May 5th, 2009


My First Impulse Was to Shout "WHY WHY WHY WHY WHYYYY?"

In the "Not Really Earthshaking News, but Still Makes Dan Grumpy" department, one of my favorite science fiction terror films may be getting a face lift: Universal Studios to remake Videodrome.

It probably won't happen. In Hollywood, projects come and go about as fast as Columbian Coca Cola employees. For this, I am somewhat gladdened. I mean, remake Videodrome? Why?

Then, of course, my head starts to wonder about what changes might be made. Remakes are not in and of themselves a horrible idea (I look to Carpenter's The Thing, and I look to David Cronenberg's The Fly), however one cannot deny the fact that more often than not they turn out to be lackluster efforts. Will Videodrome fall prey to the slew of less than interesting remake films? I'd say the chance is likely.

What, some might be wondering, is Videodrome? Why it's a film "From The 1980s!" (1983 to be specific) wherein Max Renn -- co-owner of a small, UHF television station, which caters to hardcore violence and softcore sex, in order to compete with big networks -- stumbles upon an underground show. Something called Videodrome. The show (witnessed only brief snippets in grainy, pirated images) apparently has no plot, no characters, only masked figures in blue uniforms and butcher's aprons binding, torturing, and eventually murdering unidentified persons. Is it real, is it fake? And would anyone like to watch it? Well, as Max soon discovers, the thing is indubitably compelling to watch, and for good reason (which I shall not spoil). The movie soon finds itself oriented around Max's growing obsession around this show, as well as its deleterious effects upon Max's mind and body (as well as those around him).

Max Renn: Do you know a show called 'Videodrome'?
Masha: Video what?
Max Renn: Videodrome. Like video circus, video arena. Do you know it?
Masha: No.
Max Renn: It's just torture and murder. No plot, no characters. Very, very realistic. I think it's what's next.
Masha: Then God help us.

This film turns out to be rather prescient, "predicting" (to a degree) the toture-centered films that have inundated horror cinema of late. However, the movie is not content to simply be an exercise in gratuity. It is a thoughtful and disturbing philosophical extrapolation upon Marshall McLuhan-esque media theory ideas. Not bad for a "sci-fi horror flick," huh? For me, Videodrome is an exceptional film, filled with beautiful-yet-grotesque images (including tumorous video cassettes, painful cyberpunk-ish man/machine transmogrification, and an off-the-wall oral encounter with a television screen), plenty of head trippery, and a delightfully creepy score from longtime Cronenberg collaborator Howard Shore (best known these days for his Lord of the Rings scores, I suppose).

On the tech-development side note, I believe Videodrome was also the first film to pioneer flicker-eliminating tech, allowing filmmakers to actually shoot images played on television screens as opposed to superimposing film images on blank screens . . .

Do we really need to update this? Might it be interesting? Early drafts of the script featured bizzaro scenes that were not shot, due to a lack of budget and tech. If a new version of the flick went back to draw in writer/director Cronenberg's early visions, that might be nifty. But the remake, is not involving Cronenberg at all (and he left this sort of terror cinema behind some twenty years ago).

My thought stream has returned to "WHY WHY WHY WHY WHYYYY?"

Harumph, says me. But I am cantankerous.