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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 struggles to unearth 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.
For more about Videodrome and the Videodrome Blu-ray release, see Videodrome Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on December 8, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: James Woods (I), Deborah Harry, Sonja Smits, Peter Dvorsky, Leslie Carlson, Jack Creley
Director: David Cronenberg
» See full cast & crew
Videodrome Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 8, 2010
David Cronenberg's "Videodrome" (1983) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include two audio commentaries, one with David Cronenberg and Mark Irwin, and another with James Woods and Deborah Harry; "Camera", a short film which David Cronenberg directed in 2000; roundtable discussion with David Cronenberg, John Landis, and John Carpenter; various featurettes; promotional materials; and more. The disc also arrives with a 38-page illustrated booklet. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked.
James Woods is Max Renn, a cocky, fast-talking man in charge with a small Toronto-based television station looking for unique content to boost its ratings. One day, he stumbles across Videodrome, a brutal pornographic broadcast, which Harlan (Peter Dvorsky, Mesmer), one of Max's best men, has recorded while playing around with the station's pirate satellite dish. Impressed with the raw visuals, Max decides to find out more about Videodrome.
While researching Videodrome, Max meets Nicki Brand (Deborah Harry, Hairspray), a beautiful psychiatrist who likes sex as much as she likes pain. Before Max beds Nikki, he shows her footage from Videodrome, which proves to be exactly the type of show she has been dreaming about. Nikki decides to go to Pittsburgh, where Videodrome apparently is based at, while Max decides to see Professor Brian O'Blivion (Jack Creley, All in Good Taste), a mysterious character who apparently knows everything there is to know about the show.
Max meets Bianca (Sonja Smits, That's My Baby!), Professor O'Blivion's daughter and personal assistant, who gives him a videotape containing an important message. After he views it, Max begins hallucinating - first his body gets a giant vagina in which one could insert various objects, including videotapes, then he starts seeing dead people, and finally he enters Videodrome where Nikki has been patiently waiting for him. While trying to figure out what is real and what is not, Max loses his mind.
Most critics who have written about David Cronenberg's Videodrome argue that it is a horror film with a prophetic message about the destructive power of television. To a certain extent, I agree with them. A lot of what Cronenberg predicted in Videodrome has come true - by merging with the Internet, television is increasingly affecting the way we live our lives; television is easily transforming lies into truths, which is why each year billions of dollars are spent on political advertising; television is brainwashing our minds, which is why various religious groups pay big money for prime-time slots.
What critics rarely mention in their articles, however, is the fact that Videodrome is above all a film about the power of philosophy - the ideas that give meaning to the torture and pornography seen in it, the environment that has nurtured them, the culture that breeds their consumers. What terrifies in Videodrome are not the various graphic scenes, or Max's colorful hallucinations, but the logic that supports their existence.
There is a common theme amongst great horror films - they all balance well the reasonable with the unreasonable. When we watch a great horror film, we are terrified because there is a possibility that everything that happens in it could be real. Videodrome is one such film - a lot of the images in it are incredibly disturbing and unsettling but far from unrealistic; even Max's hallucinations are not completely devoid of objectivity.
The cast is excellent. Woods is very convincing as the cocky businessman who slowly but surely evolves into a violent, paranoid loner. Harry, the famous voice of new wave and punk legends Blondie, looks incredibly seductive. Creley has a small but very important role. Smits is the only one who occasionally looks a bit stiff in front of the camera.
Note: In 1984, Videodrome won Genie Award for Best Achievement in Direction (David Cronenberg). During the same year, the film also won Best Cinematography in Theatrical Feature Award (Mark Irwin) granted by the Canadian Society of Cinematographers.
Videodrome Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, David Cronenberg's Videodrome arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"Supervised by cinematographer Mark Irwin and approved by director David Cronenberg, this high-definition digital transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm interpositive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using the MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean system, while Digital Vision's DVNR system was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction."
Telecine supervisor: Maria Palazzola.
Telecine colorist: Gregg Garvin/Modern Videofilm, Los Angeles."
This is a good but slightly inconsistent high-definition transfer. Generally speaking, fine object detail is pleasing and clarity satisfying. The majority of the close-ups look very good - there is depth and good detail that is definitely missing on Criterion's SDVD release of Videodrome. Contrast levels are also improved. This being said, mild edge-enhancement and some light halo effects are occasionally easy to spot. Some small noise corrections have been applied as well. Regardless, the fine grain has been retained, and the overwhelming majority of Videodrome does have a satisfying organic look. Lastly, there are no serious stability issues. I also did not see any large damage marks, scratches, stains, or debris to report in this review. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Videodrome Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The Monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the 35mm magnetic tracks. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated audio workstation."
The English LPCM 1.0 track is solid. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and exceptionally easy to follow. There are no balance issues with Howard Shore's music score either. Understandably, the dynamic amplitude of the English LPCM 1.0 track is rather limited, but the sound has very pleasing depth and fluidity. For the record, I did not detect any audio distortions or dropouts to report in this review.
Videodrome Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Videodrome Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There are certainly no surprises with Criterion's Blu-ray release of David Cronenberg's Videodrome - the film looks very good and the supplemental features included with it are outstanding. I encourage those of you who will be seeing Videodrome for the first time to listen to the entire audio commentary featuring David Cronenberg and Mark Irwin. It is one of the very best in the Criterion Collection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Videodrome Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Videodrome Gets UK Release Date - October 1, 2011
The UK branch of Universal Studios has revealed that it plans to release on Blu-ray David Cronenberg's cult horror thriller Videodrome (1983), starring James Woods, Sonja Smits, and Deborah Harry. The preliminary release date set by the studio is December 26th ...
• Criterion Blu-ray in December: Cronenberg, Del Toro - September 15, 2010
After the bonanza of Blu-ray titles that The Criterion Collection is lavishing upon film enthusiasts in September-November, the studio's December slate looks comparatively spare. Two movies have been announced for Blu-ray release on December 7: Cronos (Guillermo ...
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