Directed & Written by: David Cronenberg
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Horror, Drama
Runtime: 89 Minutes
This is certainly one of David Cronenberg’s minor films, but one of the most personal and Cronenbergian. “Videodrome” is disorientating, strange and just plain weird. The real story is of a man diving into insanity, which is presented here, by Cronenberg’s direction and style of cool special effects. The film stars James Wood as our main character who soon becomes warped into the world of this ‘Videodrome’ with hallucinations and obsession. Cronenberg’s crucial roles of the film are hard-core pornography, sadomasochism, mind control, and living televisions, which might leave you wondering what you just watched.
Max Renn (James Woods), a television executive searching for an intense new program for his sex-oriented network. He ultimately discovers an underground program called "Videodrome," which appears to broadcast pornographic snuff films of actual murders. Horrified but perversely intrigued, Renn sets out to find the truth behind the program. During his search, he meets alluring femme fatale Nicki (Blondie lead singer Debbie Harry), technology cult leader Bianca O'Blivion, and other mysterious figures. Things become even more disturbing for Renn as his addiction grows, and the program begins to infect the outside world -- or perhaps merely destroy own his sanity.
Of course, the film is entertaining. The real inspiration for this piece of Cronenberg film was how he used to watch TV late at night when he was a kid and pick up unauthorized broadcasts from New York. This idea fascinated him of these illicit broadcasts, and at the same time anxious that he might catch a glimpse of something disturbing.
What is ultimately strange about the film is how it swaps between reality and Max’s hallucinations making it almost incomprehensible, but hardly incoherent. It all seems clear steering towards the end and I think if you were to watch it a second time things would make so much more sense. The effects Cronenberg had in this film are what made it disorientating and strange. In one scene/hallucination, Max has a gun in his hand and suddenly there is a hole in his stomach. He pokes around inside his stomach with the gun and pulls out his hand, with no gun. A strange scene that is curious and amusingly weird.
This hole in his stomach soon becomes something to the story, where we have people inserting video cassettes inside him, which I would believe represents who the viewer consumes these visually. The message Cronenberg has created through this film is what makes it fully enjoyable. It is saying television can warp the mind and affect you in certain ways. Of course, this is a big leap of that and it is terrific surreal enjoyment throughout the film. Many people complain about Television claiming it makes you dumber and all that jazz and I enjoyed what this film stood for. This particular television programme turns you insane and it is nothing more than that.
Another interesting effect was the television set when Nicki was on screen, and the set seem to have become her as it moves and groans erotically. This was another wacky and interesting effect from Cronenberg’s special effects team. It is early in to the 80’sand I think this is one of the first films to achieve those interesting effects that the 80’s brought to the screen in films that I admire very much.
As acting goes, James Woods seems like an odd choice because his total tone seems more like comedy as a person, but his role here was superb. He did an excellent portrayal of going insane. Alongside Woods is Debbie Harry who was an excellent supporting character. There are not many cast members and many of them play a good part of the story.
Although the film did not do well commercially on its release, many are still enjoying this visually audacious film. I do not recommend this to younger people as the experience is very strange and some of the effects are quite disgusting, something Cronenberg would achieve years to come in his version of “The Fly”. This film is still very enjoyable, and it would be worth a second viewing to see things more clearly and the film is a disorientating and strange experience that remains enjoyable even today. “Long live the new flesh!”
My Rating: 7.5/10