Friday, September 25, 2015

Weekly schlock and Cronenberg

I’m hot and cold with David Cronenberg movies.

A quick aside….

This dude makes some outrageous stuff. I might not like everything he does, but damn is the majority of it just next level bonkers! The guy is has a delightfully twisted mind. I respect that.

When it  comes to the movies of his I have seen: The Fly, The Dead Zone, Scanners, and A History of Violence I find good on various levels, but I did not really enjoy Eastern Promises, Shivers, Naked Lunch, Crash and The Brood. I have never given Videodrome a chance. Not because I heard anything really bad about it, but mostly because I have been more disappointed than not when it comes to Cronenberg movies. Videodrome is on a lot of must see lists, so I added it to the queue to see why this is a favorite among so many.

We start with Max Renn (a fantastic character name) who is the head of a local cable channel. His station is known for startling and crazy shows. He knows that sex, violence and a mix of the two sell. However, he is always looking for something new to get the viewers. Low and behold a satellite control lackey finds a pirate broadcast of some torture, rape and murder show called Videodrome. Max sees this as a great bit of new programming and begins a search to find out more about it.
Best/worst show ever!

This is where the film goes all bonkers! Max begins a hunt for this Videodrome stuff that leads him: onto a talk show, he has a strange yet sexual relationship with the lead singer of Blondie, to a mission/church where the dregs of society watch/worship t.v., on a search for Professor Brian O’Blivion (another fantastic name) a pop culture guru and philosopher and Videodrome insider, to the lair of an eye glasses magnate and front for N.A.T.O.  and if this wasn’t strange enough max begins to have visions and trippy dreams about everything associated with Videodrome. Holy crap snacks this gets real wyrd real quick!

Videodrome - VHS

Even better is that Max has formed an organic and toothy VCR opening in his belly. This allows for insertion of fleshy  and nipply video cassettes into Max that “program” him. Even better is that Max has some sort of freaky face sex with his undulating and quasi-fleshy television. You learn that Professor O’Blivion has been dead for quite some time and is communicating through video recordings he made years earlier. Like he knew what conversations to have with people years in advance. Videodrome is also prone to causing brain tumors that are benign unless you are an avid fan of Videodrome. In that case these tumors will kill you. Max is being pulled in two different directions  by lovers and haters of Videodrome. Now he must break free or succumb to help or to stop Videodrome.

Damn this movie is strange, but I knew it would be before I threw it in the queue!

I guess back when cable was starting, like when this was released, there was a wild west feel to a lot of channels as they had to fill time. Was Videodrome a reflection on that time?  Was it just another crazy idea that came from the mind of David Cronenberg? I have no idea. I do know that the running theme of extreme in entertainment is still viable today. With the plethora of television channels and the want to be the channel with the most viewers;  one can see some relevance in the plot of this movie today.

The sheer craziness of this film makes it hard to recommend. The Videodrome channel rape, torture and murder images are tame by today’s horror movies, but for 1980 this had to have been incredibly disturbing. The various fleshy growths and body modification effects are creepy  and fun though, but that is not uncommon in this realm of films . I really wanted to like this movie, but I just couldn’t get there. There is a good technology meets horror story here, but it is just buried under a pile of fleshy growths, S&M Debbie Harry and a lot of the bizarre.

“Long live the new flesh.”

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