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Videodrome (The Criterion Collection)

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

When Max Renn goes looking for edgy new shows for his sleazy cable TV station, he stumbles across the pirate broadcast of a hyperviolent torture show called "Videodrome." As he unearths the origins of the program, he embarks on a hallucinatory journey into a shadow world of right-wing conspiracies, sadomasochistic sex games, and bodily transformation. Renn’s ordinary life dissolves around him, he finds himself at the center of a conflict between opposing factions in the struggle to control the truth behind the radical human future of "the New Flesh." Starring James Woods and Deborah Harry in one of her first film roles, Videodrome is one of writer/director David Cronenberg’s most original and provocative works, fusing social commentary with shocking elements of sex and violence. With groundbreaking special effects makeup by Academy Award®-winner Rick Baker, Videodrome has come to be regarded as one of the most influential and mind-bending science fiction films of the 1980s, and The Criterion Collection is proud to present it in its full-length unrated edition.

Additional Features

Criterion's presentation of Videodrome is thoughtful, thorough, cleverly designed (the keepcase resembles a vintage Betamax cassette from the film), and authoritative in its appreciation of Cronenberg's influential film. In his eloquent commentary, Cronenberg expounds on issues of censorship, his admiration for Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, the challenge of filming with an incomplete script, and the use of pioneering makeup and video effects in the pre-CGI era. Cronenberg's comments alternate with those of cinematographer Mark Irwin, who provides humorous and knowledgeable insight into the technical aspects of Videodrome's complicated production. Commentary by James Woods and costar Deborah Harry are similarly alternated, and Woods (an avowed cinephile and intellectual) proves a most fascinating spokesman for the film's prescient themes, while Harry conveys well-spoken acceptance and understanding of Cronenberg's challenging material. Cronenberg's 2000 short "Camera" is included, featuring Videodrome actor Les Carlson in a playful and thought-provoking treatise on the reality-altering nature of the cinematic image.

Disc 2 supplements are rich and varied, highlighted by "Fear on Film," a fascinating 1982 panel discussion hosted by Mick Garris (later a well-known horror director) and featuring directors John Landis, John Carpenter, and Cronenberg at the peak of their box-office powers. In "Forging the New Flesh," filmmaker (and Videodrome's video effects supervisor) Michael Lennick combines on-set footage with new and vintage interviews with principal cast and crew. The rest is a potpourri of Videodrome elements, including "Videodrome" videos from the film's deviant broadcasts, with optional commentary by Cronenberg and Lennick; audio interviews with Lennick and makeup wizard Rick Baker; original trailers and a "making of" featurette; and a stills gallery, makeup tests, and publicity materials. The 40-page booklet includes a superb essay by critic Carrie Rickey, a revised on-set report by Video Watchdog publisher Tim Lucas, and a contextual appreciation by novelist and culture critic Gary Indiana. Taken together, these supplements make Criterion's Videodrome an important archival addition to Cronenberg's oeuvre. --Jeff Shannon


Special Features

  • New digital transfer on unrated version with restored image and sound
  • Camera, a short film starring Videodrome's Les Carlson, written and directed by David Cronenberg in 2000 as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Toronto Film Festival
  • Farming the New Flesh, a new half-hour documentary featurette about the creation of Videodrome's landmark video and prosthetic makeup effects
  • Samurai Dreams, the complete and unedited faux Japanese AV feature seen in the film
  • Fear on Film, a 26-minute roundtable discussion from 1981 between filmmakers David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, John Landis, and Mick Garris
  • Stills Gallery
  • Original theatrical trailers and promotional featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: James Woods, Deborah Harry, Sonja Smits, Peter Dvorsky, Leslie Carlson
  • Directors: David Cronenberg
  • Writers: David Cronenberg
  • Producers: Claude Héroux, Lawrence Nesis, Pierre David, Victor Solnicki
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: August 31, 2004
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002DB50E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,597 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Videodrome (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Edelman TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 1, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
TV will rot your brain, some say- and in the world of Videodrome, that's exactly what happens. A group working with a media philosopher (a nice parody of Marshall McCluhan) has created a signal that can be superimposed on a video program that will, quite literally, mutate the brain. It may be a tumor- or it may be a new organ. It's infected cable TV president Max Venn (James Woods), and is starting to change him and his world in bizarre ways.
Videodrome is a wonderfully original movie that mixes a well crafted script with some novel (for the time) special effects and a marvelous darkly comic sensibility. Puns abound; the president of "Spectacular Optics"- itself a pun- is named Convex. Brian Oblivion (the Marshall McCluhan parody) founded the "Cathode Ray Mission" (as in "cathode ray emission"), where the homeless and destitute are re-integrated into society by providing them with exposure to television.
Underneath this is a dark, sexual theme- Max's attraction to the images of bondage and sadism that are his undoing, and to radio psychologist Nikki (Debbie Harry, in a compelling if inartful performance) who is willing to go a lot farther than is Max in her pursuit of kinky thrills.
Is Max really being physically transformed, or is it all in his head? Is the New Flesh real, or another delusion? All in all, a compelling and original film that will delight any fan of cult films and erotic horror.
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86 of 102 people found the following review helpful By J. MacAyeal on September 6, 2005
Format: DVD
Videodrome is not only one of the top three horror/sci-fi movies made in the last 25 years it also has the distinguishing trait of having been given one of the best royal treatments from Criterion. If you need basic plot and such look elsewhere. This review is more about why this is one of the greatest films of all time.

First, the film: A must-have for any film collector, not just a horror or sci-fi buff. James Woods plays a Cable-TV station owner who broadcasts soft-porn and adult entertainment. His favorite technician shows him a pirated TV show called Videodrome in which people are tortured and killed. Woods pursues this show, watching more and more of it until his investigations lead him to two sources: The Videodrome show producers itself and the show's arch-enemy, The Cathode Ray Mission. Woods discovers that the show transmits a signal that creates a tumor in the brain that leads to S+M hallucinations. Woods begins to hallucinate incredible sexual/violent nightmares ( the fleshy TV set)and finds himself as a pawn between the two entities. Videodrome plans on using Woods' station to transmit the violent Videodrome show in order to kill the audience of porn. Videodrome owner Barry Convex "programs" Woods to kill his partners at the station and the Cathode Ray Mission Leader, Bianca O'Blivion. Bianca "counter programs" Woods into killing the Videodrome people. Bianca declares that Woods has "evolved" (Darwinism on its ear) into The New Flesh, an allegory of an information-age human with a body that mutates via hallucination. In the end, Woods, alone and his head filled with tumors, is prompted by his now dead girlfriend (Deborah Harry in the flesh TV set) to "evolve" into the next stage by shooting himself.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Swederunner on October 1, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The TV producer Max Renn (James Woods) works for a sleazy TV network that focuses on violence, sex, and other bizarre programs. Max's job is to search and find programs that keep pushing the aggressive nature of the network and can keep the viewer numbers up. Years of exposure to violence and sex have diminished the effect that the brutality and sexuality have on Max. As a result Max continues to search for something rough and more sadistic, and through an employee of the network he finds a pirate cable show, Videodrome.

The nature of the Videodrome is as Max refers to it as, "It's just murder and torture. No plot. No characters." It is the cutting edge, no pun intended, of cable TV for Max as it is rougher and more brutal than anything else that he has seen. Max tapes the show and becomes fixated with the pirated shows. This also begins to affect Max's social life as he meets Nicki (Deborah Harry) with whom he initiates a sadistic romance. Max begins to track the source down for Videodrome, which initially seems to be sent from Malaysia. However, further investigation leads Max to Pittsburgh, and he realizes that it is connected with a nightmarish cult.

David Cronenberg creates a terrifying atmosphere where reality and delusions begin to blend. This shadow land draws the audience into a paranoid cinematic experience where the threat is located directly in front of them, the television. The exceptional special effects are a big part of creating the bizarre atmosphere, which are startling with the breathing video tapes, open stomachs, and a sensually moving television. Videodrome carries Cronenberg's distinctive insignia as it is unique, disturbing, and groundbreaking.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 7, 2006
Format: DVD
They say you either love or hate this rather bizarre offering from 1983, but I found myself somewhat indifferent as Videodrome approached its conclusion. To my mind, the final third of the story is ultimately too haphazard, esoteric, and too consciously horror-driven to clearly express the themes worked into the heart of the film. It's easy to read a lot into this film, but that's as much of a credit to the viewer as it is to the filmmakers.

Still, Videodrome is certainly a fascinating, unique film that compels the viewer to contrast the interplay between video and real life in our increasingly technological age. By 1983, most people were already seeing life through a television screen - TV defined the news, fashion, the latest fads, etc. In the movie, TV plays as integral a part as food and comfort in the rehabilitation of the homeless taken in at the Cathode Ray Mission run by Dr. O'Blivion (Jack Creley). Rather than paint the television as a soul-draining maker of brain-dead zombies, Videodrome forges its way down an even more frightening path, where television is used as a potential weapon on the masses.

James Woods plays Max Renn, a rather sleazy cable operator who depends on shocking television shows to keep his little station up and running. He discovers many of his shows through satellite piracy, and that is just how Videodrome first comes to his attention. He is fascinated with the show, which features nothing but torture and abuse of individuals, especially women, with no sign of a plot anywhere behind it. It's just the kind of shocking new thing he's after, and so he begins searching for its source.
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