That was pretty weird.
I’m something of an off-and-on David Cronenberg fan; I don’t own any of his movies, but good or bad, his films stick with you. “Dead Ringers” is one that haunted me for months after seeing it. I don’t think “Videodrome” is going to haunt me that much, but I’m sad to say it’s one of his lesser films.
Here we have Max (James Woods), head of a seedy television channel that specializes in porn, from soft- to hard-core smut. Always on the lookout for something new and shocking, his assistant Harlan (Peter Dvorsky) shows him a feed for a show called Videodrome. In it, men and women are tortured and murdered, all so we can watch.
Of course, this feed comes with a little something extra; not long after Max sees the film, and shares it with his S&M-loving girlfriend Nicki (Deborah Harry, of Blondie fame), he begins hallucinating that his TV, and all video cassettes (Jim, they were Betamax!), are alive and communicating with him, rather than just at him.
In his quest for knowledge and a “cure,” he stumbles upon the unlikely origins of Videodrome and its acolytes and opposition. I won’t give away more than that, but it’s a strange ride.
It’s also a bit on a long side, especially considering the runtime is only 88 minutes. I can live with the weird, and a rather unsatisfying end, but the film lost me about an hour in. To vague this up as much as possible, a female character commits to being the stupidest possible creature on Earth by simply losing the ability to add.
Yes, one could speculate that, hey, Max is a nutjob and that might not have happened, but we saw it anyway. In our eyes, it did happen, for no reason. It completely took me and my movie buddy out of the film and pretty much soured anything that came after.
That’s one big strike that can’t be washed away. I’ve heard rumours that a remake is in the works; if that character’s actions are omitted, I would be willing to approach it with an open mind. Fix that error, and I’m all yours.
Want another take on “Videodrome?” See what Jim has to say.
Written and directed by David Cronenberg
Starring: James Woods (Max)
Deborah Harry (Nicki)
Peter Dvorsky (Harlan)