Videodrome is a mad, grotesque nightmare, all writhing flesh and flicking hallucinatory visions. We switch from one scene to the next without a narrative umbilical cord to follow, like a torpid couch potato flicking between channels. The movie is dank and forbidding, dripping with amniotic fluid, an aborted mutation.
Max Renn (James Woods) is the slimy head of a small cable station who intercepts a nasty gameshow, called “Videodrome,” where “contestants” are beaten and tortured. He’s fascinated, and his obsession is shared with his new masochistic girlfriend (Deborah Harry).
Renn’s attempt to discover the true nature of “Videodrome” leads into darkness. He’s overcome with hallucinations, and becomes a pawn in a primeval war between two groups, each part corporation, part cult.
Video here isn’t merely a medium for lurid pornography or hardcore violence, but the battleground for the soul of humankind. Perhaps soul is the wrong term, as Videodrome is obsessed with the human body; the eyes as the window to the soul, the “new flesh.” This battle is fought in inexplicable ways, with pulsating, organic videotapes inserted into flesh, and guns that extend visceral talons into the holder’s arms. The film descends into incoherency, but remains uniquely compelling throughout.