Videodrome (1983)

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Cover of "Videodrome"
Cover of Videodrome

First it controls your mind…then it destroys your body

Here’s a gruesome sci-fi horror from David Cronenberg.  I’ve been nervous about watching it for a long time.

Max Renn (James Woods) is a fast-talking cable tv programmer with a taste for sleaze and a kinky girlfriend, Nicki Brand (Deborah Harry).  He gets the opportunity to watch a mysteriously broadcasted show named “Videodrome,” which is nothing but sexualized torture. He thinks he’s found gold. As he learns more about the people behind the show, he finds the whole thing is more than he can stomach.*

Renn begins the movie as a sadist-in-denial but his girlfriend has completely embraced her masochism.  Half way through the movie, these two turn out to be as straight-edge as the characters get.

According to the reviews I’ve been reading, Renn represents society’s corruption and its perverse desires being controlled by technology that is supposed to sate those desires.

Cronenberg gives a nod to Marshall McCluhan’s theories of media in the characters’ pontifications.  Renn meets a digital fanatic named Brian O’Blivion (Jack Creley) who only appears on a screen not in person.  O’Blivion has opened a Cathode Ray mission house for the homeless, and he thinks virtual life is superior to real life.

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