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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 40%
Average: 13.33%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 3.33%

1 review, 24 user ratings

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by MP Bartley

"Media Violence."
4 stars

They really will put any trash on the tv these days...

A recurring theme in the work of David Cronenberg has been the notion that the more a person's psychology changes, the more physical that change also becomes. For Cronenberg, a human body is not a full stop, but a developing, ever changing and malleable concept. Videodrome, with its refrain of "Long live the new flesh", is perhaps the purest distillation of Cronenberg ideals.

Max Renn (a typically wired and intense James Woods) is a seedy and sleazy cable programmer, who provides a cheap and nasty cable service for those who wish to sate their appetite of pornographic and violent images. He's intrigued one day when his technician presents him with a pirated programme that he stole from a television signal located somewhere in Pittsburgh. The programme is 'Videodrome' a seemingly plotless, but graphic, torture chamber that revolves around sadomasochistic urges and actions.
'Videodrome' soon becomes an obsession for Max, not just because he wants to steal the whole show and continually broadcast it on his station - entitled with heavy irony, 'Civic Television' - but because it starts to invade first his sleep, and then his waking days with disturbing hallucinations - particularly when the star of the show apparently becomes Nicky (Deborah Harry), a radio DJ he has started an affair with, and his body goes into meltdown alongside his mind.

If television is the drug of the nation, then Videodrome gives us a society of addicts. Max doesn't get woken by an alarm clock, he has a videotaped message to rouse him and vagrants and lowlifes are taken off the streets and taken into sheltered accomodation, not to be given soup or methadone, but a private cubicle with a television. It's also noteable that 'Videodrome' is not seen as television programme as such, but as a videotape that is passed around and literally pushed into people's bodies like a needle. And if society is full of druggies, then Max is a heroin addict. 'Videodrome' gives him uncontrolled rages, makes him paranoid, and ravages his body with a gaping wound in his stomach that absorbs videotapes. Reality here is as changeable as the human body, and the result is a film that is paranoid from beginning to end. We rarely see the outside world, being stuck inside cramped and constricted, with only a tense and sweaty Max for company alongside some of Rick Baker's most disgustingly effective work, such as a living and breathing television. Interestingly, the time of Videodrome is never explicitly stated - sure, it could be in the 1980s when it was made, but it looks so slightly futuristic that it could also be now or twenty years hence. The point couldn't be clearer.

Yes, Cronenberg investigates his favourite theme of body horror, from Harry's DJ who gets her sexual kicks from self-cutting and self-burning to Max who starts to merge somewhere inbetween human and machine, but there's much more going on here. Early on, Max sneers that 'Videodrome' is "better on the television than on the streets" and he's right. Yet, he's questioned later just why does he watch 'Videodrome' so intently. Indeed, just what kind of individual would want to watch it of their own free will? But again it's not as simple as that - when Max is cornered by opponents of 'Videodrome' they state that there are some tough times ahead for mankind and everyone needs to be focused. It's about the removal of choice therefore, but if we remove the choice to choose 'Videodrome', where do we stop? What other choices are taken away because it's not good for us? Where does censorship for own good stop, and censorship for the good of the state begin? Videodrome may have the look of a vivid, hallucinatory nightmare, but it has far more going on than it's guts and gore reputation warrants.

Watching too much television will give you more then two square eyes - it will make you grow a vagina in your stomach and make your hand melt. And no-one wants that do they?

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originally posted: 03/13/07 21:19:58
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User Comments

4/09/17 Louise (the real one) Liked the 80s look - entertaining enough but rather incoherent. 3 stars
2/21/17 Dave A flawed gem; will leave you feeling very weird indeed 4 stars
9/07/10 Philly Cult Cronenberg's best, a horror high-mark. Brilliant. 5 stars
6/06/10 User Name It's violent, it's disgusting, and it's so spot-on. 4 stars
12/13/07 David Cohen has become more relevent over time, as only good sci-fi can do 5 stars
10/26/07 T Malakin Long live the technological singularity! 5 stars
3/27/07 Irene Diaz Just bought the DVD, really liked it, very creepy 4 stars
3/21/07 carniv4 Saw this when it first came out in an empty theater - great movie! 5 stars
1/24/07 Kai Sheer, sweet genius. Cronenberg's true coming of age film. 5 stars
1/10/07 chris changed how i look at television.. really cool flick 4 stars
2/09/06 Darren O Cronenberg's most powerful film, layered with twists only understood by repeated viewings. 5 stars
12/10/05 John Dog Brilliant film. 5 stars
9/09/05 K. Sear I have to admit, I don't really get Cronenberg. 3 stars
6/26/05 Dr. Zoidberg Bizarre in an intelligent way 4 stars
2/06/05 Gray WTF? Sat wars clensed my pallet after this nightmare 3 stars
1/30/05 Bob Barton One of the top horror/science fiction movies ever made!!! 5 stars
10/16/04 Charles Volcher LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH!!!!!! DEBBIE HARRY WAS AWSOME 5 stars
7/10/04 Daveman Among Cronenberg's best. Far better than The Fly. 4 stars
6/08/04 Ryan Clark One of Cronenberg's best, and an overall better film than the similarly themed Crash. 5 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby A mesmerizing, one-of-a-kind cautionary fable. Cronenberg's finest. 5 stars
9/12/02 y2mckay Typical Cronenburg gore and crap fest. James Woods is cool tho. 3 stars
9/03/01 The-Dude Amazingly strange and interesting tale that plays out much like a nightmare. 5 stars
10/17/00 master.node "What you see *is real*." A few movies say this disturbing truth. None as well. 5 stars
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  28-Jan-1983 (R)
  DVD: 31-Aug-2004



Directed by
  David Cronenberg

Written by
  David Cronenberg

  James Woods
  Debbie Harry
  Sonja Smits
  Peter Dvorsky
  Les Carlson

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