Review Written by: Joey Dante
What the MPAA Rating should be: R (for disturbing images)
Directed by: David Cronenberg
Written by: David Cronenberg
Produced by: Claude Heroux
Starring: James Woods, Sonja Smits, Deborah Harry, Peter Dvorsky, Leslie Carlson, Jack Creley, Lynne Gorman, Julie Khaner
Studio: Universal Pictures
In 1981, David Cronenberg influenced the world of science fiction with the release of his cult classic Scanners
. Since then, Cronenberg has been a name widely known to the horror and science fiction genres. 1986 marked the release of The Fly
, which is the infamous work of the director. In between these two was Videodrome
, a film that when only watched seems slightly over the top, but still suspenseful and brilliant, but when analyzed becomes a study of society and character and also a manipulation of the mind.
When a cable TV operator named Max Renn witnesses an S&M based pirate broadcast, he begins to admire it. The show is called Videodrome. The longer Max is exposed to Videodrome, the more his obsession with it grows. Max is disturbed, as is his girlfriend Nicki, who is turned on by the sleazy show and even wants to take part in the action. Max finds this to be both insane and hypnotic. His life takes a spin out of control when he begins to experience vivid hallucinations of sex and violence. The biggest problem is that he cannot separate what is real from what is simply in his head. The sublime direction, backed up by the eerie score creates the dark and suspenseful tone of the entire film.
David Cronenberg is so comfortable with his environment that Videodrome
couldn't go wrong. The film accomplishes the feat of leaving the viewer in a state of shock and surprise, but why is it brilliant? Because it puts the viewer through an arresting hallucination while watching. We watch as Cronenberg secretly toys with us, sucking us into the screen without our knowledge, freeing us from all outside occurrences. When the hallucination begins, anything, no matter how over the top is accepted because David Cronenberg knows how to make the viewer adjust to his style, instead of him adjusting to ours.
Max's world continues to spin out of control, fueled by the effects of sexual and violent acts imprinted in his mind, that begin to transform him from an average man into a lunatic. During one of Max's most bizarre hallucinations, a man he seeks help from slips a Videodrome cassette into his stomach, which sparks his urge to lash out. This symbolizes the violence inside Max. The entire film is filled with social commentary that is almost invisible without careful analysis.
is the work of a genius screenwriter and director. Some scenes appear to be overdone, or "over the top," but as Cronenberg continues our hallucination, we accept them. After all, they aren't real. We're just imagining them. By the ending of the film, confusion sets in, because we are not sure exactly what actually happened and what was part of Max's hallucination. Is it real? We will never know for sure. In a David Cronenberg film, anything goes. As my hallucination came to an end, I could finally pick apart this film, and see how truly brilliant and thought provoking it was.
James Woods gets hypnotised by the images of Videodrome.