on 18 December 2011
Universal are releasing the censored R-rated version onto blu-ray in the UK. It's missing 80 seconds of gore.
The picture is the same transfer as used on Universal's Italian blu-ray and suffers from excessive edge enhancement. The only extra is a trailer.
Get the Criterion blu-ray, it's uncut and loaded with extras.
UPDATE: Although the Criterion disc is region A locked, there is a region B release out in Germany with the same extras and transfer. So avoid the UK release.
on 16 January 2012
Videodrome is Cronenberg at his best and if you are reading this review you probably know that.
That's why I'll concentrate on the disc itself.
As another reviewer mentioned, it is the cut version of the film. While it is unfortunate, I wouldn't say anything vital was cut.
Most of the time, it's a couple of seconds of gore missing (sometimes even less). Don't get me wrong, I hate tinkering with the director's original vision but all in all,
I wouldn't say the film's impact has been diminished.
As for the A/V quality, it's a mixed bag. While it's nowhere near reference quality,
it's not as bad as some other catalogue titles from Universal.
Edge Enhancement is clearly visible but not to the point where it's too distracting.
Similarly, some DNR and sharpening have obviously been used, but the image still looks quite natural.
As many of you know, the film has also been released by Criterion but unless you have a multi-region player
and are willing to import the disc, this is the only way to watch Videodrome in High Definition.
It's also worth noting that the Criterion release seems to have been quite substantially cropped,
so it's also less than perfect.
Unfortunately, there are no extras on the disc to speak of.
Available audio tracks: English, French, Italian, Latin American Spanish, Russian (VO)
Available subtitles: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Korean, Latin American Spanish, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Traditional Mandarin
on 21 August 2002
Phenomenal entry from Cronenberg, which is as shocking and subversive today as when first released. The story's basic premise is that the world is slowly being controlled by television and video, with a specialist group sending out a dangerous broadcast which causes a tumour in its viewers. The tumour triggers vicious hallucinogenic effects and leads to the group being able to control these unfortunates to do their deadly deeds.
The commentary on the potential effects of video/violence and pornography is fascinating and in typical Cronenberg style, it all ends badly with much gore and violence. Extremely thought provoking and perhaps even more relevant today, in light of the power of the media and TV to influence our perception of different events.
Watch and be propelled into a dangerous underground world of S&M, violence and a quest for the truth that ends in tragedy.
Superb and obviously worth the modest price. Just be careful - 'it bites'!!
on 21 December 2004
Cronenberg has achieved a huge cult following with his take on horror and science fiction. It's sophisticated, often controversial, and always incisive. He dissects contemporary society by looking into the day after tomorrow and giving a caustic spin to the commonplace - the motor car, the condominium, the television.
In 'Videodrome', James Woods plays a Canadian television entrepreneur, a man who provides material - usually suspect, often porn - for cable TV. In the course of his seedy research he finds a pirate broadcast of a strange, compelling programme. The torture and masochism he glimpses as the programme hisses and breaks up is ... well, it looks real. Or is it just incredibly well made, with the interference and fluctuating picture quality just an example of good engineering and clever directing, simulating clandestine status to give the show a bit of edge?
Woods teams up with a radio broadcaster (Debbie Harry) to investigate. They tune in, turn on, and drop into an underworld of research and exploration which exposes human vulnerability to the influence of television. Maybe it doesn't just have a numbing effect on the brain ... maybe it can take over your body ... maybe the broadcast can become flesh as TV and reality merge? This is television as an acid trip.
An engrossing movie, playing off its own ironic take on the ability of film and television to confuse, mislead, misinform, or corrupt. Cronenberg speculates on the impact of television by taking you into the surreal, asking you to suspend your disbelief ... then question your belief.
Woods' character is sated by all the garbage he's seen. Nothing surprises him any more. He needs something weird, something even more shocking than porn. Do people really need to be shocked? Given the mind-numbing diet of reality TV to which we've been subjected in recent years, maybe Cronenberg is wrong. Television doesn't have to push us to the extreme ... it can destroy our minds with monotony instead.
But 'Videodrome' takes us beyond the unreal. Consider how much of your understanding and experience of the world is based on television news. The truth, and its corruption, is out there, and can come at you through your television screen. The moment we accept reality as what the television portrays, that's the moment it takes over our bodies as well as our minds.
A disturbing, thought-provoking, hugely entertaining film. Like many of Cronenberg's movies, though, you'll either love it or hate it. He's a man who doesn't seem to allow much room for a middle way. If you enjoy the unusual, if you appreciate the surreal, if you like to be challenged and explore irony, this may be a movie you'll love.
on 26 May 2014
Videodrome is a classic sci/fi horror film from David Cronenberg which stars James Woods in what has to be his best role as a T.V. producer in the not too distant future. Being the successful business man that he is, Max knows that only the most perverted, violent and brutal shows evoke any real interest among viewers. One day he comes across a mysterious show called "Videodrome", which just shows what may or may not be snuff films all day. The problem is, the more he watches it, the more he likes it, and the more he has to watch more of it. Same thing goes for his kinky girlfriend (Debbie Harry). Max tries to track down the station, only to find a lot of secrecy and mystery around it, not to mention a cult leader-like figure at its head. The odd things start when his girlfriend disappears after trying to audition for Videodrome. Then Max sees her on Videodrome, being tortured, and speaking at him in his living room, as if she could observe what he's doing at the moment. Not only that, but Max begins to hallucinate big time, seeing for example a rubber like humanoid trying to crawl out of his TV screen and into the real world. It soon becomes clear that "Videodrome" is much more than just a T.V. show, something a lot more dangerous. Before he knows it Max is caught up in the whole thing and the line between reality and hallucination is blurring.
Woods turns in another great performance, and the cast is appropriate. Cronenberg paces this very well, and can make the film scary without having to have someone suddenly jump out with a knife. Also notable are the effects by a rising Rick Baker and the score by Howard Shore. Plus, this is one of the first films to explore the possibility of TV influence on the masses, only that taking it to another more demented level. The story's highly original and is filled with bizarre imagery, looking at it from today's standpoint it's unsettling how prophetic the movie was. We've already reached a level where we're able to look at the sickest kind of crimes and abuse through the internet. That part of the movie is no longer utopia, it's already become real. Videodrome remains some many years later a visceral movie-viewing experience, a film that many will pass off as just your typical Cronenberg fare. It's a lot more: it's like a weird, definitive statement on the things that are most of concern to Cronenberg, at least in the bulk of his originally written work. How does one make the distinction between what's imagined or thought and what is right there whipped on the flesh? It's thought at one point in Videodrome that Max has a brain tumor. Sounds like an explanation, but after a few minutes it changes from being a plot gimmick to a sad fate. Long live the new flesh? What about the dying flesh? It's an extraordinary film.
The Critereon Blu-ray edition is the best way to watch the film in it's complete and uncut glory, it is a bit expensive but I thought it was worth it. The disc is also region A so unless you have an American or region free blu-ray player, it's probably not going to work so I suggest you buy one. Presented in 1.85:1 high-definition widescreen using the AVC codec, Videodrome has to look as it did when it first came out in theaters, meaning Criterion's done an excellent job with the disc. Some of the work done to age/degrade the video sources in the movie looks excellent, even recent if one didn't know the film was made three decades ago. The PCM track accurately replicates the pre-stereo world of the era as best as it possibly can, and does it well. The Fear on Film segment is probably the best feature and is definetely worth checking out, it's a vintage roundtable segment with John Landis, John Carpenter and Cronenberg, all of whom were shooting films for Universal at the time (Landis' An American Werewolf in London, Carpenter's The Thing and Videodrome).
They talk about influences, ordeals in getting the film shot, and butting heads with studios about ratings. Worth watching if you're a fan of any or all of those directors. There were lot's of other features as well, including a making of, forging the new flesh (a kind of retrospective), Effects men an audio interview with Baker and video effects supervisor Michael Lennick. The "Bootleg Video" section includes the complete footage from "Samurai Dreams", the film Max finds in the beginning. There's also the "Transmissions from Videodrome" and test footage of the Helmet Cam, all of which include commentary by a mix of Cronenberg, Irwin or Lennick. The "Effects Visual Essay" (19:17) is an extended stills gallery of sorts and a commentary track. This was just an awesome edition by Criterion that blows any of the previous editions (including the old universal dvd) out of the water. Make sure you check it out, highly recommended.
AMAZON REVIEW NUMBER 100. (But is this a good thing?)
Ah, VIDEODROME: one of a very small number of films to have given me nightmares.
MAX RENN, a sleazy cable-TV programmer begins to see his life and the future of media spin out of control after stumbling upon the broadcast signal of a seemingly plotless tv show called VIDEODROME which features extreme violence and torture. To his horror, he discovers that the signal causes damage to the viewer's brain through terrifying hallucinations, and that he himself is now a 'carrier' of it's malicious content.
Made in 1983 and Thank God I didn't see this on my own.
DAVID CRONENBERG is a director who knows how to work his way under the skin - then, when you're expecting the worst, he'll go one better and rip it inside out with intense bursts of visceral imagery, often utterly repulsive...yet strangely fascinating. Directorial mind games of the highest order and very, very effective. SHIVERS, THE BROOD and SCANNERS all dealt with similar themes - in essence, a fear of the flesh, of uncontrollable bodily transformation - but this is the first film of his to seriously tap into that deeply subconscious anxiety we all have of internal corruption, of something dark and malevolent eating away at our, for want of a better word, soul.
VIDEODROME: the public face of a crypto-government conspiracy to morally and ideologically "purge" North America by giving fatal brain tumours to "lowlifes" fixated on extreme forms of sex and violence...
JAMES WOODS is skin-crawlingly excellent as Max Renn, an opportunistic CEO always on the lookout for material that will push the envelope - or "break through", as he calls it - in order to reverse the fortunes (and ratings) of his tired cable tv station. But VIDEODROME is a freakshow like no other, and truly interactive in the most gut-churning way, literally sucking him into a world where the only path available is the one leading to self-destruction.
So this is as close as it gets to a morality tale of one man's descent into hell, but it's also an outrageously twisted glimpse at what might happen when broadcast media becomes completely unregulated - pretty far-sighted in 1983. Twenty-seven years further down the line, you'll still need a Kevlar-coated stomach to fully appreciate the film's 'message', but it's worth it.
SCENE GUARANTEED TO INDUCE NAUSEA
HARLAN removing his arm from the gaping orifice (it is not a wound) in Renn's torso to find an old German stick grenade (ticking) attached to the bloody stump.
An unforgettable experience from a director on the verge of mainstream greatness.
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
As you've probably gathered most of the reviews are for the 'DVD' version of David Cronenberg’s TV-swallowing horror shocker “Videodrome”. And the BLU RAY has long been available in the States on Criterion and several other territories. The US Criterion release in particular has received much praise being the ‘full’ version of the film with a half decent print and loads of cool extras (typically stunning job done by them). But that’s where the good news ends for British and European film fans…
Unfortunately the sought-after American Criterion release is REGION-A LOCKED - although it doesn't say so on Amazon. So it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK BLU RAY players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't). Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front – that won’t help.
The UK and Europe issues are REGION B - so that will play the movie on UK machines – but feature the slightly truncated version of the film (a couple of minutes of nastiness chopped out) and there are reports of ‘print’ problems.
As ever when it comes to something controversial – fans are given the short straw. So check your player’s region coding acceptability if you want the pricier Criterion release (must have REGION A playback capability)…or opt for the UK and foreign territories BLU RAYS that weigh in at a far healthier price but offer what some feel is less…
on 25 March 2012
Videodrome is one of my favourite movies of all time and one I was looking forward to seeing on blu-ray. The film itself is obviously 5 star (and then some), a deliciously barmy tale of body horror and arguably Cronenberg's first classic.
But the disc itself is lacking. This is the cut version and comes with no extras whatsoever. The cuts are minimal and shouldn't detract from the enjoyment of the film but it's still inexcusable. Sadly I don't think there's much chance of a better version in the near future so unless you have a multi region player this is still worth the lowly asking price.
on 16 August 2014
Another Cronenberg classic ! All his favourite preoccupations are here - media, the body, the 'new flesh' etc etc...& James Woods...Can't go wrong, really can you ? Some of the effects are a bit hokey & dated in these days of CGI, (the video tape in the stomach, the gun growing into the arm etc !) Still, it's fun to see what was considered the height of hi-tech back in the '80's...
"What format would you prefer, Mr Ren ? VHS or Betamax ?". Tee-hee !!!
David Cronenburg’s unique 1983 SF horror movie is an intelligent, compelling and disturbing exploration of the improbable given form with its audaciously stunning visual effects. It addresses themes which continue to resonate as James Wood’s Cable-TV executive seeks more extreme programmes to broadcast in his quest to increase his company’s ratings. When he encounters a pirated show called Videodrome he is intrigued and decides to investigate its origins, with unexpected and mind-bending results. The director presents a surreal concoction of reality and hallucination, of technology and control, of entertainment and acceptability while beyond the provocative images of sadism and torture he introduces some serious political issues. Despite a narrative which is at times somewhat disjointed this movie is undoubtedly an uncompromising and visionary bizarre imaginative projection of a possible future. In my opinion Videodrome most definitely deserves its cult status as a ground-breaking provocative film which is more ‘serious’ than its grotesque images would at first suggest.