The Criterion Collection Blu-ray: Videodrome (1983)

Videodrome (1983)

Company: Criterion Collection

Starring: James Wood, Sonja Smits, Deborah Harry,

Plot: A sleazy cable-TV programmer begins to see his life and the future of media spin out of control in a very unusual fashion when he acquires a new kind of programming for his station.

My Review and Thoughts:

Welcome to Channel 83 cable 12 CIVIC TV.

What else can be said about this film other then my own point of view and review. Lets all turn to Channel 83 and tune into CIVIC TV home of soft core porn to hardcore violence. This is a trip into a twisted idea of sexual pleasure through violence and the art of media, being turned on by television. The violence and sex is one thing but the concept of becoming one with the technology that displays it, can run rampant, in this odd, freaky, mind numbing picture by the master David Cronenberg.

Videodrome has been a major part of most of my life I remember seeing it when I was seven years old and was floored and haunted by it’s un-reality. I have sense seen this film more or less over a hundred times and it never seems to fade on me. Yes one can say the movie is dated and does not hold up on certain aspects as time passes but overlooking the VHS and clothes and technology of the time and more or less embracing it as a metaphor of reality for all ages of time is the right thing to do when watching this film.

Cronenberg writes in a sexual erotic nature with objects and ideas in many of his films. He places the darker ideas of sexual pleasure in the senses of touch and futuristic and weird type of setting’s for the viewer. Such as the erotic pleasure through the television, as you watch a snuff TV show that in this film, they come upon by accident through a so called scrambled TV signal or at least that is suppose to be the truth at first. The eyes in a sense become the portal of the TV and the sexual acts on the screen become the erotic nature inside the one that is watching. A metamorphoses type reaction to the viewer in the film such as James Woods character Max.

This film is about control and brain washing and in a sense an ethnic cleansing. Instead of race being the focal point its the reality of the mind and its disturbing nature that needs to be cleansed and Videodrome is the one to do that.

James Woods plays Max Renn who runs an erotic and violent sleazy channel for the deeper darker desires. He wants more then what he has, he wants it darker, edgy and deep and so he starts looking for the perfect pleasure on the screen for the viewer. In the process he stumbles upon that scrambled signal of a show called Videodrome which showcases torture and sadomasochism. He wants it for his channel and so he sets out to discover the basis and production of this show.

What he ends up finding is a total nightmare come to life and yet also an erotic reality that is the edge he is seeking and yet also is the edge that pushes the boundaries of what should and should not be done.

This is a film that takes the viewer on a trip inside the world of the underworld, the reality that is hidden and swept under the rug all the way to conspiracies and acid like hallucinatory images. This film showcases a true changing of the self through mutation and desire all along stepping into a sadomasochistic sex orgy.

This plays on that concept does violence in movies and TV corrupt and destroy society. This steps on that reality of showcasing the ideas that what you think you know is happening is in fact not what is happening. Is it real or is it all in your mind due to the fact of watching the violence and sex to the point the human mind cannot pick out real or fake anymore.

Max Renn sees the Videodrome program as a great way to make money, no production value only hardcore violence, sex and murder all taking place in one room for hours upon hours of torture for the viewer. The film does not hide the reality of mixing the concept of pain and pleasure. Cronenberg showcases this idea in vivid detail through images of pain and sex on screen.

There is a massive artistic value to this film. A darker coloring of images and those images are desire painted next with odd special effects and makeup and dream like states. The viewer in a sense becomes part of the film and sees the confusion through the characters. You the viewer are confused on what the hell is happening right along with the characters on screen.

The concept of TV being reality, of the TV becoming reality through the images it displays is a futuristic idea that works in many ways. The basis of what you are seeing is the real and everything around you is basically illusion because you can’t watch or see through a screen unfolding. The idea of what you think is fiction is real. Is there a state when one can see what is on the TV and not walk away from it. Max is watching reality TV and yet he is becoming apart of that reality through the idea of lust and pleasure through true realness.

One of my favorite moments in the film is when Max has the open slit in his stomach which in all reality resembles a vagina and then he sticks his hand into it like an open wound to cause a reaction such as a pain mixed with pleasurable feelings and also being shocked out of his mind during the moment.

This was an amazing filmed dream state that makes the viewer of the film react. Another amazing shot is the statement of the whipping of the TV where in today’ s reality it would be the computer that controls us and so we would whip the temptation. In the film he is whipping what gives him his desire. The TV showcases his dark thoughts. It feeds off him like he feeds off it.

This is more then just an odd movie it's a statement about our lives, our temptation, our erotic hidden desires and the very nature that one will go to, to feel good. Beyond the flesh aspect is a statement of the human being, of the electricity of technology mending with the sewn together illusion and reality as they become one.

A masterpiece that still to this days holds it's own as being truly original and one of a kind.

Special Features:

New high-definition digital transfer of the unrated version, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Two audio commentaries: David Cronenberg and director of photography Mark Irwin, and actors James Woods and Deborah Harry
Camera (2000), a short film starring Videodrome’s Les Carlson, written and directed by Cronenberg
Forging the New Flesh, a new half-hour documentary featurette by filmmaker Michael Lennick about the creation of Videodrome’s video and prosthetic makeup effects
Effects Men, a new audio interview with special makeup effects creator Baker and video effects supervisor Lennick
Bootleg Video: the complete footage of Samurai Dreams and seven minutes of transmissions from “Videodrome,” presented in their original, unedited form with filmmaker commentary
Fear on Film, a 26-minute roundtable discussion from 1982 between filmmakers Cronenberg, John Carpenter, John Landis, and Mick Garris
Original theatrical trailers and promotional featurette
Stills galleries featuring hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes production photos, special effects makeup tests, and publicity photos
English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by writers Carrie Rickey, Tim Lucas, and Gary Indiana


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