Released on this day in 1981: Scanners
Written and directed by David Cronenberg, Scanners follows two companies who have trained people with psychic and telekinetic powers to be used as weapons. Unsurprisingly, things get out of control when the two companies learn of the other’s existence and send “scanners” after one another.
Scanners is infamous for its gory head explosions, which is how the Scanners attack other people. Makeup legend Dick Smith was one of the artists behind this effect. It was a plastic skull with gelatin exterior packed with “latex scraps, some wax, and just bits and bobs and a lot of stringy stuff that we figured would fly through the air a little better.” When the effect didn’t work quite as well as people had hoped, special effects supervisor Gary Zeller fired a shotgun at the dummy’s head.