Videodrome

Release Date:  2/4/1983 – Rated R

Starring: James Woods (Vampires)

Plot Summary: James Woods plays Max Renn the president of Civic TV a small station that makes it bones showing soft-core erotica and gory movies. Looking for the next best thing, his technician Harlan finds a pirate TV signal that comes in scrambled but appears to be a torture/snuff show called Videodrome.  Wanting to know more he tells Harlan to find more of these “transmissions.” He meet’s Nicki Brand on a talk show, and from what we can tell she runs a radio call in show for disturbed people, and finds Max’s TV station disgusting, but when she goes to his house the first thing she asks is if he has any porn. Instead they put in the newest Videodrome tape, and Nicki asks Max to cut her, during a weird sex scene (tame by the standards of the rest of the movie) Max imagines they are in the show Videodrome. Now that he’s gotten her hooked on the show she tells him that she’s off to Pittsburgh to audition for the show. Max sets out to find out more about this show, only to discover that not only is it real snuff, it’s run by a local religious leader whose philosophy is salvation through television. He only appears via video transmission but gives Max a warning, that Videodrome is not a show, but a signal sent out during the show, a signal that can not only induce visions but also brain tumors. To make things worse, they killed him to weaponize the signal and are planning to take over the world by using these signals. Max runs to his good buddy Harlan only to find out that he’s a plant, slowly gaining Max’s trust to integrate his TV channel into the plan to broadcast Videodrome. At this point it’s tough to tell when Max is hallucinating and what is real, but what we do know is that the shit is hitting the fan. Harlan and his boss tell Max that they have programmed him with the signal and now they need him to kill his business partners and any other opposition to the Videodrome plan. He promptly pulls a gun out of his stomach vagina, (yes, we said stomach vagina) and heads upstairs and shoots his two business partners and heads to the church to kill the daughter of the founder of Videodrome.  She turns the tables on Max and in turn reprograms him and sends him on his way to get the vengeance that he deserves, kinda, again at this point it’s pretty clear Max has no free will, so who knows.

Alex’s Thoughts:  While I don’t have the love or admiration that Tim shows for this movie, I didn’t hate it.  It is a good piece of film, and I’m sure it is one that students would watch if they wanted to get into the business.  It started of alright for me, but after an hour or so I was completely lost and dumbfounded and had no idea what was happening.  I’m sure that was the intent; to have you questioning what is reality and what is a hallucination.  It might be worth a watch, but not if you’re on any type of medication; it might just push you over the edge of sanity. 

Tim’s Thoughts: I will admit right now that I am a David Cronenberg fan and while I don’t like all of his stuff, I do like Videodrome. Without James Woods this movie would probably be awful, it’s bad enough that it’s barely coherent by the second half. It seems to me to be a variant on the Clockwork Orange story, which is basically if we don’t have free will, are we human? I could argue the philosophy of this all night over a couple of beers, but since we are on a blog I will keep it to just that. I have always found myself interested in these kind of movies and Kubrick and Cronenberg seem to specialize in stripping down humanity in their respective films. Now enough of me trying to sound smart, and let’s get to the good stuff. Rick Baker is a genius and pulls off some really nice effects, and while some are a bit dated the stomach vagina’s are disgusting, and the throbbing TV’s are disturbing. I rated this movie highly because it’s got balls. I mean it, it takes a lot of guts (literally) to try to pull of a movie like this, and for the most part I think it still holds up. People like Darren Aronofsky are obviously inspired by this kind of film making, and I think that it deserves a bit of credit.

Final Thoughts:  This movie will have you straight tripping balls.  It’s crazy, disturbing and will have you questioning your own reality and existence.  It’s not for the faint of heart or any rational human being, for that matter; but it will make you think.  If you don’t want a movie to just relax to, but would rather have your mind blown, this is the one for you.

Alex Rates This Movie 5/10

Tim Rates This Movie 8/10

“It’s just torture and murder. No plot, no characters. Very, very realistic. I think it’s what’s next.”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here or add it to your Netflix queue

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