Videodrome is an odd watch, that's for sure. It's a biting satire about the desensitization of the video age and uses body horror as a metaphor for video and TV literally taking over our lives. But it's also difficult to follow and highly anticlimactic, and it if it wasn't for David Cronenberg's mind-bending makeup effects, I think my score for this film might've been lower. James Woods's performance is stellar, but no other characters really stand out. Frankly, I expected far more from this 80's cult favorite.
So far as I can tell, Videodrome is about a sleazy TV exec who is trying to find the next big shocking thing he can put on his controversial TV channel. When he discovers a pirated torture porn show called Videodrome, he begins to hallucinate violent, gruesome things as his mind unravels. As the film progresses, we come to realize that Videodrome is actually a coded signal from a government project to create assassins by brainwashing people who survive the initial viewing. Huh? That's where the film lost me. It's really the effects that save the film, and those have always been Cronenberg's bread and butter anyway. The vaginal slit that opens up on Max's (Woods) stomach, the explosion of tumors that decimates the bad guy, and the fleshy TV screen are just a few that stand out as some of the weirdest, most unsettling images I've seen in a horror movie.
Videodrome isn't perfect, but it's far from terrible. It's just a bit confusing and falls away from the satirical element in the second half, almost going full Manchurian Candidate. For horror aficionados, it's a must-see for its cult status alone. For casual film fans, this might be one to alive. Death to Videodrome. Long live the new flesh.