“Videodrome” (1983)


Studio: Universal Pictures
Starring: James Woods, Deborah Harry, Sonja Smits, Peter Dvorsky
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Rated: R
Running Time: 87 min.

Synopsis: An owner of an independent TV station tries to get a torture show to play on his network. But the show turns out more than what he ever imagined.


Chris Woods

A classic Cronenberg film that is very bizarre just like his other works. Videodrome is a great horror film that also fits in with the time that it was made and also fits our present time. A very good story and a great cast, makes Videodrome one of Cronenberg’s best and a cool horror film all around.

The film stars James Woods who plays Max Renn, owner of Civic TV, which is an independent, station that broadcasts soft-core porn and hardcore violence. We never really know if the film takes place in the future. It seems like it takes place in present day because there’s really nothing futuristic about, it seems at times just an alternate reality. Also there are tons of videotapes lying around that are Beta. Max is looking for a new program to play on his station that’s a little bit edgier than his current shows. One of his engineers’ stumbles across a satellite single of a broadcast where people are tortured, raped, and murdered. Max wants the show for his station and will do anything to get it. Right now they can only get bits and pieces of show and he wants to find out where it’s being broadcast.

Also starring in the film is Deborah Harry of Blondie who plays Niki Brand, a radio talk show host who starts seeing Max. She also has a fetish for pain, when she asks Max to cut her. She then shows him all the cut marks on her neck and shoulder. Max then shows her Videodrome and she’s very interested. Afterward, Max has some people digging into the show. First they find out it’s coming out of Pittsburgh then Max finds out the show is for real and not a fake. Still, Max wants the show, even though his friends warn him not to go near it. He finally gets a name of a person who might be connected to the show, a Dr. Brian O’Blivion, who never appears in person only on video tape. He visits his daughter who runs a homeless shelter where the people watch television all day. The daughter warns him as well, but it’s too late for Max. The more he watches Videodrome he starts to hallucinate. Now he can’t tell what’s real or what’s just a hallucination from Videodrome.

The hallucination scenes are pretty cool. There’s one where Max’s stomach opens up and he stuffs a gun into it. Another is when his TV comes to life and starts breathing. The top of it goes up and down and we also get a bit of 80’s nostalgia, because the items on top of the TV are some Beta tapes and an Atari joystick and a few games. The film also has a real grittiness to it as far as the setting goes. Everyone in the film looks like they’re homeless, even Max. Nothing fancy in this movie, only the video equipment, but that also seems rough and used.

Other parts that stand out are the use of people talking on TV to others. Instead of an answer machine, people record message on video. From Max’s secretary to Dr. O’Blivion, there are a few scenes like that in the movie and they kind of stand out and it adds to whole video theme. The performances are also pretty good from the whole cast. The stand out is James Woods, but Deborah Harry does pretty well in her role. There are also some pretty sweet make-up effects from Rick Baker through out the film.

I remember, I first saw this film back in the late 80’s and watch it from time to time. It never gets old and is always bizarre and entertaining and a cool story. It’s a must see if you haven’t all ready.