February 4th, 1983



No valid json found

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.

Release Year: 1983

Rating: 7.3/10 (27,979 voted)

Critic's Score: 65/100

Director: David Cronenberg

Stars: James Woods, Deborah Harry, Sonja Smits

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.

James Woods - Max Renn
Sonja Smits - Bianca O'Blivion
Deborah Harry - Nicki Brand
Peter Dvorsky - Harlan
Leslie Carlson - Barry Convex (as Les Carlson)
Jack Creley - Brian O'Blivion
Lynne Gorman - Masha
Julie Khaner - Bridey
Reiner Schwartz - Moses
David Bolt - Raphael
Lally Cadeau - Rena King
Henry Gomez - Brolley
Harvey Chao - Japanese Salesman
David Tsubouchi - Japanese Salesman
Kay Hawtrey - Matron

Taglines: A vision of enormous physical impact!

Release Date: 4 February 1983

Filming Locations: Fleetwood Apartments, 64 St. Clair Ave. W., Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Box Office Details

Budget: $5,952,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $1,194,175 (USA) (6 February 1983) (600 Screens)

Gross: $2,120,439 (USA) (13 February 1983)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | USA: (unrated version)

Did You Know?

The majority of the trailer was created with a Commodore 64 computer.

[First line]
Man's voice on television: Civic TV. The one you take to bed with you.

User Review

I just can't cope with the freaky stuff.

Rating: 10/10

Well, Mr. Convex, too bad for you... Videodrome, David Cronenberg's first masterpiece, tells the tale of one Max Renn. Played with expert sleaziness by James Woods, Renn oversees a low-rent, exploitative cable network, which specializes in showing increasingly violent and pornographic shows. When he stumbles upon the satellite transmission of "Videodrome" - a realistic S&M/Torture show from Pittsburgh - Renn believes that he's discovered the next wave. Then come the hallucinations... maybe dead bodies, cancer guns, stomach-vulvas, etc. Reality bends and, perhaps, Videodrome has taken over...

In every respect, Videodrome is a great film, managing to repulse and intrigue simultaneously. It is horrific and contains numerous science-fiction motifs, but, unlike the horror and special effects driven pictures of today, Videodrome, to quote the film, has a philosophy. Videodrome is not about mind-controlling cable shows; it is about our un-healthy consumption of visual media. I may not agree with Cronenberg's vision of our relationship with TV, but it is never less than interesting. It's refreshing to see a movie about more than itself; it seems that, since the 1980s, these types of films have become increasingly rare and that's a shame. Maybe it's only nostalgia, but the era when films like Videodrome and Dawn of the Dead were being made by major studios and released to huge audiences seems like a Golden Age to my mind.

Here's to hoping those days will return. What's truly brilliant about Videodrome, beyond its decision to base itself upon an idea, is its seamless blending of the characters' realities and their hallucinations. After the forty-five minute mark, what actually happens becomes lost as we enter deeper and deeper in the the tortured psyche of Max Renn. It is impossible, by the end of the movie, to know what actually happened. Unlike a movie like Donnie Darko, which left me puzzled and irritable, I accept the puzzlement of Videodrome because an explanation would have lessened the film's visceral impact. The open-endedness of the narrative melds perfectly with a film that revels in the hallucination/reality divide. If the characters cannot comprehend what is actually happening, why should we?

As mentioned, every element of this film works. There are amazing set-pieces (throbbing televisions and gurgling video cassettes) and moments of beautiful photography (the shots of Renn approaching the harbor for instance). The acting, even by Debbie Harry in her first starring role, is excellent. James Woods, in particular, excels. He has always been one of my favorite actors and brings to Renn a level of sleaziness that perhaps could have been achieved by only him or Harry Dean Stanton.

This is Cronenberg's first masterpiece (sorry, I'm not too keen on his earlier work, as it doesn't meld his ideas and venereal/technological horror as well) and started a string of absolutely brilliant films. For me, it's also his greatest masterpiece; it's (forgive me for using this word) postmodern vision is spell-binding and the story is, I think, his most imaginative to date. As his career went forward, Cronenberg became more and more respectable and, I think, that hurt his work slightly. In Videodrome, he is at the top of his form and working with his most amazing cast. The movie is an acquired taste and will not appeal to everyone, but I highly recommend it and think you should all watch it with an open mind.


Comments are closed.