Videodrome

Movie Information

Videodrome, part of a series of Classic Cinema From Around the World, will be presented at 8 p.m. Friday, May 8, at Courtyard Gallery, 9 Walnut St. in downtown Asheville. Info: 273-3332.
Score:

Genre: Horror Sci-Fi Satire
Director: David Cronenberg
Starring: James Woods, Sonja Smits, Deborah Harry, Peter Dvorsky, Les Carlson, Jack Creley
Rated: NR

Forever etched in cinematic memory as the movie where James Woods grows a vagina in his stomach into which a gun can disappear and a videotape be inserted, Videodrome (1983) is actually a horror film of unusual substance and vision—the first film from David Cronenberg that announced his true importance as a filmmaker. Not that his earlier films had been negligible (after all, Scanners (1981) gave the world the exploding head), but this was something more—and his last work that straddled the line between exploitation and mainstream (even if his mainstream works aren’t all that mainstream). Videodrome was more outrageous, more bizarre and infinitely more disturbing.

The film is a strangely prophetic satire on our then-burgeoning addiction to technology. It takes place in a world where television has truly become a plug-in drug—there’s even the Cathode Ray Mission where the homeless can get a dose of TV to help patch them back into the world. Our hero (of sorts) is the sleazy manager of a cable TV station, who is out for the next big thrill in television. But he gets more than he bargained for when he “chances upon” Videodrome: a torture porn show that captures his interest. Unfortunately, it does more than that—as reality and fantasy, flesh and technology blur together, leading to one of the most chilling climaxes in all of film.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

14 thoughts on “Videodrome

  1. Steven

    [b]There was an announcement last week that they are remaking this, which is a shame.[/b]

    This is news for me. Do you happen to have a link?

  2. Ken Hanke

    There was an announcement last week that they are remaking this, which is a shame.

    Justin sent me a link, but I don’t appear to have it anymore. Predictably, the remake idea is all about “better” special effects and “more action.”

  3. ncain

    A remake of Videodrome? I’ll bet it ends up being PG-13 for the kiddies. All I can say is I hope Cronenberg gets paid well for the use of his idea and takes the money and finances something someone might want to watch.

    This is definitely Cronenberg’s most interesting film. It was eerily prescient. The idea of a torture television show might have seemed far fetched at the time, but reality television (not to mention the Internet) has turned us into a nation of voyeurs and sadists.

  4. Ken Hanke

    The idea of a torture television show might have seemed far fetched at the time, but reality television (not to mention the Internet) has turned us into a nation of voyeurs and sadists.

    You left out the advent of the horror sub-genre, torture porn.

    The notion of the PG-13-ification of Videodrome crossed my mind — and just imagine the casting from teencentric TV.

  5. Ya know, if they can remake LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, then nothing is untouchable. Next will be a PG CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.

  6. ncain

    The notion of the PG-13-ification of Videodrome crossed my mind—and just imagine the casting from teencentric TV.

    This is exactly what will happen, and instead of television it will be a torture Web site or some such, and then they will throw in nanotechnology, and you will have to wonder why they didn’t bother just writing an original story with those elements and called it something other than VIDEOdrome, which will likely be a misnomer.

    Also, they will do away with all the ambiguity, and the Debbie Harry character won’t be a hallucination, or whatever, she will be real, and she won’t go seek out Videodrome willingly because of her masochistic tendencies. Instead, she will be kidnapped, and Max Renn will have to rescue her. His hand will still turn into a flesh gun, but instead of shooting himself, he will mercilessly gun down the bad guys and rescue his girlfriend. In the final scene, they will kiss, and music by some insufferable pop rock band will start playing. Roll credits.

  7. Ken Hanke

    Ya know, if they can remake LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, then nothing is untouchable.

    I know I wouldn’t want to touch Last House on the Left — either version.

  8. Ken Hanke

    In the final scene, they will kiss, and music by some insufferable pop rock band will start playing. Roll credits.

    You have a future in Hollywood.

  9. Steven

    [b]Next will be a PG CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST.[/b]
    I would pay to see that.

  10. luluthebeast

    Nah, let Rob Zombie remake CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. Some of his cinematic family members aren’t far from it anyway. Just don’t kill the animals this time.

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