Videodrome (1983)
Directed by David Cronenberg

Starring Deborah Harry James Woods Leslie Carlson Peter Dvorsky Sonja Smits

"Long Live the New Flesh!" -- Max Renn (James Woods)

James Woods is a TV producer who stumbles across a satellite signal for a bizarre, S&M channel that appears to be presenting snuff movies 24 hours a day. As he looks deeper and deeper into who's running the mysterious channel, he starts having grotesque and gory hallucinations and begins to suspect that the station's signal has somehow given him a brain tumor, slowly driving him insane. He assassinates what he thinks is a political leader using a handgun grafted to his hand. He kisses a set of giant lips emanating from a TV screen.

Fans and critics alike were taken aback by this rather inaccessible film, which was a little ahead of its time and too bizarre for even readers of Fangoria Magazine. Dreamlike and artsy, the flick also bombed at screenings. By the time it had been made, Cronenberg already had sealed a deal to direct Stephen King's "Dead Zone," so he was already well on his way to becoming a mainstream filmmaker.

Despite the fact that even fans were befuddled by the movie upon its release, looking back, it stands out as one of Cronenberg's very best. Dreamlike, arty, paranoid and loaded with kick-ass Rick Baker effects, the movie delivers. Why is Videodrome so dangerous? "Because it has a philosophy," Woods' character is told by a friend in the film. We get the sense that there is much more to the evil of Videodrome than meets the eye and we become curious what the philosophy is behind it. Only Cronenberg really knows.

The film was badly marketed when it first came out, with the studio releasing a trailer that made it look like a rock 'n roll film, simply because Deborah Harry co-stars in it (as a radio psychologist who beds Woods). Blondie fans will want to see her in a nude, bizarre S&M sex scene involving piercing ears, that garnered the film "Unrated" status as an uncut video release.

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-- Review by Lucius Gore

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