Videodrome (1983)

David Cronenberg is one of those directors whose work I always think I should be familiar with, but it almost seems too late to start watching. It's like there's some piece of my education missing; like maybe I was off sick the day movies like Videodrome, Scanners and The Fly were covered at school.

But I'm glad that I have finally found the time to watch them, because they're actually great. The Fly is one of my all-time favourite horror movies now, and Videodrome might as well go up there, too.

The plot, for anyone as Cronenberg-deficient as me, goes something like this: Max Renn, a TV exec, is always on the lookout for the next big thing, or at least the next new, cheap, sensationalist thing. When he stumbles across Videodrome - a show that depicts nothing but very, very realistic torture - he's determined to get the rights to distribute it. In the course of his investigations, he encounters Bianca O'Blivion, the daughter of an eccentric who may or may not be behind Videodrome. She tells him that Videodrome is dangerous; that there's something in the signal that causes brain tumours, which in turn cause hallucinations. Max's new girlfriend, Nicki Brand (Debbie Harry - yes, that one) has already been seduced by Videodrome, having set off to get involved with the production, never to be seen again. Max agrees to let his hallucinations be studied, but someone somewhere is manipulating him, using him for their own sinister purposes...

Or maybe it's all one big hallucination.

The ambiguity of the plot, combined with the social commentary and horrific, nightmarish imagery in Videodrome have all contributed to its current cult status, and, unlike so many films which don't live up to their own hype, this one deserves its reputation. It's also a little worrying that the issues it throws up are still startlingly relevant today, some twenty-odd years later.

Overall, though, this movie just makes me wish Cronenberg was still making horror movies.

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