248 Videodrome

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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colinr0380
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#26 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:19 pm

So we shouldn't be wary of the media but the message. This is very interesting because the film seems to show a struggle between the two groups trying to control the media through which they send their message, but this larger struggle is filtered through a hallucinating perspective of an outsider getting caught up in the plot. A little like watching a war from the perspective of a footsoldier, given important tasks or carrying important information but in the end expendable.

Thinking this way it seems like a struggle between money and intellect. I got the sense that Spectacular Optical were using the videodrome signal as part of a 'testing' process - of examining its effects before deciding on what practical, commercial (weapon?) use it could be put to.

While on the other hand the O'Blivions were heavily involved in the use to which the signal could but put, not for commercial ends, but for the benefit of others.

It could be seen as way of illustrating a 'public domain vs copyright' issue or perhaps the way that you can have a proprietorial software package, yet not have much control over the uses to which it is put by the customer, especially when media is becoming more 'interactive'.

It also seems that the O'Blivions were some kind of breakaway faction, with access to the technology, and in danger of revealing corporate secrets, so a threat to Convex.

The O'Blivions do seem a reactionary group, rather than a strike first, terrorist organisation. Convex and Spectacular Optical on the other hand are pro-active - placing Harlan with Max and first exposing Max to the videodrome signal, making copies of the tape for Max to watch in his apartment and confronting Max face to face to intensify his hallucinations first with the slightly weird-looking, unreal helmet and then with the full on hallucination of the videotape in the stomach.

The O'Blivions are the opposite (perhaps creating the idea that bad things will track us down but we actually have to search to find the good things in life!) Max has to hunt down Bianca O'Blivion at the Cathode Ray Mission, she doesn't come to him, and he has to tell her about his exposure to the signal, which suggests that she hasn't been aware of his exposure or hasn't been monitoring him, making her a part of a group 'apart' from Spectacular Optical.

Then she sends Max her father's tape - a way of subverting the violent torture programming he has so far received, that triggers a hallucination, but a non-threatening, pleasurable one where he is reunited with Nikki through the television. (This could also show why the Cathode Ray Mission is set up - yes it is 'patching them back into the world's mixing board' but it seems that the vagrants sitting in front of television aren't just getting a few hours of gameshows but probably each receiving their own videodrome signal. Could this be seen as disturbing as Convex's overt machinations, though? Are the O'Blivions pure of heart in providing access, knowledge and power to the powerless? Or is it something more sinister? To create an army of willing soldiers in any confrontation with the power behind Spectacular Optical? Or is it for personal advancement, making Bianca O'Blivion a new druglord peddling the videodrome signal to the underclass? Motivations are left unclear, especially as the film becomes more and more subjective, but does it suggest that any actions perfomed in the public sphere, like Spectacular Optical or the Cathode Ray Mission are fronts for their real, more disturbing and less publicly acceptable purposes?)

So all Max's good experiences come after the O'Blivion signals and his horrific visions after Convex programs him. However there is also the sense that both 'sides' are playing with something bigger than either of them, that whether for good or bad purposes they are destroying Max and pushing him into madness. Bianca is probably less culpable since she does not expose him to the signal in the first place, but she does capitalise on Max blundering into the situation and exacerbates his hallucinations through the tapes, then uses Max to assassinate Convex, making Max's role as a footsoldier unaware of the wider picture, just the orders he has to follow, more explicit.

In a way I agree with the article I posted that the ending is pessimistic - he is being given an escape route, but through suicide. It seems to me that this is some form of self destruct routine built into the O'Blivion program - go and assassinate Convex then kill yourself - but because it comes from the more benign organisation Max is given redemption and a promise of a new life, in a new form, with Nicki. Probably the Convex program was similar - kill Bianca O'Blivion and then yourself - but it wouldn't have bothered with 'sugaring the pill' for Max.

What this suggests to me is exactly the point you made - the media of the videodrome signal is not 'good' or 'evil'. It is not intending to cause hallucinations and brain tumors. It just is - similar to how the virus in Shivers isn't spreading through the apartment block for an 'evil' purpose, it is just propagating itself (the opposite of Shivers would be a film like Invasion of the Body Snatchers where the spores actually are a concious, hostile threat to humanity).

It is the way the signal is being used, with Max (and incidentally Nicki, necessitating her removal from the picture) as the test subject, which is the truly horrific part of the film. Both sides of the struggle are so caught up in their war that they are willing to make sacrifices, Convex to get control of Civic TV, Bianca to stop him. Everyone around them is expendable, from Max's partners to Masha, to Nicki, to Max himself.

It really is a fascinating film, saying a lot about how it must feel to be at the ground level of a conflict much bigger than you are, with only an inkling of the larger picture, just the disturbing feeling that you are being used for someone else's needs that might not have your best interests as its top priority - something that we don't need a sci-fi concept like the Videodrome signal to already be familiar with!

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#27 Post by Poncho Punch » Fri Nov 03, 2006 7:28 pm

I know a lot of this has been said already in this thread, but I'd like to share the following paper I wrote on this film (along with Egoyan's Speaking Parts and Arcand's Stardom):

[quote]
Breaking the Surface: Superficiality and Transformation in Canadian Cinema's Representations of TV and Video


“Here is a question: can people live through imagistic representations of life? If they can, do they need to gain control of how those representations are made? And if these questions can be answered ‘yes' and ‘yes,' at what point do people fall in love with the representation? […] Maybe they are really falling in love with their own ability to conjure up that image.â€

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#28 Post by Rupert Pupkin » Tue Nov 07, 2006 7:41 am

Hi there, is there an extended video of Videodrome? if yes, why this extended cut hasn't been included in the Criterion pack?

here's what I read on a Blondie/Debbie Harry forum:

What's really frustrating is that there is a tv version that is radically different with lots of extra scenes with Debbie that aren't in the theatrical or DVD edition. Why aren't these scenes bonus footage on the Criterion release? If you have Sci-Fi Channel, they show this version every so often. It has extra scenes with Debbie and James. She even calls picks him up in a limo and they hook up. She tells him why she gets off on pain in the back of the car. It's amazing. Someone really dropped the ball with the extra bonus features. Or perhaps...another version will be coming out soon. One can only hope. At least I taped the Sci-Fi version. It also has a different title sequence with a very cool painting of Debbie as Nikki Brand.

That's exactly the screenshots you can find in the gallery photo of the Criterion bonus edition (when Nikki (Debbie Harry) calles James, etc...) but as far as I can remember Criterion wrote in the gallery section that unfortunately, all those edited/cut scenes are lost (whatever the reason was that the cut footage was lost, or because it was silent/ no dubs, like some other video footage which Criterion included).

Thus, I'm really surprised and so interested to read that on your Sci-Fi TV channel (is it a TV channel btw ? I'm in France, so this channel is totally unknown to me) broadcast an extended version of Videodrome...

Criterion is not the only release of Videodrome, but if you checked on some DVD comparison site such as dvd-beaver or dvd-basen, you won't find another DVD release (as far as I know - no matter it is region zone 1, zone 3, 2, some obscure Corean release, etc..) which would feature the extended footage.
And I'm sure that if this footage had existed, Criterion would have included. So I'm really disappointed by Criterion, and would be really curious to read why Criterion has not included this extended footage, since they often do an extensive research and some stellar transfers before releasing a Criterion edition....

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#29 Post by miless » Tue Nov 07, 2006 4:19 pm

it sounds as if a TV cut was made in the 80's or 90's... they probably decided to add in a bunch of extra footage of Debbie in order to get more people to watch. Cronenberg was probably not involved with this (as the Criterion version is his 'un-censored directos cut')
they probably didn't include it with the SE because either a. David Cronenberg did not want it included, or b. the only available footage exists in VHS copies from the 80's, which is probably low in quality and probably wouldn't have even met the standards of their LaserDiscs.

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#30 Post by Le Samouraï » Tue Nov 07, 2006 4:58 pm

Cronenberg dislikes the made-for-TV edit so much, he did not even want the scenes included in the extras. If "someone dropped the ball on this one", it was the director himself.

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#31 Post by Rupert Pupkin » Wed Nov 08, 2006 2:23 am

Le Samouraï wrote:Cronenberg dislikes the made-for-TV edit so much, he did not even want the scenes included in the extras. If "someone dropped the ball on this one", it was the director himself.
Yes, I understand the point of view of Criterion. I don't remember if this edition was 'director approved' (btw, it was my favorite of the year when it came out.)

The thing is that I find kind of frustrating to have a gallery of photos on the bonus disc stating something that the video footage has been lost or doesn't exist. They could have included these scenes as additional cut scenes from the TV extended footage (even if the quality was so-so) and keep the film in its original director's approved cut; uncensored.

I mean, for instance, in The Godfather, most of the additional scenes (which you can see separately as cut scenes) had been used for the TV recut, but it was nice to have all films in their original movie theatres cut + these great additional scenes...

Is this TV extended cut of Videodrome has been released on DVD somewhere in the world?

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#32 Post by Le Samouraï » Wed Nov 08, 2006 7:58 am

I do understand your frustration, and personally I would have preferred to have those scenes as extras. However, one can hardly expect Criterion to jeopardize their relationship with Cronenberg by including them when he doesn't want them to be seen.

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#33 Post by The Invunche » Wed Nov 08, 2006 8:00 am

And apparently no matter how much they do there will always be someone demanding more.

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#34 Post by Le Samouraï » Wed Nov 08, 2006 8:09 am

Of course. There's always this dream of the mythical "perfect release".

Personally, I would have loved if Criterion had included the "Long Live the New Flesh" documentary, which now probably will never surface on this media.

But, hey, the extras are pretty great anyway, and it is definitely on of my favorite releases just for the Cronenberg commentary.

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#35 Post by Rupert Pupkin » Wed Nov 08, 2006 9:05 am

The Invunche wrote:And apparently no matter how much they do there will always be someone demanding more.
I easily would have elected this Videodrome release the best of the Criterion release of that year, because the extra were so great...

It's still one of my fav Criterion...

But when I learned that the scenes that we can see in the gallery photo were actually available in video; it's a little frustrating when you're such a fan of this movie...that's all ;-)

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#36 Post by HerrSchreck » Sun Nov 12, 2006 5:51 am

The Invunche wrote:And apparently no matter how much they do there will always be someone demanding more.
You gotta expect this when each reply is only one line long 100% of the time. No?

Okay enough for now. I'm sleepy...
(Yet the post-suicide-jumpers keep leaping)

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>Splat< (Good night YilmUnche)

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#37 Post by Poncho Punch » Thu Apr 12, 2007 2:39 pm

Are there any resources available on "Camera" (2000)? I feel it's one of Cronenberg's most interesting works, but I can't find any articles on it; god knows I don't like to think for myself.

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Re: 248 Videodrome

#38 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:49 am

I bought this during the recent B&N sale, but I wanted to comment. Just to echo Rupert Pupkin from his earlier post, I miss some of the TV edits, too. I first saw the film on television and expected this DVD to have that painting at the very end before the credits. I never knew that there was a TV edit that had additional scenes rather than just censored scenes. (I'm aware of the censorship now having the DVD and listening to DC's commentary.) It'd be nice to have had that painting included in the extras as I found it rather striking.

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Re: 248 Videodrome

#39 Post by Norbie » Sun May 23, 2010 1:18 pm

A Blu-ray edition of VIDEODROME is in the works. Hopefully before the festive season!
I was interested in the film for a long time and when i saw what Criterion had for offer for this film i had to get it. I love the "Beta" case. Because of the wonderful packaging in was my first Criterion DVD purchase. I'm from Australia and we never had anything like it on our shores, it was something special

Very soon i will have to decide if i will purchase the BR version. If it cames in a great package and new material i wont think twice and get it ASAP. However, if it only has a new HD transfer and lossless audio; which i'm pretty shore it will have....just don't take me to court with it - it won't be enough.

Will you double-dip?

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Re: 248 Videodrome

#40 Post by daniel p » Wed Jun 16, 2010 8:08 pm

I wonder what they will do with the packaging - the temporary cover at amazon seems the same as the DVD release. But how will they make a Blu-Ray spine resemble a VHS?

I think I will double dip on this, I think it will look great in HD. I am expecting the same package, just with upgraded picture and sound though, as speculated above. I guess this and Seven Samurai will be the next announced Blu's?

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Re: 248 Videodrome

#41 Post by godardslave » Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:14 pm

Is the 1986 Cronenberg documnetary "Long Live The New Flesh" on dvd anywhere?

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Re: 248 Videodrome

#42 Post by stereo » Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:23 pm

godardslave wrote:Is the 1986 Cronenberg documnetary "Long Live The New Flesh" on dvd anywhere?
vsom.com

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Re: 248 Videodrome

#43 Post by godardslave » Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:38 pm

stereo wrote:
godardslave wrote:Is the 1986 Cronenberg documnetary "Long Live The New Flesh" on dvd anywhere?
vsom.com
thanks! nice site.

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Re: 248 Videodrome

#44 Post by Buttery Jeb » Fri Sep 03, 2010 6:00 pm

Image has the Blu-ray release scheduled for December 7th.

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Re: 248 Videodrome

#45 Post by Jerryvonkramer » Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:32 pm

I suspect I'll be alone in saying that I really didn't like Videodrome. There's something clammy about it. People hail it as Cronenberg's first real masterpiece, but I think Shivers is a much more effective film both in terms of horror and making you think. I don't know, I've just always found it completely unengaging and uninteresting - with whatever points it is trying to make about the nature of the media rather obvious and cliched. It's not too weird, it's not too surreal or obtuse or inaccessible, it's just not very profound.

I might have to watch it again one day for a reassessment given how much fuss is made of it, but of all Cronenberg's films it remains the least satisfying for me.

The only thing I will credit it for is creating a stiflingly claustrophobic atmosphere.

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Re: 248 Videodrome

#46 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:55 pm

I saw this around 5 years ago, and the experience of watching that one time it has stuck with me. Claustrophobic is an interesting word to use for it, though now as I'm writing it it's fairly obvious. What was more clear to me then was that there was a real sense of darkness, as if you're looking at Hell itself sometimes. It's not so much in the gore factor, but more how the actors are lit and how the lines are sometimes delivered. I watched the last 10-15 minutes of Scanners on cable recently and got that similar vibe from it as well. The only movie I'd seen that approached that before, was Jacob's Ladder.

I've only seen a handful of his films, but I sense that this is something David has lost since he went away from the more hardcore horror films. Dead Ringers and Crash had maybe a small percentage of it, while A History Of Violence and Eastern Promises not at all. But for the latter two, that may just be me since I've seen plenty of violent and dark crime films to begin with.

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Re: 248 Videodrome

#47 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Sep 04, 2010 8:24 am

There is one really tiny moment that occurs in both Scanners and Videodrome that for some reason I always find strangely moving. At the end of the exploding head sequence and of the assassination of Convex in their respective lecture hall and presentation room, we get a move from this huge environment where something spectacularly awful has occurred and into the corridors surrounding this soon to be notorious room.

The focus is usually on following the main characters, either Max walking out or Daryl Revok getting bundled into the stairwell, but what I love is seeing the traumatised audience members stumbling out of the lecture in Scanners, or that beautiful shot of some of the workers in the lobby outside the presentation room, unaware of the horrific, nightmarish scene inside, curiously walking towards the source of the commotion as Max walks past.

I love that sense of there being a 'big event' occuring but that after such a scene there is an aftermath and that different people around 'the event' have experienced or witnessed the scene in different ways. It adds a sense of verisimillitude but also is an interesting way of showing how information about the event is expanding beyond the semi-public space of an exclusive, invitation only kind of event to the wider knowledge of the outside world - that very brief moment when a shocking event is still a relatively intimate experience and there is a world outside that is still relatively innocent of the knowledge of what has taken place.

This is also something that of course happens in a wider way in many Cronenberg films - the 'normal', public, impersonal areas of the world that are made to seem strange and alien by the introduction of a shocking element, like the parasites in the apartment block in Shivers, or the use of roads in Crash, the killers (maybe with a connection to Hemmingway!) entering the small town diner in History of Violence or the underbelly of London in Eastern Promises. Sometimes the world doesn't change but the psychology of the character from beginning to end shifts so much that it transforms the world around them in such a way that there is no going back (for example in Dead Ringers that final outdoors sequence at the payphone is kind of shocking in the way it broadens the film's perspective for a final, tragic moment before diving into the finale).

Perhaps I'm reading too much into what are a few brief shots at the end of these big setpiece scenes but I think the way that these shots in Videodrome and Scanners help to segue both the character and the audience back into 'normal world' spaces make that the sequences in both films even more powerful.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: 248 Videodrome

#48 Post by Matt » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:28 pm


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Re: 248 Videodrome

#49 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:29 pm

It's about fucking time! I love Videodrome and it's already one of their best DVD transfers, so I'm looking forward to seeing the Blu-ray. Thank you, Universal, for not stealing this one back for Blu-ray like you did with Do the Right Thing and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

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Re: 248 Videodrome

#50 Post by Minkin » Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:13 pm


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