Videodrome

Tagged: Film

Film (1982). Filmplan International/Guardian Trust/Canadian Film Development Corp. Written and directed by David Cronenberg. Cast includes Les Carlson, Peter Dvorsky, Deborah Harry, Sonja Smits and James Woods. 89 minutes. Colour.

Bravely placing his outrageous exploitation movie squarely in the centre of media-theorists' debates about interaction between viewer and screen, Cronenberg here produces perhaps the best (and also the oddest) of his series of sf scenarios of medicine, media, metamorphosis and religion, the emphasis here falling on the last 3. Woods plays the cable-tv-station executive in charge of sex'n'violence programming who stumbles across a private programme called Videodrome. This, on the surface sadistic pornography, metamorphoses him (either mentally or physically), so that a videocassette slit forms in his belly and his hand becomes (naturally) a handgun. This second part of the film, where even the television set becomes organic and protrudes lips (the Word made Flesh), may also be read as a prolonged hallucination. It is an intricate tale, also featuring a media guru, O'Blivion – modelled apparently on Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) – whose daughter pronounces after his apotheosis into software: "I am my Father's Screen." Too schlocky for the squeamish – especially the scene where talk-back hostess Nicki Brand (pop star Deborah Harry) burns her own breasts with a cigarette – and too intellectual for exploitation-movie fans, the film naturally flopped. But it may have been the most significant sf film of the 1980s, and is certainly – and very early on – the most Cyberpunk. The novelization is Videodrome (1983) by Jack Martin (Dennis Etchison [1943-    ]). [PN]

see also: Cinema; Paranoia; Sex.

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