Videodrome

1983, Movie, R, 88 mins

Review

VIDEODROME
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Director David Cronenberg's most visionary and audacious film up to the time of its making, VIDEODROME is a fascinating rumination on humanity, technology, entertainment, sex, and politics that is virtually incomprehensible on first viewing and needs to be seen several times before one can even begin to unlock its mysteries. James Woods, in one of the best performances of his career, stars as Max Renn, an ambitious cable television programmer who, in his off hours, is a closet voyeur of sex and violence. Looking for something new, something "sensational" for his cable station, Renn stumbles across a show called "Videodrome" while pirating signals from satellite dishes. The show seems to depict the actual torture and murder of a different victim every night. Fascinated and excited by the program, Renn tries to find out where the show originates. During the investigation, he becomes deeply embroiled in a bizarre, intriguing, and sometimes incomprehensible fusion of television, politics, and mind-control that seems to herald some sort of "New Order" for society.

VIDEODROME very well may be the most incomprehensible mainstream film ever made. As Cronenberg's narrative veers from hallucination to reality and back again--the line between them more blurred each time--he unleashes his bizarre visual imagination, bombarding viewers with such sights as an open stomach cavity that becomes a repository for videocassettes and guns, throbbing television sets, a literal hand-gun, and humans who crack open and spew forth all manner of flesh, blood, and multicolored goo. While these images are undeniably powerful (the throbbing, living television set is amazing) and the film is compulsively watchable, it does tend to become wholly impenetrable toward the end and may leave the uninitiated frustrated or even angry. Nevertheless, this is a remarkable film that will continue to be debated and analyzed for decades to come. leave a comment

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