Infobox Film
name = Videodrome

caption =
director = David Cronenberg
producer = Claude Héroux
writer = David Cronenberg
starring = James Woods
Deborah Harry
Sonja Smits
Peter Dvorsky
Leslie Carlson
Jack Creley
music = Howard Shore
cinematography = Mark Irwin
editing = Ronald Sanders
distributor = Universal Pictures
released = February 4, 1983 (USA)
runtime = 89 min.
country = CAN
language = English
budget = $5,952,000 (estimated)
gross = $2,120,439 (USA)
preceded_by =
followed_by =
amg_id = 1:52699
imdb_id = 0086541

"Videodrome" is a 1983 sci-fi horror Canadian film directed by David Cronenberg.


"Civic TV, the One You Take to Bed With you..."

"Videodrome" begins with the daily routine of Max Renn (James Woods), president of CIVIC-TV (Channel 83, Cable 12), a sleazy Toronto UHF television station, on his endless search for new material with which to titillate his viewers. CIVIC-TV's pirate satellite dish (run by technogeek CIVIC-TV worker Harlan, (Peter Dvorsky)) receives transmissions of the sadistic, plotless program "Videodrome" that depicts only torture and murder in a bright orange room: snuff TV. He encounters Professor Brian O'Blivion (Jack Creley) (a Marshall McLuhan parody) on a chat show, who communicates only through video recordings of himself. Renn asks Harlan to learn more about "Videodrome", and is told that O'Blivion is behind the program. He visits the "Cathode Ray Mission", run by O'Blivion, and meets Bianca O'Blivion, the Professor's daughter, who tells him that her father died eleven months earlier.

Later, Max receives a videotape, sent to him by O'Blivion, warning of a fascist socio-political force called "Videodrome". Afterwards, Max slowly grasps that he has begun hallucinating graphically violent and metamorphic acts showing the malleability of the human flesh. Bianca O'Blivion tells him the hallucinations are the intended side-effect of the Videodrome signal, which is maliciously provoking brain tumours in the viewer. Alone later, Renn sees his belly metamorphose and develop a wound. His lover, radio psychotherapist Nicki Brand (Debbie Harry), a sado-masochist prone to self-mutilation, appears in his recurring visions of the Videodrome room. She disappeared after going to search for the whereabouts of the Videodrome locale in order to audition for a role on the show (it is later revealed that like all of Videodrome's previous "contestants", she was killed).

The producer of "Videodrome", businessman Barry Convex (Leslie Carlson), of the Spectacular Optical corporation calls on Max Renn. He asks Max to put on and wear a helmet that records one of his hallucinations. As the story is told entirely from Renn's point of view, reality and hallucination merge, becoming indistinguishable. Later, Convex and his partner Harlan (who, as it is revealed, has betrayed Renn) tell Renn that, by inserting the Videodrome signal in violent television programs, they are morally purifying North America so that it can survive the tough times ahead. Renn is coerced to accept amporhous meaty "video tapes" via his abdominal wound. Under the influence of their violent programming, Max secrets a gun within his abdominal video cassette slot, later discovering that it too meatily metamorphoses with his hand. He goes to the CIVIC-TV offices and shoots his business partners. The intended next target, Bianca O'Blivion, then reprograms him to betray and destroy Spectacular Optical. When Harlan attempts inserting another tumourous video cassette into him, Max metamorphically fuses a grenade to Harlan's hand, which explodes and kills him. He then shoots and kills Barry Convex during a trade show, causing Videodrome tumors to erupt from his head and torso, and shouts "Death to Videodrome! Long live the New Flesh!" to the audience of businessmen and women.

Afterwards, Renn takes refuge on a derelict boat in an abandoned harbor, where Nicki appears to him on television. She tells him he has weakened Videodrome, but that in order to completely defeat them, he has to leave the old flesh. He then sees a TV set showing an image of himself pointing his handgun to his head, saying "Long live the New Flesh". His on-screen image shoots itself and the TV set explodes, spraying human intestines on the deck. Max Renn then imitates and repeats the action he has just watched, squeezes the trigger; the screen goes blank.


The film scored fourth as Bravo TV's "30 Even Scarier Movie Moments". It was also selected as one of the "23 Weirdest Films of All Time" by Total Film. [ [ Total Film's 23 Weirdest Films of All Time on Lists of Bests ] ]

Videodrome books

At the time of its theatrical release, "Videodrome" was supplemented in the marketplace by a novelization. Though credited to "Jack Martin," the novel was in fact the work of acclaimed horror novelist Dennis Etchison. The story told by the novel differs in some interesting ways from the final cut of the movie, as Etchison's lead time required him to base his work on an earlier draft of the screenplay.

"Videodrome" is also the title of a detailed book-length study of the film, from pre-production to its echoes throughout pop culture a quarter century after its release, written by the novelist and film critic Tim Lucas. The book contains Lucas's eyewitness report of the filming, essays and criticism, and on-set interviews with David Cronenberg, James Woods, Deborah Harry, Rick Baker, Sonja Smits, Les Carlson and many other crew members. It was published by Millipede Press in September 2008.

In popular culture

* The film is referenced in the Dirtfoot episode of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," in which a defensive Master Shake claims to have seen "Videodrome" and therefore understands the difference between "...the TV and the flesh-world we live in, like from "Videodrome", right?! You seen it?" This is after claiming he can "magic" women's clothes off upon seeing a detective do it on a late-night television show. On the subject of women, Shake crudely continues, "That Blondie. Let me tell you where she "isn't" a blonde!" a reference to Deborah Harry appearing nude in the film.

* Another reference is made in the Family Guy episode Peter's Got Woods. James Woods makes Peter watch "Videodrome" with him, and when Peter asks "Is there any nudity in this film?" James responds, "Yes, I get naked."


Videodrome's cult film status has made it a popular source for sampling and homage in Electro-industrial, EBM, and heavy metal music. It ranks tenth on the Top 1319 Sample Sources list [] and has been sampled in at least 32 individual songs.
* Apoptygma Berzerk used "It was only 26 hours ago in the building you see behind me..." from "Videodrome" on the track "Our Souls Will Remain" from their 1992 single "The 2nd Manifesto".
* EMF used "Long live the new flesh..." in studio and live versions of "Children" from its debut LP, "Schubert Dip".
* Skinny Puppy used "You'll forgive me if I don't stay around to watch... . I just can't cope with freaky stuff" as an ominous intro for "Draining Faces", on 1987's "Cleanse Fold and Manipulate" The song has numerous samples from this movie mixed in with the music such as, whipping, moaning, and screaming.
* Cyberaktif (a Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly side project) used "See you in Pittsburgh" at the end of the song "Face to Face" off the 1990 album "Tenebrae Vision".
* Techno band Messiah samples several lines from the film in their 1991 song "You're Going Insane".
* The most prominently quoted line, "Long live the new flesh," was used as the chorus for the Wiseblood song "0-0 (Where Evils Dwells)", later covered by Fear Factory.
* The metal group Strapping Young Lad has a song titled "All Hail the New Flesh" on their album "City", released in 1997.
* The Belgian EBM band Front 242 used a number of samples from "Videodrome" in their album "Official Version". For example, Barry Convex's line at the SpecOps trade show, "You know me, and I sure know you. Every one of you!" is sampled as the intro to "Masterhit", and the word "television", off O'Blivion's first speech in the movie, can be heard at the end of "Television Station".
* The band Big Audio Dynamite used Barry Convex's line, "I hope you realize you're playing with dynamite", as an intro to their song "C'mon Every Beatbox", referring to the movie as well as their own band name.
*The industrial rock band Hardwire uses a piece from Professor O'Blivion's interview speech as the intro to their song "Reformat", from the "Master-Control" album. The lyrics of the song itself also reflect upon the film.
* The song "Sexual Orientation", along with at least three Emergency Broadcast Network productions, consists mostly of sound effects and quotes from the movie.
*The industrial rock group My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult used a direct sample of "Death to the Videodrome" followed up by a sung "Long live the new flesh" in their song "After the Flesh", which was featured in the movie "The Crow".
* The experimental electronic musician Jack Dangers has used numerous samples from the film, namely on the Meat Beat Manifesto album "Satyricon".
* The 1996 Acid Techno track entitled "Reality" by Andrei Morant samples the character Brian O'Blivion's philosophical riddle: "There is nothing real outside our perception of reality, is there?"
* The Post-punk band Flesh For Lulu named one of their albums "Long Live the New Flesh".
* On the debut album "Appetizer" (1994) from the Swedish hard rock band Freak Kitchen there are two songs inspired by the movie, "See You in Pittsburgh" and "The New Part".
* The metal band Videodrone takes its name from the film.
* Baltimore-based noise rock band the New Flesh takes their name from the film.
* The song "Niky Braun" by French power electronics project Propergol mostly consists of samples from "Videodrome".
* In Sundsvall, Sweden there is a film store named . It specializes in alternative film and rare videotapes. Collectors can go there to find films no longer available elsewhere (including out of print x-rated features).
* Videodrome is also the name of an independent video rental store in Atlanta, Georgia specializing in many hard to find foreign, cult, and anime features.
* Videodromo is an independent video rental store in Mexico City, Mexico.
* Japanese film director Hideo Nakata has said that the scene of the malicious ghost Sadako coming out of the television in the film "Ringu" was inspired by "Videodrome".
* Long Island post-hardcore band Disarming Arctica wrote their song "Motives" completely around the concept of the film "Videodrome". References are made in the lyrics including "Long live the new flesh" and "First it controlled her mind, then it destroyed her body".
* The music to the first level of "Tempest 2000" used the line "Television is the retina of the mind's eye".
* Industrial metal band Whorgasm, on their album "Smothered", samples the lines "It's just torture and murder", "No plot, no characters; just very, very realistic", and "I think it's what's next".
* Electronic composer Esther Venrooy used bits of dialogue from Max's wake-up call in the beginning of the film in the track "pitch :: pine" on her album "Hout".
* Reanimator samples various dialogue from the movie in two of his songs ("Socially Positive (Man)" and "Socially Responsible (Reprise)") on his album "Music to Slit Wrists By".
* "Videodrome Hands" is a painting by artist Mike Retter, who uses the "look" of video and television in his paintings.
* Dutch EBM band Grendel's 2007 release "Harsh Generation" contains a track named "New Flesh" which features samples from the film.
* The Industrial group Nine Inch Nails featured a song entitled "The New Flesh" on the vinyl edition of the 1999 album "The Fragile".
* HEAVY WATER FACTORY begins their song "Better Than Dead" with the quote "You'll have to learn to live in a very strange new world" and repeats it various times throughout the song.
* The fake video ad, supporting the promotion of the track "Zombie Slut Fuck Doll" by the synthpunk project shemale ZERO is also inspired by the movie, as regards the visual depiction - it is a matter of the pixelate effect.


*David Tsubouchi appears in the film credited as a "Japanese Businessman". In 1995, he would be elected as an Ontario Member of Provincial Parliament. In 1996, he became a Minister with jurisdiction over the Ontario Film Review Board, which handles censorship and film ratings.
* Civic TV refers to a real Canadian television station, CityTV, notorious for broadcasting soft-core pornography among its programming.
* Betamax videotape cassettes were used because VHS videotape cassettes were too large to fit the faux abdominal wound.Fact|date=January 2008
* Videodrome pioneered the flicker-eliminating technology used to film a television screen's images; before, film images were superimposed onto blank television screens.
* The pornographic video Samurai Dreams, of which only five seconds are seen in the film story, was made specifically for the film. The five-minute film is in The Criterion Collection DVD edition of "Videodrome".
* The name "Max Renn" is based on the motorcycle brand Renmax; "Nicki Brand" is a pun on "nick" (to cut) and "brand" (to burn), describing her self-inflicted sexual wounds; "Barry Convex" refers to a convex lens; "Brian O'Blivion" refers to brain oblivion.
* The concept of brain tumor-inducing television programs is an urban legend dating to the 1940s; people believed television signals caused brain tumors. Canadian rumours of mind-controlling television from right-wing extremists in the United States also inspired the story.
* Marshall McLuhan, the communications theorist on whom Prof. Brian O'Blivion is based, had a benign brain tumor. Author Philip Marchand, in his McLuhan biography, "The Medium and the Messenger" (1989), states it was a meningioma. He quotes a McLuhan associate describing the tumor: "as big as a tennis ball" that caused McLuhan fainting and seizures. Doctors warned that blindness and insanity would result if the tumor went unremoved. Despite initial resistance, McLuhan underwent seventeen hours of brain surgery in November of 1967; per surgeon Dr Lester Mount, it was the longest neurosurgical operation in American medicine to that time.Fact|date=April 2007
* Barry Convex's exploding body innards were a plateful of General Tso's Chicken.
* In the "Family Guy" episode "Peter's Got Woods", James Woods keeps insisting on showing "Videodrome" to Peter Griffin; when he asks about the nudity in the film, Woods proudly notes that he shows his buttocks, while not mentioning Deborah Harry's nudity.
* Alternate titles were "Network of Blood" and "Zonekiller".

See also

* Numbers station
* Motif of harmful sensation


External links

* " [ Videodrome] " at Rotten Tomatoes
* [ Criterion Collection essay by Carrie Rickey]
* [ Criterion Collection essay by Tim Lucas]

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