The spine on the cassette box blended in so well at the thrift store that I would’ve missed it. I walked into this movie only reading the entry in the 1001 book and handling the Criterion Collection print at a Barnes & Noble, only to put it back on the shelf when I saw the price. I figured it would be an interesting experience by watching a discarded VHS rental copy from New York on a flatscreen in the dark before bed. What could possibly go wrong?
A CEO of a television station is exposed to a bizarre program and loses touch with reality as he is caught in a game of cat and mouse.
From what I recall from the entry, I imagined the entire film would have wall-to-wall nightmare fuel. It wasn’t until the 35 minute mark that things developed a life of their own. Sure, there was some weird imagery before that but nothing over the top. Then came the living tape.
The videotape piqued my interest. I kept asking myself how exactly that was done as it pulsed and squirmed in Max’s hand. The television warped and the screen expanded. I’m looking at the back of the box just to remind myself what year the film was made. I was impressed.
Now, some of the effects and content are byproducts of the time. Betamax, anyone? There are a few frames where you notice that the shot moved slightly just to film an effect. The helmet imagery was lo-res but I wasn’t expecting 1080p for an 80’s movie. I can’t really complain as the majority of the special effects still hold up today.
Watching Max fall into the mystery of Videodrome is very dizzying. I was on board for the most part but then, like Max, I didn’t know who to trust. The lines were very blurred, making a gray morality. I tried piecing things together but as the film progressed, it left me with no clear-cut answers.
But why broadcast Videodrome to everyone, let alone conceive it? There is no real need. To program a signal capable of hallucinations and tumors disguised as ultraviolent torture for what purpose? It’s an interesting form of brainwashing. How you can deprogram someone from that, I don’t know or can explain.
Even with all of this, I enjoyed watching Videodrome. This was my first experience with David Cronenberg and I look forward to watching more of his work.
1001 MYMSBYD selection