Videodrome

From Academic Kids

Videodrome is a 1983 film written and directed by David Cronenberg, and starring James Woods and Deborah Harry.

The film's story begins with Max Renn (Woods) as president of a sleazy local cable TV channel looking for new material to titillate his viewers. His technical staff picks up transmissions of a bizarre, violent program with no plot, only half hour episodes of torture and murder. As the director attempts to locate the source of the transmissions, he finds that they are beginning to affect him mentally, and then, in keeping with the themes of Cronenberg's earlier films, cause him to undergo physiological transformations as well.

Because the film takes place entirely from Renn's point of view, it becomes difficult to tell what is real and what is hallucination. A vagina-like opening appears in his stomach, allowing the villains to mentally program him by inserting video cassettes into it. As the film goes on, these begin to look more like tumours. Under the influence of his programming he takes a gun, which merges with his hand to form a literal "handgun", and shoots his former business partners. He is then literally reprogrammed by Bianca O'Blivion, so that when one of the villains attempts to insert another tumour-like cassette into him he is able to fuse a grenade to the man's arm (i.e., a "hand grenade") which explodes and kills him.

Woods's character finally takes refuge on a derelict boat in an abandoned harbor, where he sees a TV set showing an image of himself pointing his handgun at his head and saying "long live the new flesh". His on-screen image shoots himself and the TV explodes, spilling human intestines all over the deck. He then repeats the action he has just watched, pulls the trigger, and the screen goes blank.

From the above description it will be obvious that Cronenberg has lost none of his taste for depictions of bodily distortions and viscera. The film can be seen as a highly literal metaphor for the 'corruption' of television.

Cult Film Status

Videodrome's cult film status has made it a popular source for sampling and homage in industrial and heavy metal music. It ranks seventh on the Top 334 Sample Sources list [1] (http://www.arch.usyd.edu.au/~andy/webbhead/samples/sourcelist.html)and has been sampled in at least 18 individual songs. Its most prominently quoted line is "Long live the new flesh" was even used as the chorus for the Wiseblood song "0-0 (Where Evils Dwells)" (later covered by Fear Factory).

The metal band Videodrone takes its name from the film.

Videodrome is also the name of and independant video store in Atlanta, Georgia.

Japanese film director Hideo Nakata has said that the scene of the malicious ghost Sadako coming out of the television in the film Ringu was inspired by Videodrome. Coincidentally, the Ring virus of the Japanese films and the first two novels and the Metastatic Human Cancer Virus of the final novel, Loop, operate in a similar fashion to the Videodrome signal, although author Koji Suzuki has not said anything on whether or not this is also a reference to Videodrome.


Movies by David Cronenberg
Transfer | From the Drain | Stereo | Crimes of the Future | Shivers | Rabid | Fast Company | The Brood | Scanners | The Dead Zone | Videodrome | The Fly | Dead Ringers | Naked Lunch | M. Butterfly | Crash | eXistenZ | Spider
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