Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



 Directed by David Cronenberg.
Starring James Woods, Deborah Harry, Sonja Smits, Peter Dvorsky, Jack Creley.
Horror/Sci-Fi, Canada, 87 mins, cert 18.


Released in the UK on Limited Edition 4K UHD via Arrow Video on 24th October 2022.


David Cronenberg’s VIDEODROME is a movie that seems to get more and more relevant with each year that passes. You already know this, of course, because VIDEODROME is one of those movies that has been hanging around near the top of every connoisseurs list of favourite/best horror movies ever since it was originally released back in 1983, when VHS tapes of hardcore sex and horror movies were seen as the devil’s work; hell, they still are, as the recent headlines about the gory TERRIFIER 2 prove, only the formats change and it is no longer a bulky cassette tape that puts those potentially damaging images into your brain.


Perhaps it is for that very reason that Arrow Video have decided to give Cronenberg’s warning about the harmful effects of the media and the way we consume a 4K UHD upgrade, polishing up those colours and sharpening up those edges to present the movie in a much cleaner way than the videotapes featured in it provide, and given that you have a 4K TV to watch it on then the images of James Woods running around with a fleshy hand/gun hybrid is likely to be a lot more immersive than it was on a small tube television 35 years ago.


If you are unfamiliar with VIDEODROME then Woods plays Max Renn, a sleazy programmer for a cheap and nasty TV channel that provides extreme images of sex and violence – the sort you cannot get anywhere else, according to Renn – who discovers a pirate broadcast called ‘Videodrome’, which depicts women being abused, tortured and, apparently, killed in front of the camera. Turned on by this, Renn sets out to discover the source of ‘Videodrome’ but discovers a global conspiracy to control the minds of the population using TV broadcasts, along with some other weird stuff that only David Cronenberg could conceive.


With David Cronenberg back in the world of body horror with his latest movie CRIMES OF THE FUTURE, there is no better time to discover or re-visit VIDEODROME as it perfectly sets up the director’s vision and style, if you are unfamiliar, or handily reminds you that before he did graphic novel adaptations and appeared in TV shows, David Cronenberg was the master of the weird and wonderful. As a movie with a narrative, VIDEODROME is quite tough to take in on the first viewing as it does get very strange very quickly, featuring all manner of kinks and fetish for Max Renn to indulge in with Nicki Brand (Deborah Harry) before he discovers the true nature of ‘Videodrome’, but the imagery that Cronenberg conjures up is as memorable as his commentary on the media is potent, and by the end we go full-on gooey body horror as Max Renn cannot decipher between what is real and what has been planted in his brain.


Coming packaged in a limited edition slipcase with reversible artwork (there is also an original artwork version available), the disc comes with the same extras as the Blu-ray that Arrow put out a few years ago – audio commentary with Tim Lucas, crew interviews, Cronenberg featurettes, a short film, the FEAR ON FILM round table discussion with David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, John Landis and Mick Garris, plus more – and also features a 60-page booklet containing essays on Cronenberg’s works, retrospectives and extracts from the CRONENBERG ON CRONENBERG book, plus exclusive art cards. Is it enough to make you want to upgrade, though? The 4K UHD image is certainly sharper and more lurid than any previous releases, but VIDEODROME was always a good-looking movie anyway, the point where David Cronenberg’s movies stopped looking like gritty 1970s horror and embrace the brighter aesthetics of the ‘80s, so it really is down to whether you want Nicki Brand’s red dress to look even redder, but if you have the ability to watch movies in 4K UHD then you may as well use it. After all, it’s what David Cronenberg would want you to do.


Chris Ward.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans