Videodrome (1983) - Trailer Included
Videodrome Criterion Collection
Special makeup effects designer:Rick Baker
Starring:James Woods, Deborah Harry, Jack Creley, Leslie Carlson, Peter Dvorsky, Sonja Smits
“Can we get away with it. Do we want to get away with it” – Max Renn
How much of what we experience vicariously through voyeurism shapes and defines our psyche? Spewing from the imagination of David Cronenberg Videodrome is a science fiction horror story, startling in its vision, prophetic in its wisdom.
“The television screen is the retina of the mind's eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.” – Professor O’Blivion
Released in the early 80’s when video cassette technology was in its infancy the film foresaw the cultural cathode ray addiction to the extremities of the human experience.
The profound attraction the species has to sex, violence and mayhem.
Deviant underground pirate cable station owner Max Renn (James Woods) spends his life hunting for the most vile and grotesque programming he can find to push the boundaries. Soft core Japanese porn is mild distraction but what Max really wants is something truly nasty and hard.
“It’s soft, there’s something soft about it. I’m looking for something that’ll breakthrough, something tough” – Max Renn
Then an associate stumbles onto a snippet from an illegal broadcast he has intercepted for a show called Videodrome. With no plot or character development it takes place solely within a repulsive dungeon of torture and murder. It’s a snuff TV, but there is something far more sinister hiding in the television signal it transmits on.
“It has something you don’t have Max. It has a philosophy and that’s what makes it dangerous” – Max Renn
Keeping the amorality of his job suppressed Max begins to track down the source of the show. Problem is he has started having vivid hallucinations more challenging than anything he has witnessed in reality. Spiralling into a haze that blurs fact and fiction the closer he gets to the truth the more his visions invade his perception.
“After all, there is nothing real outside our perception of reality, is there?” – Professor O’Blivion
John Doe says:
Confronting with sadomasochistic sex, wooden dildo masturbation and snuff, that’s just the first 15 minutes. Ambitious, often phallic visual effects bring a cerebral idea to fruition with devastating vermulsitude.
Surreal, manipulating the mind and senses David Cronenberg (Rabid, A History of Violence, Existenz, Dead Ringers) drags us into his dark, twisted brain. What may have been speculation upon inception has now become a contemporary truth. In the new millennium drenched in reality TV, Faces of Death style bootlegs and criminal acts broadcast on Youtube.com, Videodrome is the next logical step.
The screenplay deftly makes even the most outlandish pretences palatable and importantly mines the delicious concepts of desensitisation with rich results. Shot and edited to unbalance and amaze. The grainy transmissions are graded in static, the slimy, juicy Rick Baker FX set pieces receive up close and personal framing while the sound design torments and evokes reaction.
James Woods (Northfork, NightMoves, The Onion Fields, Salvador, Once Upon A Time in America) was born for the role, just as Christopher Walken was ideal for the similarly themed Brainstorm. His smarmy, intelligence compliment the detached conscience of Max Renn. A man who has managed to keep his sick peddling separate from his projected self image, in effect sheltering himself from the repercussions of his behaviour, a truth that unravels onscreen.
Debbie Harry aka Blondie (Creepshow 2) is far better than expected. Her portrayal as the S&M junkie dominated by fetish makes you sit up straighter than a nipple freshly dipped in hot wax.
Assaulting John Doe as teen when he first viewed it, opening his mind to new ideas and media awareness Videodrome is an all time classic. Improving with age also becoming clearer this is not for the squeamish. For those who desire cinema that inspires thought and delivers unique, original vision, the likes not seen before then look no further. This one will haunt you forever.
The DVD: US Criterion Collection.
Transfer:1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen/Dolby Digital 2.0
Extras:New digital transfer on unrated version with restored image and sound.
Camera, a short film starring Videodrome's Les Carlson, written and directed by David Cronenberg in 2000 as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Toronto Film Festival. Farming the New Flesh, a new half-hour documentary featurette about the creation of Videodrome's landmark video and prosthetic makeup effects.
Samurai Dreams, the complete and unedited faux Japanese AV feature seen in the film. Fear on Film, a 26-minute roundtable discussion from 1981 between filmmakers David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, John Landis, and Mick Garris.
Check out the trailer below.