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.