Review: Videodrome

July 2, 2006 at 1:32 PM (Movies)

I watched David Cronenberg’s 1983 cult movie Videodrome a few days back.  What an unusual movie!!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything else like it (except of course, for Cronenberg’s eXistenZ).

James Woods plays Max Renn, the president of a cable network that specialises in pornographic shows.  When video pirate Harlan stumbles upon satellite transmissions of a peculiar channel called Videodrome, Renn is interested in tracking down the people behind it and possibly work out a deal to show Videodrome’s programming on his network.  Videodrome is what seems to be a live snuff channel, with nothing but murder, torture and mutilation shown throughout.

Renn finds that Videodrome is broadcast from Pittsburgh, and a person called Prof. Brian O’Blivion (who communicates to the outside world only through prerecorded video) may know something about it.  Unfortunately, it seems Videodrome is causing Renn to have hallucinations, and Renn must find out the truth before he loses his mind.

The first David Cronenberg film I watched was his 1986 The Fly (I saw this some 10-12 years back).  Recently, I watched eXistenZ, and while it was a flawed film that ended on an ambiguous note, I really appreciated the amazing creativity behind it.  Analyses of much of Cronenberg’s work have pointed out how he portrays "flesh" undergoing mutation/change though technology or psychological effect, in his films (they include quite a bit of sexual imagery as well).  All these descriptions apply to Videodrome as well — you see how video signals/violence on TV impact Max Renn’s mind, causing physical manifestations in his body (though this could be hallucination).  I felt this was a better movie than eXistenZ (a bit more ambiguous though!).

It’s a very imaginative and well made movie.  The acting by all involved is very good, and the visual effects are amazing (though at times the images are pretty disgusting to watch — the opening in Max’s stomach for example).  The movie is somewhat ambiguous in its resolution and the concept of video altering reality is not that easy to grasp, but it is definitely an awesome effort that deserves praise.

Rating: 8/10

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1 Comment

  1. Mansi said,

    Nice…. i like the glow in the gum and love the way you’ve rendered the hand as well…. The best part is that, the way the hand is positioned, hints at the frustration one often feels when caught in a similar situation…. though of course, the gum is of a more home grown variety : )

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