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Now in our sixth calendar year
PCR #273  (Vol. 6, No. 24)  This edition is for the week of June 13--19, 2005.

"Batman Begins"
 by Mike Smith
Cronenberg Heaven, Part 1: Long Live the New Flesh
 by Vinnie Blesi
"The Longest Yard"...."Mr. And Mrs. Smith"
 by John Lewis
MJ....Passing On....Jaws: The Story, Part 21
 by Mike Smith
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Couch Potato Confessions by Vinnie B.

Cronenberg Heaven, Part 1:
Long Live the New Flesh

When I originally saw David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome” in the early '80s, I realized that this was a special movie. The videotape itself was in its infancy. I did not have a VCR yet, and so the idea of video being integrated into the public’s psyche was a new and exciting concept to me. Plus the effects, by Rick Baker and others, really had an impact on me. Like many of Cronenberg’s films, objects inserted into the body is one of the main themes and seeing a video cassetted being inserted into James Wood’s stomach was intriguing. The videocassette as a living organic thing was also visionary.

If you are not familiar with this film, it revolves around Max, played by James Woods, who runs a sleazy television network. He happens to get a tape of a pirate satellite signal of a snuff show called “Videodrome”. The movie goes on to deal with his obsession with “Videodrome”, hallucinations and going in and out of reality, and ultimately a plot to brainwash the masses via TV with this new show of violence, “Videodrome”. Without intent, some of this movie turned out to be quite prophetic with the violence in movies, TV and videogames desensitizing today’s viewers as well as how the public is manipulated by fear of terrorism. The film also features the lovely Debbie Harry, of the punk-pop band Blondie, who is perfect as the reporter that Max also becomes obsessed with.

Long Live The New FleshThis movie is one that you could argue all day about as to what the actual meanings are. From our societal obsession with sex and violence, to the effects of the cathode ray, to voyeurism, and even deeper questions such as can the human soul live on in video tape? Cronenberg gets away with James Woods making love to the TV as well as a scene where he inserts his hand in the video slot in his stomach that got by the censors and is as far as I know the only “fisting” scene in a mainstream movie.

The good folks at Criterion have released a deluxe 2 dvd version of “Videodrome” that is an excellent excursion into the making of the movie. For starters the video is remastered and as the liner notes state,” Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and scratches were removed”. The print on the dvd is the best I have seen, and if you have seen any of the poor prints being circulated on TV you will definitely appreciate this one.

The package itself is a wonderful work of art, and the dvd case is designed to look like a beta videocassette tape (see image). The 40 page colour booklet contains essays and stills and along with the plethora of bonus material on the dvd you will be totally immersed in the Videodrome experience.

The dvd features plenty of material on the making of the special effects, including some that didn’t make it into the final movie. Comments from Rick Baker and others give a real glimpse into their pre-CGI filmmaking on a budget. There is also an entertaining story about the special effects shot at the end of the film.

VideodromeAlso chronicled are the hardships of filming the actual snuff footage, along with complete unedited shots of the snuff footage as well as the entire soft porn film that is seen in the film.

Stories of getting the film completed round out this superb collection, as Cronenberg was writing the script as they went along, and as the production money was a Canadian film grant it had to be spent by the end of the year.

Overall besides giving Cronenberg fan’s an excellent copy of ‘Videodrome” to watch, this collection gives an unique insight (at least for me) into one filmmaker’s process and the dedication and commitment of the people who worked on this project, and how they overcame the daily challenges having to rely on their creativity and experimentation instead of a computer.

Click here to purchase from Amazon.com

Coming next month: Cronenberg Heaven Pt. 2: Bug Powder for the Masses

"Couch Potato Confessions" is ©2005 by Vinnie B.  Couch Potato main graphic by Vin Blesi and Nolan Canova.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.