David Cronenberg’s 1983 horror hallucination “Videodrome” — screening Tuesday, Aug. 15, as part of the Museum of Modern Art’s “Future Imperfect: The Uncanny in Science Fiction” series — bears the director’s leading preoccupations: flesh-and-technology hybrids (as in “Existenz”); cult psychology (à la “Crash”); and splashes of splatter (thanks to Rick Baker’s effects wizardry). But most startling is its prescience.
James Woods, exuding smarmy charisma, is Max, an executive at a small cable station broadcasting lurid images pilfered from satellite signals; think public access with kink and ultraviolence. (Deborah Harry, as an enigmatic television presence, embodies the tube’s seductive power.) Soon Max grows homicidal himself and, succumbing to a spreading mind-control conspiracy, is at one point forced to wear glowing gear resembling a virtual reality headset. “The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena,” a commentator notes. “Television is reality, and reality is less than television.” (moma.org/film)
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