Another day, another pointless remake. The latest classic to be given the Hollywood treatment is David Cronenberg’s 1983 masterpiece Videodrome.
Described by Andy Warhol as “A Clockwork Orange of the 1980s”, Videodrome is Cronenberg at his most visceral, most surreal, and most Cronenbergian. With breathtaking performances from James Woods and Deborah Harry and a dark, twisting score from Howard Shore, Videodrome is a fleshy fusion of sci-fi and body horror. By avoiding the bulldozing machinery of Hollywood, Cronenberg was able to make the film on his own terms, and the result is a fiercely uncompromising and impressively subversive exploration of television’s supposedly corrupting influence over us.
Now, to claim at this early stage that Universal’s lazy remake will lose everything that made the original so powerful would be churlish. And completely correct. How do I know? Well, it’s going to be written by Ehren Kruger; writer of Transformers 2 and 3.
Kruger, who also wrote Scream 3 - the worst of the Scream films – plans to remake Videodrome as “a large-scale sci-fi action thriller.” Where’s an exploding head when you need one? David Cronenberg’s screenplay was intelligent, profound and poetic; Ehren Kruger wrote Transformers 2 and 3.
And then there’s the inevitable load of CGI that’s bound to plague the remake. Perhaps the most impressive part of Videodrome are the visual effects, all physical and fleshy and real; from the weird, pulsating video slot in James Woods’ stomach to the bulging, throbbing television screens and video tapes, every bizarre bending of reality in Videodrome looks frighteningly vivid. Enter Ehren Kruger, who wrote Transformers 2 and 3.
Admittedly, in its third act Videodrome starts to fall apart, like so many of its characters. But better a brave and audacious attempt which doesn’t completely work than a slick piece of industrial boredom which we’ve seen a thousand times before. Videodrome has something to say. To quote Cronenberg’s script: “It has a philosophy. And that is what makes it dangerous.”
To quote another part of Cronenberg’s script: “Death to Videodrome!” Yep.