Jul 06

Forgotten Films: Videodrome (1983)

Videodrome (1983)


David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg

James Woods, Sonja Smits, Deborah Harry, Peter Dvorsky, Leslie Carlson, Jack Creley

Max Renn (James Woods) is a sleazy cable TV producer who discovers a snuff broadcast called “Videodrome” while researching new show ideas. Videodrome turns out to be real footage and when Max’s girlfriend goes missing while looking for the shows source, he must fight his way through his own mind to find the truth behind the bizzare video transmissions.

When watching any movie made by David Cronenberg, you have to expect bizzare. The film has a decent story and the general feel of the film (although ridiculously dated) still manages to get its message through… IF you can imagine a world where videotapes are sent like emails and broadcast TV is like the internet.

Besides the odd future that Cronenberg had imagined, the film delivers it’s views on human nature, sex, politics and technology without falling into arthouse pretention, although for most viewers it will require more than one viewing to fully appreciate it’s depth, as the plot can get lost as your focus shifts to the film’s crazier moments. Also, some will find the ending hard to decipher due to it’s sudden change in pace over the last 20 minutes.

Brilliant. The gore mostly comes quite suddenly and unexpectedly, adding to it’s shock value and is done in the way only Cronenberg does gore. No CGI or cutaways, just well made models and buckets of fake blood and body parts. Expect many cringe-worthy hard to watch moments.

James Woods is really at his best here. His descent into the world of Videodrome is never lost, even with some dated effects, due to his complete devotion to the role. The man does creepy fast talking excecutive like no one else ever could and his sliminess can almost be felt through the screen. A special mention goes out to Deborah Harry who plays Max’s kinky girlfriend, she is smouldering with sexuality every moment she is on camera and really helps sell some of the films more  surreal moments.

Best Bits:
Most of the films best moments are best left a surprise, but I will say keep an eye out for stomach vaginas, a literal “hand gun” and a new meaning to “loving your TV.”

This film is a hard sell to those without an open mind. I do not recommend it to those with a weak stomach or those with a dislike for the perverse and though it may not be the controversial film it was in 1983, it will still weird out even the more desensitised members of the current generation. The film truly defines surrealism and will keep even the most avid of film watchers guessing to it’s very intense finish.

Final words:
A must own for any fans of surrealist film or Cronenberg in general.

Buy Videodrome – Criterion Collection at Amazon