Screamers (Mining Themed Science Fiction Movie – 1995) (Toronto Film Scene: Online Film Magazine – November 2014))

For our science fiction issue, it seemed obvious to address and Cronenberg or Vincenzo Natali film, so we decided to go a little off the beaten path and choose Screamers, a 1995 Canadian co-production (with the US and Japan) starring Peter Weller, Roy Dupuis and directed by Christian Duguay.

The film takes place in the the year 2078 on a planet called Sirius 6B, on which miners are at war with the corporation who employs them to mine a very potent energy source. Unfortunately, the side effect of the mining is severe radiation, creating horribly unsafe working conditions.

To combat the corporation, the miners create weapons called “screamers”, spinning blade weapons that follow heartbeats and come up from the ground to slice their enemies into pieces. The war seems close to an end, but now the miners face a new enemy: screamers who can think and replicate themselves.

Editor-in-Chief Trista DeVries and writer Will Brownridge look at Screamers to determine if it is Essential Canadian Cinema.

Trista: I realize that this is a Canadian co-production, but I actually feel an interesting kinship with this film based on the fact that it has a Canadian director, has Roy Dupuis in a major supporting role and was shot in Quebec. But I also feel a strange kinship with it because this film would not exist in its current form without the work of David Cronenberg.

I haven’t read the short story, so I can’t say how much of the film came directly from that text, but I can say with certainty that the physical way in which the Screamers were realized is something that could only have happened in a world in which Cronenberg makes movies.

Will: I never thought about David Cronenberg during the film. I did think about a pile of other sci-fi films though, ranging from Terminator, to The Thing, and even a bit of Total Recall. I think it’s safe to say that there are a lot of films and ideas that would never exist in a world without David Cronenberg though!

As I was saying, it did remind me of a lot of other films, but never really seems to be treading in the same territory. Of course, those are some great films I mentioned, and Screamers doesn’t quite live up to them. It is a fantastic film though, and that’s mainly because it manages to be fun and freaky, without trying to be something that it isn’t. The cast does help out there, but it may be Peter Weller who winds up being my favourite.

Regarding the Canadian content of the film, I’d like to think that only a Canadian, like director Christian Duguay, could bring together elements that seem so familiar, without winding up with a total rip-off of any of those movies.

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