Friday, 6 April 2012

Horror Review: Videodrome (1983)

Max Renn runs a TV channel, and when looking for new material to show, he discovers "Videodrome." His girlfriend, Nicki Brand, goes to audition for the show, and Max gets drawn into the underlying plot that uses the show as its front for a global conspiracy.

This film is a mixture of Horror, Sci-Fi with a little mystery thrown in for good measure. The genres mix so well together, David Cronenberg did a fantastic job writing and directing this 80's cult Classic.

James Woods was a great casting choice for this quirky, yet disturbing film, He plays a sleazy cable-TV programmer and he plays it so well. He is an actor that can often be overlooked and forgotten but in this flick he truly puts in an amazing performance.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not a huge fan of musicians in films but the addition of Debbie (Blondie) Harry was also a great choice. She certainly sets the bar high for other mudsicians turning their trade to the acting world.

I can't talk about this film without mentioning the AMAZING effects. The 80's was truly a golden age for practical effects and this film is evidence to that statement, the effects team truly outdid themselves. Also the storyline is one of the best I've seen in a film. Yes it's a mystery/sci-fi story but don't let that turn you away because the Horror elements of the film are truly outstanding.

There has been word of a remake which, personally, I don't feel is needed. I just can't see how you can top this film, especially with the fact that the VHS is no longer used and the progression of technology has moved so far forward since this release. Some films should be left alone and I think this is one of them.

The film is truly an 80's classic, if you haven't seen it then you're missing out! So get watching it before that remake is made.

To watch the trailer for "Videodrome" click here

Miscellaneous facts about the film:

  • David Tsubouchi, who appears here briefly as a Japanese porn dealer, later became a Minister in the Ontario provincial government. His appearance in this controversial film as a pornographer was exploited by the opposition. 
  • The chest-slit sequences had James Woods built into a couch with the chest-slit apparatus glued onto him. Woods swore he would never work with anything that had to be glued onto him ever again! During filming the sequences with the flesh-gun (which "fired" bursts of cold, vaporous gas), Woods played a prank on director David Cronenberg by smearing his (real) hand with blue paint and pretending he had frostbite. 
  • During filming of the Cathode Ray mission sequence, the film's gaffer, Jock Brandis, walked in and casually informed the crew that the power lines to the building were smoking because of the load imposed on them by the TV sets. 
  • An epilogue was planned but never filmed. In it, Max Renn, Bianca O'Blivion and Nicki Brand appear on the set of Videodrome. Bianca and Nicki are shown to have chest slits (vaginas) of their own, from which emerge strange mutated sex organs. The scene was scrapped along with many others due to cost overruns, bad timing (Deborah Harry had stomach flu and James Woods was visiting relatives), and the sheer difficulty of executing such a special-effects scene. A number of other ambitious special effects sequences were also dropped. 
  • The majority of the trailer was created with a Commodore 64 computer. 
  • Among the scenes that were scripted but deleted was one where Max Renn's TV rises up out of his bathtub, while showing an image. The crew had researched how to do this - there had been talk of having the actor IN the tub - and had come up with several solutions. One involved filling the tub with a clear fluid that was nonconductive, but that would have cost $25 a quart. The crew eventually decided to take a real TV and simply cover its insides with layers of waterproofing insulation. It worked - they dunked the TV into a swimming pool and found, to their astonishment, that TVs float due to the airspace inside the picture tube. The scene was axed just before it was to be filmed. 
  • Two Atari 2600 Joystick Controllers and a copy of Combat can be seen on top of Max's television. 
  • Andy Warhol called the movie the "A Clockwork Orange of the 1980s". 
  • The character of Brian O'Blivion is based on Marshall McLuhan. David Cronenberg was a student of McLuhan's during college. 
  • One of five Sci-Fi/Horror movies that were heavily promoted by Universal Pictures prior to their impending releases in 1982 and given prospective release dates. The others were: E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, The Thing (both set release dates for that summer), Halloween 3 (October), The Dark Crystal and this film (December). This ultimately changed when Universal pushed back the film from it's original slated release date to February 1983. 
  • The TV station "Civic TV" is patterned after City TV, an actual television station which started out in Toronto and was particularly infamous for showing soft-core sex films as part of its late night programming schedule. At one point in the film, one of Max Renn's partners is called "Moses" which is a reference to City TV founder Moses Znaimer.

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