by on Oct.26, 2010, under Daily Review

‘The television has become the retina of the minds eye.’ It’s this line which echo’s through the film, readdressing the focal point of extreme violence and the effect on the viewer, and in this case, planned manipulation of the mind through video wave signals. An amazing idea, which engages the ‘real’ viewer who is at home watching this, although no longer on  video cassette, the retro esthetic is perfect.

Cronenberg’s masterpiece which brings together the ideals of his previous films, the embrace and acceptance of change within the mind and body, here hits a new level and one which engages it’s audience. The reason we’re watching the film in the first place will be not only for the stunning script, great acting and perfect direction, but the disturbing plot awash with gore and violence of the extreme. Cronenberg makes clever films with full rational and reason for his visuals. Here we have an amazing idea which encourages the change in mind from watching sex, murder, violence to lead to extreme actions on the behalf of those who have viewed leaving them in a state of loss and unease.

TV producer, Max (James Woods) is always on the lookout for the next TV show to capture the audience. He’s pointed into a live satellite stream, a pirate signal broadcasting a sadistic TV show, Videodrome which depicts its contestants in scenes of violence. He’s captivated and immediately sets the wheels in motion to find the source. But the TV shows becomes more than an obsession with hallucinations and out of character actions as Max takes a journey within his own mind. He soon learns there is more to the broadcast than he first thought.

Woods is outstanding here, paired alongside Deborah Harry is some of cinema’s most legendary genre scenes. One of Harry’s great lines wraps up the film for me. ‘What are you waiting for lover, let’s perform, let’s open our neural floodgates.’ Also, we Harry’s lips pulsating out of the TV screen is one of the finest moments, whilst the cigarette and needle moments are also gripping and ugly but always mesmerizing. The gore is outrageously good. Rick Baker, always outstanding. Max slipping his hand inside his belly is an incredible special effect. We have a crazy bubbling exploding body later on in the film and how could I not mention the morphing flesh and gun scene.

The film plays like a vivid dream, or should I say nightmare which is cleverly constructed through Cronenberg’s reality, one of normal apartments, disused crumbling buildings in decay, unlike his usual clinical look. The hallucinations act alongside this decay to give the film a dirty gritty feel, one of closeness and personal attachment. Max’s romance with his Videodrome is his connection as the viewer who experiences the effects, just as I am at home here watching and experiencing in my own personal environment, but the connection and closeness is uncanny.

I love this film. It’s perfect in pace and crazy enough to enjoy on so many levels. Read more and more into this and take it deeper than  you imagine and I’m sure you’ll find your own Videodrome. One of the film characters, O’Blivion (Jack Creley) makes a few statements early on in the film too, a vision of our own future and one which is here and now. The acceptance of violence within our society through a network shown on screens in our home. The idea that everyone will have a Screen name, which differs from their own. Credence to Cronenberg; pure genius.

Death to Videodrome, Long live the new flesh!

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