Would you like an invitation to our beta?
Remarkably prescient about our relationship with audiovisual content, technology, and the search for ever more extreme forms of "entertainment". Performances are variable, as is often the case with Cronenberg, and the plot is fairly loose and open-ended, but Woods is magnetic, and the ideas, visuals and make-up effects are original and memorable.
|James Woods||Max Renn|
|Sonja Smits||Bianca O'Blivion|
|Deborah Harry||Nicki Brand|
|Jack Creley||Brian O'Blivion|
|Lally Cadeau||Rena King|
|Leslie Carlson||Barry Convex|
|Howard Shore||Original Music Composer|
|Mark Irwin||Director of Photography|
|Carol Spier||Art Direction|
|Pierre David||Executive Producer|
|Victor Solnicki||Executive Producer|
|Angelo Stea||Set Decoration|
|Delphine White||Costume Design|
"First it controls your mind. Then it destroys your body."
"First it controlled her mind, then it destroyed her body... Long live the new flesh!"
"First it controls your mind...then it destroys your body"
Max Renn (Woods) is the president of CIVIC-TV, a UHF television station in Toronto that specializes in sensationalistic programming. Displeased with his station's current lineup, Max is looking for something that will break through to a new audience. One morning, he is summoned to the clandestine office of Harlan (Peter Dvorsky), who operates CIVIC-TV's pirate satellite dish which can intercept international broadcasts. Harlan shows him Videodrome, a plotless show apparently being broadcast out of Malaysia which depicts the brutal torture and murder of anonymous victims in a reddish-orange chamber. Believing this to be the future of television — seemingly staged snuff TV — Max orders Harlan to begin pirating the program.Appearing on a talk show, Max defends his station's programming choices to Nicki Brand (Harry), a sadomasochistic psychiatrist and radio host, and Professor Brian O'Blivion (Jack Creley), a pop culture analyst and philosopher who will only appear on television if his image is broadcast into the studio, onto a television, from a remote location. O'Blivion delivers a speech prophesying a future in which television supplants real life. Max dates Nicki, who is sexually aroused when he shows her an episode of Videodrome and coaxes him into having sex with her while they watch it.Harlan tells Max that a signal delay which caused it to appear to be coming from Malaysia was a ploy by the broadcaster, and that Videodrome is being broadcast out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Max informs Nicki, who excitedly goes to Pittsburgh to try and audition for the show under the guise of a business trip. When Nicki fails to return to Toronto, Max contacts Masha (Lynne Gorman), a softcore feminist pornographer with ties to the porn community, and asks her to help him find out the truth about Videodrome. Through Masha, Max learns that not only is the footage in Videodrome not faked, but it is the public "face" of a political movement. Masha further informs him that O'Blivion knows about Videodrome.Max tracks down O'Blivion's office to a mission where homeless people are encouraged to engage in marathon sessions of television viewing. He discovers the mission is run by O'Blivion's daughter, Bianca (Sonja Smits), with the goal of helping to bring about her father's vision of a world in which television replaces every aspect of everyday life. Later, Max views a videotape in which O'Blivion informs him that "the Videodrome" is a socio-political battleground in which a war is being fought for control of the minds of the people of North America."Shortly thereafter, Max begins experiencing disturbing hallucinations in which his torso transforms into a gaping hole that functions as a VCR. Bianca tells him these are side-effects from having viewed Videodrome, which carries a malicious broadcast signal that causes the viewer to develop a malignant brain tumour. O'Blivion helped to create it as part of his vision for the future, but when he found out it was to be used for malevolent purposes, he attempted to stop his partners; they used his own invention to kill him. In the year before his death, O'Blivion recorded tens of thousands of videos, which now form the basis of his television appearances.Max is contacted by Videodrome's producer, the Spectacular Optical Corporation, an eyeglasses company that acts as a front for a NATO weapons manufacturer. The head of Spectacular Optical, Barry Convex (Leslie Carlson), has been secretly working with Harlan to get Max exposed to Videodrome and to have him broadcast it, as part of a crypto-government conspiracy to morally and ideologically "purge" North America and fatal brain tumours to "lowlifes" fixated on extreme sex and violence. Convex then inserts a brainwashing video tape into the "VCR" in Max's torso. Under Convex's influence, Max murders his colleagues at CIVIC-TV, and later attempts to kill Bianca, as Videodrome considered these victims threats to its mission.Bianca successfully 'reprograms' him to turn against Videodrome, in the hope of destroying the project that led to her father's death. On her orders, Max kills Harlan, then tracks Convex to a trade show, where he shoots him to death in front of a horrified crowd. Afterwards, Max takes refuge on a derelict boat in an abandoned harbour, where Nicki appears to him on a TV set. She tells him he has weakened Videodrome, but in order to completely defeat it, he has to ascend to the next level and "leave the old flesh." The television then shows an image of Max shooting himself in the head, which causes the set to explode, splattering the deck of the ship with bloody human intestines. Imitating what he has just seen on TV, Max says "Long Live the New Flesh", and then shoots himself.
Theatrical : 1983-02-04 : United States of America
DVD : 1998-09-08