David Cronenberg’s mind-bending mixture of Marshall McLuhan-inspired media theory and grotesque bodily transformation remains one of the 1980s’ ultimate outré extremes. When TV producer Max Renn (James Woods) discovers the pirate broadcast of a seemingly real torture show, he becomes drawn into a dangerous and increasingly hallucinatory conspiracy to indoctrinate the North American viewing public.
Renn’s sense of reality becomes further fractured once two rival, shadowy organisations begin reprogramming him by inserting organic ‘videotapes’ into the gaping orifice he’s developed in his abdomen. With its images of sadomasochism and graphic fusion of man and machine, Videodrome may be one of David Cronenberg’s most visually extreme experiences, but it’s also his most influential and intelligent. And while the videotape-based technology featured in the film may have dated, its ideas around media proliferation and viral dissemination remain as relevant as ever.