In this David Cronenberg film, a strange television show called Videodrome, which shows uncut, unedited films of seemingly real human torture and murder, is intercepted by cable-television programmer Max Renn (James Woods) who specializes… More In this David Cronenberg film, a strange television show called Videodrome, which shows uncut, unedited films of seemingly real human torture and murder, is intercepted by cable-television programmer Max Renn (James Woods) who specializes in soft-core pornography. Fascinated, and hoping to duplicate some of what he sees for his own audience, Max searches to discover the show's producer and place of origin. He also begins an intense sadomasochistic affair with the mysterious Nicki (Debbie Harry).The scene where Max meets Nicki on a television talk show and seduces her -- to the great consternation of the hostess -- is hilarious. Along with a more than academic interest in shape objects and Swiss army knives, Nicki is also drawn to Videodrome, but wants to be a participant rather than part of the audience. When she disappears, Max becomes obsessed by his search, which leads him to a the daughter of a mysterious media guru, Bianca O'Blivion (Sonja Smits). What he discovers both frightens and fascinates Max, leading to the unusual and ambiguous conclusion. James Woods brings great intensity and an off-beat sensuality to the character of Max. Rock star Debbie Harry is sexy and intriguing as the very kinky Nicki. The film is marred by some thematic inconsistencies and an unsatisfactory conclusion, but Cronenberg, who wrote and directed, creates a dark and mesmerizingly atmospheric vision.
Consensus: Visually audacious, disorienting, and just plain weird, Videodrome's musings on technology, entertainment, and politics still feel fresh today.