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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 30, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 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 30, 2011
David Cronenberg's "Videodrome" (1983) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Studios-UK. Unfortunately, there are no supplemental features to be found on this Blu-ray disc. In English, with optional English SDH, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish (continental), Spanish (Latin America), Portuguese (Brazil), Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (continental), Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Traditional Mandarin subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
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 VC-1 and granted a 1080p transfer, David Cronenberg's Videodrome arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Studios-UK.
The high-definition transfer is very problematic. It has been struck from a dated master which was most likely prepared for the DVD release of Videodrome. There are numerous traces of moderate to strong sharpening and denoising that consistently give the film a thick electronic look which is more appropriate for upscaled content rather than true high-definition content. (I have attempted to match a couple of different screenshots for you to compare with the corresponding screenshots from our review of the Criterion release, but please keep in mind that we do not use time codes so there could be minor discrepancies). Unsurprisingly, detail and clarity consistently suffer, while contrast levels fluctuate. Color reproduction is also problematic. The reds and blues, in particular, look very weak and unstable. Perhaps the biggest issue with the high-definition transfer, however, is the framing. When comparing it to Criterion's high-definition transfer, there are obvious discrepancies that are easy to notice during close-ups as well as during larger panoramic shots (for example, compare screenshot #2 with screenshot #3 from our review of the Criterion release). Considering the fact that Criterion's high-definition transfer was supervised by cinematographer Mark Irwin and approved by director David Cronenberg, I believe there is no need to speculate which high-definition transfer has been compromised. Lastly, I must mention that the UK release also appears to have been censored (the Criterion release is a little over a minute and a half longer). (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location. For the record, there is no problematic PAL or 1080/50i content preceding the disc's main menu. Please note that the main menu can be set in one of the following languages: Japanese, English, French, Italian, Spanish (continental), Spanish (Latin America), Russian, Portuguese (Brazil), Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (continental), Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Traditional Mandarin).
Videodrome Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are six audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, French DTS 2.0, Italian DTS 2.0, Spanish DTS 2.0, Russian DTS 2.0, and Spanish (Latin America) DTS 2.0. For the record, Universal Studios-UK have provided optional English SDH, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish (continental), Spanish (Latin America), Portuguese (Brazil), Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (continental), Swedish, Thai, Turkish, and Traditional Mandarin subtitles for the main feature.
Unlike the video, the audio is very convincing. The English track opens up the film quite well in many of the of the film's most memorable sequences, such as the one where Max places the electric device on his head and enters Videodrome. Howard Shore's extremely moody soundtrack also benefits greatly from the loseless treatment (the electronica themes in particular). Finally, the dialog is consistently crisp, stable, and easy to follow.
Videodrome Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, there are no supplemental feature on this Blu-ray disc.
Videodrome Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you are a fan of David Cronenberg's Videodrome, you should seek to obtain Criterion's Blu-ray release. Not only are the supplemental features on it outstanding, but the film also looks vastly superior when compared to this new release produced by Universal Studios-UK. Keep in mind, however, that you must be able to play Region-A "locked" discs to take advantage of Criterion's release.
Videodrome: Other Editions
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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 ...
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