The movie Videodrome (1983) is a science-fiction horror film directed by David Cronenberg. The story follows Max Renn, the president of a small cable television station in Toronto, who is always on the lookout for new and provocative programming. He stumbles upon a pirated signal of an ultra-violent torture program called “Videodrome,” which he believes to be the future of television. Max orders the station to begin unlicensed use of the show, and becomes involved with Nicki Brand, a sadomasochistic radio host who becomes sexually aroused by the show. When Nicki goes to audition for the show, she disappears, and Max begins to investigate the truth behind Videodrome. Through Masha, a softcore pornographer, Max learns that the footage is not faked, but is the public “face” of a political movement. Masha further informs him that the enigmatic media theorist Brian O’Blivion knows about Videodrome.
Max tracks down O’Blivion to a homeless shelter where vagrants are encouraged to engage in marathon sessions of television viewing. He discovers that O’Blivion’s daughter Bianca runs the mission, intending to help realize her father’s vision of a world in which television replaces every aspect of everyday life. Later, Max views a videotape in which O’Blivion informs him, before being garrotted by Nicki, that Videodrome is a socio-political battleground in which a war is being fought to control the minds of the people of North America. Max then hallucinates that Nicki speaks directly to him and causes his television to undulate as he kisses the screen.
Max returns to O’Blivion’s homeless shelter, where Bianca tells him that Videodrome carries a broadcast signal that causes the viewer to develop a malignant brain tumor. O’Blivion helped to create it as part of his vision for the future, and viewed the hallucinations as a higher form of reality. When he found out it was to be used for malevolent purposes, he attempted to stop his partners; they used his own invention to kill him. In the year before his death, O’Blivion recorded tens of thousands of videos, which now form the basis of his television appearances.
Max hallucinates placing his handgun in a slit in his abdomen. He is contacted by Videodrome’s producer, Barry Convex of the Spectacular Optical Corporation, an eyeglasses company that acts as a front for an arms company, who uses a device to record Max’s fantasies of whipping Nicki. Max then wakes up to find Masha’s corpse in his bed. He frantically calls Harlan to photograph the body as evidence, but, shortly after he arrives, her body is no longer anywhere to be found.
Max meets Harlan at his studio to see the latest Videodrome broadcast. There, Harlan reveals that he has been working with Convex with the goal of recruiting Max to their cause: to end North America’s cultural decay by giving fatal brain tumors to anyone so obsessed with sex and violence that they would watch Videodrome. Convex then inserts a brainwashing Betamax tape into Max’s torso. Under Convex’s influence, Max murders his colleagues at CIVIC-TV. He later attempts to murder Bianca, who manages to stop him by showing him a videotape of Nicki’s murder on the Videodrome set. Bianca then ‘reprograms’ Max to her father’s cause: “Death to Videodrome. Long live the new flesh.” On her orders, he kills Harlan and Convex.
Wanted for their murders as well as those of his colleagues, Max takes refuge on a derelict boat in the Port Lands. Appearing to him on a television, Nicki tells him he has weakened Videodrome, but in order to completely defeat it, he must ascend to the next level and “leave the old flesh”. The television then shows an image of Max shooting himself in the head, which causes the set to explode. Reenacting what he has just seen on the television, Max utters the words “Long live the new flesh” and shoots himself.
- James Woods as Max Renn
- Deborah Harry as Nicki Brand
- Sonja Smits as Bianca O’Blivion
- Peter Dvorsky as Harlan
- Leslie Carlson as Barry Convex
- Jack Creley as Brian O’Blivion
- The movie Videodrome (1983) was released to mixed reviews but has since become a cult classic and is considered one of Cronenberg’s best films.
- The film’s tagline, “First it controls your mind, then it destroys your body,” is often cited as one of the best movie taglines of all time.
- The film explores themes of media manipulation, violence, and the blurring of reality and fantasy.
- The film’s special effects, which include grotesque mutations and hallucinations, were created using practical effects and prosthetics, rather than computer-generated imagery.
- Deep Focus Review calls Videodrome “a masterpiece of modern horror” and praises its exploration of themes related to media and technology.
- Expanded Essays of National Film Registry Titles describes the film as “a prescient and disturbing document of the 1980s” and notes its influence on later films and television shows.
- Several online reviews praise the film’s unique blend of horror and science-fiction, as well as its thought-provoking themes.
-  https://www.studiobinder.com/blog/best-movie-taglines/
-  https://deepfocusreview.com/definitives/videodrome/
-  https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/videodrome-1983