Thursday, February 16, 2017

Short Attention Span Review: Videodrome (1983)

Short Attention Span Review: Videodrome (1983)

Videodrome is probably body horror maestro David Cronenberg's most bizarre film, and that is surely a noteworthy achievement.  In addition to featuring some of his most disgusting imagery, it is also one of his most perplexing motion pictures.  At the same time, it has an inexplicable appeal that keeps the viewer glued to the screen.  James Woods is perfectly cast as Max Renn, a sleazy cable programmer looking for a show that will shock audiences enough to put his meager station on the map.  He finds "Videodrome" and becomes obsessed with the twisted program even as this addiction triggers violent hallucinations that send his life into a downward spiral.  Debbie Harry is also pretty damn sublime as his masochistic love interest who is equally drawn to the show.  I've always felt that there's an eerie parallel between the way this gross mindbender entrances the viewer and the story itself, which depicts Max losing his ability to tell the difference between reality and fantasy as his fascination with the perverse "Videodrome" program grows.  Cronenberg's frequent collaborator Howard Shore provides a worthy score and Rick Baker's vintage effects work is still impressive to behold.  Most importantly, the central theme of the picture (modern society's dependence upon and vicarious living through media and the dangers thereof) is just as relevant today as it was back in 1983--if not more so.  The ending is decidedly grim, but stands as the perfect way to punctuate this diabolical affair that is every bit as compelling as it is grotesque.  I'm a big fan of Cronenberg's work, and while I can't put this one up there with The Fly, it's probably my second favorite film that he directed.

Final Grade: A

This is a pretty kooky image--and it's not even one of the weird parts.  True story: Videodrome is strange as hell.

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