review for Videodrome on AllMovie

Videodrome (1982)
by Jonathan Crow review

Well before he adapted William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch, David Cronenberg's debt to the beat writer was laid bare with Videodrome, a phantasmagoric journey through fractured psyches and cathode tubes. The film features several of Burroughs's trademarks, including a stream-of-consciousness narrative, a paranoid, conspiratorial tone, and overriding themes of desire and addiction. At the same time, this movie is perhaps the best articulated vision of Cronenberg's ongoing exploration of the edges of technology and human physiology. Detailing the transformation of a sleazy television producer into literal media terrorist, Cronenberg presents a world of pulsating videotapes, televisions that undulate like flesh, and large, vagina-like abdomen slashes that function as a biomechanic VCR. Though the technology, special-effects, and fashion sensibilities all seem dated, Cronenberg's basic questioning of the media through Max Renn's particular psychological affliction seems more relevant today than it did when his film was first released. As technology becomes more advanced, Cronenberg explores not only whether it will affect our sense of reality but also our evolution as a species. His Videodrome is a postmodern masterpiece that unsettles, shocks, and provokes.