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Videodrome - Film Review

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by Alexander Dermer (subscribe)
Alex is a freelance writer, retail worker, short film maker, an avid lover of The Arts and always willing to explore.
Published December 3rd 2012
You'll Never Look At A Betamax The Same Way Again
"Long live the new flesh."

The tale of Videodrome follows the life of Max Ren, a rather repugnant cable TV programmer, who deals largely with smut and other exploitation alike. The only problem for Max is that he's fresh out of new material and is in desperate need for something different. One day Max accidently comes across a TV channel, when one of his employees decodes a pirate video broadcast; this broadcast is an obscure and disturbing vision that neither of them have ever seen before.

This program is known only as Videodrome, a stream of nothing more than death, mutilation and torture, or so Max thinks. Max soon decides that he must have this questionable material for his cable program, and asks his supplier Marsha to contact the responsible party. Soon after seeing the footage, Max's sadomasochistic girlfriend Niki Brand, decides to travel to Pittsburg and audition to be part of Videodrome. It then dawns on Max that some of the acting in these videos may be more real than he thought and that Videodrome is affecting him strangely, whilst twisting reality through vast video hallucinations.

Within tough competition of his 1986 remade masterpiece, The Fly; David's Cronenberg's Videodrome is quite easily the most intelligent feature from his grotesque 80's period. I would even go as far to say that Videodrome is quite easily one of David Cronenberg's best films to date. Aside from it's astounding special effects (especially for that of it's time), it's no holds barred imagination, and of course it's all round superb acting; one of Videodrome's most impressive aspects is it's incredibly twisted satire of graphic content in the media, and how it can effect each one of us differently.

To add more fuel to the fire, Videodrome originally had to be censored for a more friendly R rating during it's initial release in the USA. Director and writer David Cronenberg, has also been quoted on a separate occasion saying "Censors tend to do what only psychotics do: they confuse reality with illusion." The irony of all this is way too potent to ignore, and undoubtedly boosted it's later well deserved cult following.

I've heard many people argue that Videodrome is an obsolete piece of cinema, and not only that, but a highly irrelevant eyesore to any likes of modern society. Which is why of course, Hollywood some how deems it appropriate to give Videodrome the dreaded treatment of the modern remake. But who said being dated was necessarily a bad thing? Not only is Videodrome a deliciously horrific gem, but it is also one of the best defining moments of 80's cinema. Despite Videodrome's frequent images of analog TV's and Betamax tapes; this magnificently monstrous tale was in many ways much ahead of its time. The use of mind control and graphic visuals in the media is sadly more common in modern society than it was twenty or thirty years ago, and if anything this film has aged like a fine wine.

For those of you who may be withdrawn from this sort of ghastly bizarre content, such as a vagina shaped mass on the abdominal region that accepts Betamax tapes; then this film may not be for you. Otherwise David Cronenberg's Videodrome is a superbly aberrant yet highly enthralling feature of excellence, that shall deem no hesitation from anyone who calls him or herself a true horror fan.


OFLC (Office of Film and Literature Classification) rating:

You can purchase the DVD at Amazon.
You can also purchase The Criterion Collection DVD at Amazon.
You can also purchase the BLURAY at Amazon.
You can also purchase The Criterion Collection BLURAY at Amazon.

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Why? Because it's a masterpiece
When: Out now, released 1983
Where: Online or in stores
Cost: $10 - $30
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