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"Videodrome" Reviews/Discussion - 2019 Horror Challenge

Old 09-22-19, 10:46 PM
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"Videodrome" Reviews/Discussion - 2019 Horror Challenge





Videodrome (1983)



Selected by Group Vote


Spoiler:















IMDB ENTRY

ALYXSTARR LINK

ALYXSTARR LINK - W/ COMMENTARY BY FILM CRITIC TIM LUCAS

ALYXSTARR LINK - W/ COMMENTARY BY DIRECTOR DAVID CRONENBERG & DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY MARK IRWIN

ALYXSTARR LINK - W/ COMMENTARY ACTORS JAMES WOODS & DEBORAH HARRY

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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags aren't always used in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS.
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2019 DISCUSSION | 2019 LISTS


Last edited by Chad; 10-20-19 at 03:36 PM.
Old 09-30-19, 09:44 PM
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Re: "Videodrome" Reviews/Discussion - 2019 Horror Challenge

Definitely not Cronenberg's best work. I did like this, but to me it had some pacing issues that seemed to make the film seem longer than it actually was. Maybe it had something to do with the hallucinations or maybe it was over the way the story unfolded on the progression of mind control not quite sure which one it was or perhaps it was a little of both. Still prefer Rabid over this title.
Old 09-30-19, 10:43 PM
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Re: "Videodrome" Reviews/Discussion - 2019 Horror Challenge

At first I though Videodrome had more substance than it seemed like this go round, it takes socially conscious technology themes and then just gets phantasmagorical with them. The mission where homeless people can be exposed to television is especially humorous. Near the end I feel like Videodrome falls apart with the whole 'assassin for Videodrome' being reprogrammed - it's seems like a clever analogy for what it might like if people were as television able to have their channel changed, but aside from the oddity never really made any sense to me outside of lampooning technology culture. Great effects and imagery, often just outside of making sense. Like how Bianca Oblivion says she stole a tape of Blondie being killer, when there's no sensical way she would have stole a tape but stuff like that bolsters such an odd movie because nonsense to begin with.
Old 09-30-19, 10:56 PM
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Re: "Videodrome" Reviews/Discussion - 2019 Horror Challenge

I believe this was my second viewing of this... I was hoping that maybe I was just in a bad mood the first time I watched it and I would enjoy it more this time, but that wasn't the case. I don't like this movie and probably never will, despite all the high critical praise it receives. I don't find it interesting. I don't think it's as clever as it seems to think it is...and the only redeeming quality I have of this viewing is that since it's been selected as a subset pick, I will never see it again.
Old 10-01-19, 07:05 AM
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Re: "Videodrome" Reviews/Discussion - 2019 Horror Challenge

I really like this film . I think James Woods is great in it and the story is surprisingly relevant today. People can become so obsessed with technology (Iphones) and tv watching that they lose their identity. I think this film does a good job of demonstrating these ideas.
Old 10-01-19, 08:38 AM
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Re: "Videodrome" Reviews/Discussion - 2019 Horror Challenge

I think the plot falls apart if you think about it too much, so I don’t and just enjoy the visuals and weirdness and great James Wood performance.
Old 10-01-19, 08:51 AM
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Re: "Videodrome" Reviews/Discussion - 2019 Horror Challenge

Second viewing for me as well. I didn't like it anymore this time around but Cronenberg's commentary was interesting and James Woods does give a good performance.
Old 10-01-19, 10:44 AM
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Re: "Videodrome" Reviews/Discussion - 2019 Horror Challenge

"The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena — the videodrome. The television screen is the retina of the mind's eye. Therefore the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore television is reality, and reality is less than television."

Cronenberg was, as usual, way ahead of his time, except that he was criticizing the homogenization of opinion by mass media, and he couldn't have foreseen the political fragmentation of our society by the Internet. In the US we are trapped in a never-ending reality show where television really has been made doughy, orange flesh. Brian O'Blivion only appears on television because only television--or in 2019 social media-- is real. Trump is president because he created an image of success that exists only on TV. Cronenberg even predicted that we would all adopt pseudonyms online--"Of course, O'Blivion was not the name I was born with. That's my television name. Soon all of us will have special names, names designed to cause the cathode ray tube to resonate."

I'm currently reading "Audience of One" by NY Times TV critic James Poniewozik which echoes the themes of television creating reality, in that 1/3 of Americans believe and amplify crank conspiracy theories because they saw them online. We are living in the reality created by Fox News, Facebook, and InfoWars.
Old 10-01-19, 12:22 PM
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Re: "Videodrome" Reviews/Discussion - 2019 Horror Challenge

Television is the tool to reintegrate the homeless back into society.

This is probably my most watched Cronenberg film, having seen it in about 4 times from start to finish. I honestly still can't figure where reality ends and hallucinations begin.

I was in Prague a few years ago and they were having a retrospective of Cronenberg's work including props from some of the movies. The only showing I could make was Videodrome.
Old 10-01-19, 02:59 PM
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Re: "Videodrome" Reviews/Discussion - 2019 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by Gobear
"The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena — the videodrome. The television screen is the retina of the mind's eye. Therefore the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore television is reality, and reality is less than television."

Cronenberg was, as usual, way ahead of his time, except that he was criticizing the homogenization of opinion by mass media, and he couldn't have foreseen the political fragmentation of our society by the Internet. In the US we are trapped in a never-ending reality show where television really has been made doughy, orange flesh. Brian O'Blivion only appears on television because only television--or in 2019 social media-- is real. Trump is president because he created an image of success that exists only on TV. Cronenberg even predicted that we would all adopt pseudonyms online--"Of course, O'Blivion was not the name I was born with. That's my television name. Soon all of us will have special names, names designed to cause the cathode ray tube to resonate."

I'm currently reading "Audience of One" by NY Times TV critic James Poniewozik which echoes the themes of television creating reality, in that 1/3 of Americans believe and amplify crank conspiracy theories because they saw them online. We are living in the reality created by Fox News, Facebook, and InfoWars.
Yep, I'm of the opinion that Videodrome is more relevant than ever. For years I always thought this film's concept of a "screen name" was ahead of its time, but the recent push of propaganda through social media for political manipulation really cements Videodrome's themes as something special. Hell, even with broadcast television, the Sinclair Broadcast Group is using local news stations to push a political agenda that keeps them in power. I definitely think this is top-tier Cronenberg.
Old 10-01-19, 05:33 PM
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Re: "Videodrome" Reviews/Discussion - 2019 Horror Challenge

Videodrome is, to me, a masterpiece of contemporary science fiction. Here's my overlong review from 2012. Spoilerized for size and while I'd edit the fuck out of it, my thoughts on the film are still the same. It's brilliant, terrifying, and haunting.

Spoiler:
You show me a David Cronenberg movie that thematically tackles the transitory nature of the flesh, the inherently stateless class of consciousness, or the symbiotic relationship between man and technology, and I’ll expect any of a dozen movies he’s made over the course of his career. (I still think his masterful 1986 remake of The Fly is the strongest AIDS allegory ever put to film.) Nonetheless, his 1983 masterpiece Videodrome is probably the most concise and brilliant distillation of all these themes at once in all of his work. Taking a cue from Marshall McLuhan’s popularization of the global electronic village, Cronenberg weaves a suspenseful and horrifying science fiction epic in which he posits that the next battleground of human engagement lies in digital consciousness, the television realm… or the “Videodrome” — the circus of the broadcast frequency.

The Internet era has long since made the global village concept a fait accompli, but the early 1980s the landscape was markedly barren in comparison. Mass communication meant still meant television, in which milieu Cronenberg sets his hallucinogenic tale of sexual obsession, mind control and brainwashing as content programming, and, perhaps most presciently, the extreme dangers of partisan rhetoric. James Woods stars as Max Renn, a co-owner of a small UHF station in Toronto which specializes in softcore pornography and ultra-violent content. Renn is always on the prowl for “harder” material, something beyond the pat, predictable, lifeless imagery of geisha girls cavorting around suggestively (but not explicitly) with various sex toys, or medium-budgeted scenes of PG-13 rated Bacchanalia that fail to deliver the visceral rush that would attract even more viewers. Something of a breakthrough occurs when Harlan (Peter Dvorsky), one of his station techies who pirates satellite transmissions from around the world, introduces Max to a scrambled broadcast he discovered out of Malaysia entitled ‘Videodrome’. It features hardcore snuff material — rape, torture, mutilation, all in a single orange-paneled room. No plot or story to be bothered with here; this is degradation from frame one.

Max is obsessed with Videodrome, especially after finding out that the broadcast is originating out of Pittsburgh. He sends his agent Masha (Lynne Gorman) to discover who is producing the series in order to secure the rights for his station. Meanwhile, he meets the enigmatic Nicki Brand (Deborah Harry), a local talk radio personality and a striking figure in scarlet whose obsession with sadomasochism and self-mutilation feeds into (and perhaps fuels) Max’s continued obsession with Videodrome. A passionate encounter in Max’s apartment, while a Videodrome videotape is playing on the background television, seems to drive Max even deeper into its world, both figuratively and literally. Max begins to experience a series of hallucinations, which intensify after Nicki tells Max she’s going to Pittsburgh to find out more about Videodrome, because she wants to participate in the programming herself.

The other major players are television personality Brian O’Blivion (Jack Creley), who is never seen, ever, except on television, and his daughter Bianca (Sanja Smits), who runs the Cathode Ray Mission — a homeless shelter of sorts in which the indigent are reintroduced into society via constant exposure to television. O’Blivion popularized the philosophy of the television being the “retina of the mind’s eye”, that virtual existence is now superseding the physical one. He also has a connection to Videodrome, and as Max’s hallucinations become more intense, he starts to learn the truth about Videodrome; that it’s not simply a snuff program, but perhaps an entire realm of hallucinogenic existence co-developed by O’Blivion, disseminated by television broadcast, controlled by prerecorded content, in which humanity can be programmed as easy as slipping a videotape into a VCR — imagery that is compounded by the sudden appearance of a vaginal slit in Max’s abdomen during one of his hallucinogenic episodes.

If Videodrome represents the next evolution of human existence, it stands to reason that content providers will then be given absolute power over shaping reality. Two contingencies emerge in the battle for control of Videodrome: a right-wing enterprise that would use Videodrome to purge the nation of filth, weakness, and degradation by embedding such programming (like the “Videodrome” show itself) with brain tumor-inducing frequencies, and those who would want to exploit the potential of Videodrome to usher in the next age of human existence via tacit acquiescence to the soft television afterglow. Max, whose grasp on reality has now become tenuous at best, becomes an unwilling pawn trying to be controlled by both sides, whereas Nicki, who has disappeared to find Videodrome itself, is nowhere to be found… if she ever existed at all. If she wasn’t a hallucination caused by Videodrome in the first place…

It’s a heady conceptual mix, but it works. Videodrome is equally as nightmarish in its imagery as it is exhilarating in its presentation. At a brisk 89 minutes, Cronenberg’s masterpiece details a gripping science-fiction narrative that packs enough conceptual content to fuel a half-dozen other movies, yet never feels stuffed nor rushed (nor does it outlast its welcome). Rick Baker’s special effects are grotesque and groundbreaking; steel, wood, plastic, and glass becomes sensual, organic, rhythmic. For horror fans, there’s enough oozing gore and explosive tumorous operatics to satisfy all around. As a visual exercise, it’s a smashing success. But Videodrome is so much more than a brilliant visionary exercise. It confounds, it horrifies, and it challenges the viewer with an intriguing narrative, sharp direction, and incisive 80s social commentary that seems just as relevant 30 years later.

Meet the New Flesh. Same as the Old Flesh.
Old 10-02-19, 11:32 AM
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Re: "Videodrome" Reviews/Discussion - 2019 Horror Challenge

I'm definitely of two minds when it comes to Videodrome. On the one hand, I like the way that it fits so snugly into Cronenberg's filmography, coming between his early films (such as Rabid and The Brood) with their body horrors and his later films that veer more into aberrant behaviors, particularly of the sexual variety (think Crash). I appreciate that Cronenberg even gives these body horrors a name (the "new flesh") while taking them to outlandish extremes in Videodrome.

What I don't like about Videodrome is its inability to serve up a satisfying narrative. Cronenberg mentioned in one of the commentaries that the seed of the film came from his picking up late-night TV signals from US television stations when he was a kid. He wondered what would happen if the signals he accidentally picked up were somehow dangerous, and thus was born the basic plot of the film. The problem that I have with it is that he didn't really have anywhere to go with that idea or any way to give the film a proper ending. After all of the conspiracy hubbub of the film, to have it boil down to one guy having hallucinations and then killing himself seems to me like a step in the wrong direction. I would have much preferred it to have developed along the lines of Blue Sunshine, in that at the end of the film, the situation presented is just starting to get really out of control. But that's a personal preference, and I can really only react to the film as the director made it.

It's just not one of my favorite films by Cronenberg. In fact, it's a toss-up as to which film of his I like the least--this one or Spider. Technically, the film is fine; I just feel that Cronenberg lost control of his narrative about halfway through it.

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