The crew includes special effects by wizard Rick Baker, and music by Howard Shore. The cast includes James Woods, Sonja Smits and a scintillating performance by Deborah Harry. Add in Cronenberg’s love of flesh horror and you have the makings of this cult favorite on the 101 Sci-Fi Movies list.
Max Renn (Woods) is a bit of a sleaze, a flesh-peddler for his small cable channel. He’s always looking for something to push his audience to the limits, something unusual, something with an edge.
He finds that, and more when he’s given a tape of a pirate program referring to itself only as Videodrome. It features extreme s&m and murder.
And after exposure, it causes hallucinations, tumors, madness and mutation.
It’s hard for both the viewer and for Renn to know what is real, what is only in his mind, or is it a reflection of the world as it really is?
In a lot of ways this film is still relevant, especially in terms of how television is constantly pushing the envelope in what they can show and do.
Deborah Harry plays Max’s lover Nicki Brand, who also tends to have a bit of a naughty streak in her, and is seduced by the imagery of Videodrome so much that she goes off in search of it, wanting to appear on the show.
As Renn becomes more and more distressed and on edge by what he’s seeing he seeks answers from Bianca O’Blivion (Smits). She’s gives him more tapes, revealing the truth of Videodrome, that it’s all real, it’s a movement, it’s growing, and the tumor inside Renn is going to kill him.
In typical Cronenberg fashion the body horror kicks in with the hallucination and Renn is right smack dab in the center of it, a tear opens up in his stomach, where both sides of the movement, can program him with flesh-like tapes.
All of this pushes Renn too far, he becomes increasingly erratic, an assassin for both sides of the battle. With a rally cry of Long Live The New Flesh, Renn races to an almost inescapable climax.
It’s a dark film, a sexy film, and is still one of my favorite Cronenberg flicks.
It’s also interesting from a Toronto perspective seeing how much the city has changed in 30 years. There are almost no recognizable landmarks, and yet still feels like the Toronto I know and love.
Woods is brilliant, paranoid, wired and totally inhabiting his role, and Deborah Harry is just female sexuality in one fantastic package.
The idea of video cassettes may be long gone, but the concepts presented in the film are fairly relevant for our time, it seems that what we watch on the television or on the internet seems to be a logical progression of the Videodrome story…
I would love to see a revisit to this concept, a remake, or even a sequel of some sort of another, it’s an interesting world to play in and explore.
Have you seen it? What did you think of it?
One Comment Add yours
Great post, I still need to see this one.