Television can change your mind... Videodrome will change your body!
"Death to Videodrome! Long live the New Flesh!"
Videodrome is a horror/sci-fi film directed by David Cronenberg.It is a surreal movie, one of the poster children for Body Horror. Like all of Cronenberg's movies, it has a strong intellectual undercurrent. The film deals with Marshall McLuhan's philosophies and examines the relationship between television and its audience. Cronenberg was greatly influenced by McLuhan's theories.More specifically, the film follows the CEO of a small cable station who stumble upon a broadcast signal that is broadcasting extremely violent and horrific things. He investigates. As you might expect from Cronenberg, things get worse...
This film provides examples of:
Affectionate Parody / No Celebrities Were Harmed - Brian O'Blivion is a parody of Marshall McLuhan, whose ideas are the central theme of the movie. He only exists in video tapes, parodying McLuhan's famous proclamation: "I refuse to appear on television, except on television," a line O'Blivion quotes verbatim in his first appearance.
Author Appeal: Characters ranting about the power of flesh? Yep, it's a Cronenberg film.
Bedmate Reveal: Played for horror. When Max wakes up in his bed late in the film after an extended Videodrome hallucination, he finds someone laying next to him. When he removes the sheets it turns out to be the corpse of an associate of his, tied up and tortured to death. He calls up a friend to come over and look, but it turns out he was again hallucinating and his bed is empty.
Black and Grey Morality: Barry Convex may be a clear bad guy, but Bianca O'Blivion is no saint either. She uses Max just as Barry did, and the only difference is that she shows a little remorse but still uses him to kill her enemies and drive Max to suicide.
Brainwashed and Crazy: Max eventually becomes compelled by the Videodrome tapes to murder his partners at Civic TV in cold blood. When he goes after Bianca O'Blivion, she reprograms him to kill her enemies (the people who programmed Max to become an assassin in the first place) for her.
Brown Note - Videodrome itself. We get to see why, and it's as horrible as it is said to be.
Canada Does Not Exist: Averted. To the untrained eye there is nothing distinctively Canadian about the locations, and Nicki Brand is played by the openly American Debbie Harry, but:
Nicki Brand's radio show is stated to come from Toronto.
The final scene takes place on a boat bearing a sign saying Condemned By The Toronto Harbour Authority.
One character also has to point out that Pittsburgh is a U.S. city.
Loveable Rogue: Max Renn may be a snarky dealer of smut, but he is charismatic and friendly and never really did anything wrong until Videodrome screws him up.
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane - Yes, they're visions, but... is that really Nicki talking to him beyond the grave, or just his own psychosis?
Mega Corp.: The Spectacular Optical corporation is revealed to have stolen Videodrome (a mysterious force that can give people the power to warp reality) from its creator, Dr. Brian O'Blivion, and assassinated him with it. While O'Blivion wanted to use Videodrome to help the human race, Spectacular Optical uses it to further their own evil goals of world domination. According to its CEO Barry Covex, the company makes everything from cheap glasses to missiles.
Names To Run Away From: Nouns: Brian O'Blivion and his daughter Bianca O'Blivion. While their alligment is very hard to make out due to the unreality of the movie and Brian is a resonant phantom living in the television world, they are engaging in a counter war against the brain-destroying, people-corrupting Videodrome syndicate by reprogramming the "video word made flesh" (an outside innocent, sleazy TV executive Max Renn) for their own sinister purposes.
Nothing Is Scarier - The orange letters of the title card of the titular TV Show, with nothing but the buzz of your cathode ray-tube to accompany it.
Organic Technology: The television sets start to breathe and pulsate, the video cassettes are eventually made out of living flesh, and Max's hand morphs together with his gun.
Phallic Weapon: When Max grows a cancerous vagina on his abdomen, he uses his gun to have sex with it.
Place Worse Than Death: Pittsburgh is treated this way throughout the film. It is where the videodrome signal comes from, and "See you in Pittsburgh" is later used in lieu of the regular "See You in Hell".
CIVIC-TV is a play on City-TV (a Toronto-area station that played porn movies at the time when Videodrome was madenote It still does, only now it's not just a "Toronto-area" Station, but has a City-Tv Vancouver, Montreal, etc.).
The Tape Knew You Would Say That - TV prophet Brian O'Blivion communicates solely through videotaped messages—even in order to participate in an interview early on in the film.
The Television Talks Back: Nicki disappears when going to check out Videodrome, then appears to Max in his TV, and asks for a kiss. He does...and then things start to get really bizarre. Brian O'Blivion also starts to directly converse with Max in this way later on.
Through the Eyes of Madness - The film is shown from the perspective of the protagonist, Max Renn, who has certainly gone batty at some point. Everything up to the first Brian O'Blivion tape he watches can be assumed to be real as he's still only slightly affected by the signal. But when Bianca tells him that his life could become "100% video hallucination", suddenly it looks more and more likely that the bizarre plot twists (i.e. an evil conspiracy operating out of an opticians', his best friend being part of this conspiracy, murdering people with flesh/metal hybrid weaponry) is all part of a massive psychotic break triggered by the Videodrome signal. Maybe.
23: The first scene is Max's secretary telling him his schedule for the day, Wednesday the twenty-third. On video tape.