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David Cronenberg's Scanners Was More Grueling To Film Than You Ever Imagined

"Scanners" is one of those low-budget 1980s science fiction movies that can get under your skin. Written and directed by body horror expert David Cronenberg, the movie is best known for a shocking head explosion that occurs early on in the film. Though the scene in question is played 100-percent straight, the gruesome moment earned a second life as a popular internet GIF for mind-blowing situations, a factor that has given the movie something of a second life (via Know Your Meme).

The 1981 horror thriller came about very early in Cronenberg's career, long before he would achieve mainstream success with films like "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises." Still, "Scanners" remains a memorable movie in the auteur's filmography for its brutal violence and surprisingly convincing practical effects.

However, it wasn't just nailing the effects for the brutal psychic showdowns that made the film tough for Cronenberg. There were many extenuating factors that the writer-director had to contend with while bringing "Scanners" to life.

David Cronenberg worked long days to put Scanners together

Though "Scanners" did relatively well at the box office, making more than triple its $4 million budget back (via Box Office Mojo), David Cronenberg found the process of making the film extremely stressful. "It was physically exhausting," Cronenberg told Fangoria magazine. "Very hard, very long hours," (via Den of Geek).

The filmmaker wasn't shy about breaking down what made "Scanners" so hard on him. "It was also very demanding because we had so little pre-production time, it was my biggest budget, my longest shoot — it turned out to be about nine weeks — but I only had about two weeks for all the pre-production, which is ridiculous," Cronenberg went on. "And I had only written one first-draft script, which took me three weeks to write. That meant a lot of things weren't together."

When put that way, it sounds like "Scanners" was a particularly stressful film for the auteur to shoot on such a short timeline, especially since he was flying by the seat of his pants for much of it. Still, the final product is memorable. "Scanners" is worth seeing as a curiosity even if it hasn't aged particularly well in the four decades since its release.