• Medium Cruel:
    Reflections on Videodrome

    By Tim Lucas

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    In 1981, it seemed to me that a new era of fantastic cinema was upon us. With this in mind, I persuaded an editor at Heavy Metal to accept an essay I wanted to write about the new generation of horror specialists, which I planned to call “The Shape of Rage” (after a psychological manifesto that figures in the plot of David Cronenberg’s 1979 film The Brood). It was a housebound project—with me interviewing George Romero, John Carpenter, Joe Dante, and makeup artist Tom Savini, all by telephone—until fate intervened and sent Cronenberg to Cincinnati on a promotional junket for his latest film, Scanners.

    This interview was a galvanizing experience for me. In my personal life, I had never met anyone who shared my seemingly irreconcilable interests in art and literature and horror movies. Cronenberg and I talked not only about his own work but also about Vladimir Nabokov, William S. Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, the structuralist theories of Claude Lévi-Strauss, and movies, from Don’t Look Now to Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. He was delighted when I told him that I considered such “Cronenbergian” archetypes as the Brood and the Scanners to be avatars of a new mythology—one that also included Carpenter’s Shape and Romero’s Living Dead.

    The article was published later that year, and that was that—until Videodrome was announced in the fall. I phoned Frederick S. Clarke, the editor of Cinefantastique (which had already published a feature story on Cronenberg’s career by Paul M. Sammon), to tell him about my inside track, and he asked me to get some quotes from Cronenberg for a news item. When I called David at his home in Toronto, he surprised me by inviting me up to observe the filming. Because the producers wanted to keep the script details a secret, it would be a closed set, and I would be the only film journalist present. It was my first set visit, my first trip out of the country, my first a lot of things. I was accompanied by my wife, Donna (acting as my photographer), on my first visit, from December 16 to 19, 1981 (supposedly the last week of filming), and by my friend Robert Uth during a return visit that lasted from March 7 to 13, 1982 (retakes and special-effects insert photography)—nine days in all.

    The on-set observations presented below are excerpted from my book about the production, Videodrome, part of Millipede Press’s Studies in the Horror Film series. Some of the material was originally presented in different form in Cinefantastique.

    The Original Draft of the Screenplay

    Cronenberg did not want to make any fragments of his first draft—titled Network of Blood—public (to quote his literary mentor, Nabokov, to do so would be like “passing around samples of one’s sputum”), but its nature reveals a great deal about his creative process, so integral to an understanding of his art. While writing his rough drafts, Cronenberg accepts as a given that they will resemble the final product in only the most basic way, and he allows his mind to move in any direction it desires, pushing the limits of what it is possible to render on-screen until those limits are broken; it is at this point that he feels truly in touch with his imagination. When he grants his imaginative powers absolute free rein, they are able to explode, backfire, frighten him.

    Some examples: In the first draft of Videodrome, Max Renn combats his hallucination by chopping his flesh gun off at the wrist, and from the stump there grows a fleshy, “potato masher”–style hand grenade, which explodes. There is a kissing scene in which Max and Nicki’s faces melt together into a single object that dribbles down, crawls across the floor and up the leg of an onlooker, and melts him. And the most horrible murder featured in the finished film—the erupting cancer death of Barry Convex—originally was to happen to five other characters as well. “My early drafts tend to get extreme in all kinds of ways: sexually, violently, and just in terms of weirdness,” Cronenberg explains. “But I have to balance this weirdness against what an audience will accept as reality. Even in the sound mix, when we’re talking about what sort of sound effects we want for the hand moving around inside the stomach slit, for example; we could get really weird and use really loud, slurpy, gurgly effects, but I’m playing it realistically. That is to say, I’m giving it the sound it would really have, which is not much. I’m presenting something that is outrageous and impossible, but I’m trying to convey it realistically.”

    This is something Cronenberg’s producers—Pierre David, Victor Solnicki, and Claude Héroux—apparently understood; Cronenberg’s creative eccentricities, after all, were the cornerstone of their empire, of which Scanners was the greatest success. “The way Videodrome really started,” Cronenberg remembers, “was Pierre saying that he wanted to do another picture with me, and me reciprocating. I met with him in Montreal and told him, in just a few words, the basic plot; it was only the first part of the movie I described to him, and it sounded more like a thriller than anything, in that limited description, and he liked what I said. But when I started writing it and all of these other things started to leap out at me, I really thought they would reject it. What I was writing was so much more extreme than my premise had suggested. To my surprise, all three of them loved it! I can’t tell you how surprised I was, because I thought I’d been going nuts all alone in my little room. Claude, in fact, said that he liked it best of anything I’d written but that if we shot it as it was written, it’d get a triple X for sure. I told him I had written it in a more extreme fashion than I would want to see it on the screen myself.

    The “wild” first draft of Videodrome was the script that got the production its major talent—actors James Woods and Deborah Harry, special makeup effects artist Rick Baker and his EFX Inc. crew, and many other essential players—but production began with a toned down (and unfin­ished) second draft. Throughout the production schedule, Cronenberg wrote new scenes and rewrote old ones, and new sheets were distributed to crew members regularly. The writing of Video­drome continued up until the very last day of shooting, Decem­ber 19. Additional makeup effects pho­tog­raphy was done in March 1982; the need to shoot a revised climax brought the crew back to Toronto for two days in May; and further changes were effected in the editing room. Rather miraculously, Videodrome doesn’t hint at any such instability in its final cut; it was Cronenberg’s most imaginative, stylized, satirical, and disturbing film to date.

    Principal Photography Begins

    Videodrome’s first week of shooting—beginning October 19, 1981—was completely devoted to the video­­­taping of a variety of monitor inserts. These were the monologues of Professor Brian O’Blivion (Jack Creley); a number of brutal torture sequences for the “Videodrome” program; and Samurai Dreams and Apollo & Dionysus, two soft-porn programs that are pitched by salespersons to Max Renn’s Civic TV and that were scripted to be shown in excerpt. Cronenberg had worked with video before, making two episodes of the television program Peep Show, “The Victim” and “The Lie Chair,” in 1977 for the Canadian Broadcasting Company, but he felt some trepidation about working with it again. “I wasn’t looking forward to those sessions, I must say,” he admits. “I’d done it before, but on two-inch tape and with multiple cameras, so we could edit as we were shooting by going from camera to camera. There wasn’t any of that on Videodrome. It’s very strange; I never really felt I got those scenes, this time, until we reshot them off monitors. Both [director of photography] Mark [Irwin] and I are very fascinated by videotape; it has a whole other feel. But I was much happier when we were back to shooting film.”

    Samurai Dreams was photographed in a rented corner of Toronto’s Global TV studios, on C-format one-inch tape, silent. On its own, outside Videodrome, it is a true curio: luxuriantly colorful and gracefully staged. “We shot it in half a day,” Irwin remembers, “and that’s where I came into the business—shooting porn [Ed Hunt’s Diary of a Sinner, 1974]—so I felt right at home. I told David that I hadn’t realized the Japanese were so raunchy, but he confessed that he’d made up all that Oriental ritualism surrounding the dildo. He’d had it carved the night before. The atmosphere on the set was very loose, very funny. The girl, who was French and spoke very little English, was very open to the whole thing, and there wasn’t any tension around to scare her away.” Asked about his striking ambience, Irwin says, “Well, to see it on the set, it looked a lot flatter than it does on a monitor. Had I shot Samurai Dreams on film, I would have had about six lights turned off to create that scene.” Watching the short unreel on a handy VCR, Irwin refers to the misty exterior tracking camera move as “my Kurosawa shot.”

    The “Videodrome” spots—which include whippings, electrocutions, strangulations, and other commercial highlights, all staged on art director Carol Spier’s unforgettably harsh set—look as if they were grim work indeed, especially as their shooting involved a couple of ten- to twelve-hour days. Special video effects supervisor Michael Lennick reports that the extremity of the material left him feeling “disoriented” at day’s end, but Irwin offers a flip-side observation: “It was no different than anything else, because, again, we were working with special effects. If you listen to the soundtrack on the tapes, you can hear David all the time, shouting, ‘Okay, now put her up against the wall! Okay, now shake around—you’re being electrocuted! Okay, now hang him up on that hook there! Let’s see some more energy in that whipping!’ It was more funny than sick. Nobody really felt bad, as far as I know. Those victims were stunt experts, and two of the girls really got into it and wanted to do more!” The small amount of light, more “realistic” bloodletting that is glimpsed in the “Videodrome” footage was not contributed, as some might think, by Rick Baker but rather by the film’s cosmetic makeup artist, Shonagh Jabour.

    A petite, intensely shy woman who moves about lightly in ballet slippers, Jabour was one of many crew members carried over from The Brood (Cronenberg’s previous Toronto production). With only a few exceptions and additions, the two films’ crews were identical. “One of the maddening things about starting out with someone new is that everything’s possible—and that’s not necessarily good,” Cronenberg explains. “It’s the same with any relationship: you want to cut down the world of possibilities; you want the other person to know that you hate pizza, so don’t even think about pizza. When you work or live with anyone for a long time, you narrow your range of possibilities in a positive, creative way.”

    The Cathode Ray Mission

    The large building at the corner of Bathurst and Adelaide—dubbed the Cathode Ray Mission by Carol Spier’s deceptively religious-looking outdoor marquee, and used as a home base and primary location for the majority of the production—was formerly a nursery school and originally a piano school. Entering through a side door, where snow and slush splattered with week-old dilutions of fake blood functioned as a welcome mat, one saw children’s paintings still hanging immediately inside. The down-going stairs led to the gratingly red “Videodrome” arena in November and December, and to the rusty interior of a derelict ship in March. The up-going stairwell led to sustenance: a food table, a coffee tank, and Styrofoam cups. The next room, the building’s largest (a former auditorium, complete with a proscenium that must have hosted scores of children’s recitals and plays), housed the Cathode Ray Mission cubicles and the Spec Op stage on which Barry Convex corrupts to a howling heap of cancer tissues, and frequently offered the space of its corners for insert shots.

    The second floor, made accessible by a number of flights of stairs, was composed of a room used in November and December as the EFX workshop (seen in the film as the room where the videotaped remains of Professor O’Blivion are archived), another used by the video effects crew, a lounge area, and a long, narrow room with huge windows overlooking the action of the auditorium, which doubles in the film as Bianca O’Blivion’s office. There was no soundproofing; if a scene was being shot, Rick Baker’s crew was unable to work, no one could talk, and no toilets could be flushed. Even when one is stand­ing on a Carol Spier set, her skill deceives the eye. When I noticed the stained-glass trim on the windows in the O’Blivion Archive, I asked Carol if the building was ever used as a church—and she showed me that the colored glass was actually tinted gels applied to the edges of the extant windows. The illusion peeled right off.

    The Cancer Gun

    The cancer growths caused by Max’s flesh gun are described in each draft of the script as being an external effect. (“Moses is hit first, but not by bullets: Max’s handgun seems to fire little gobbets of flesh, which stick to Moses’ face and throat, then immediately begin to grow, until Moses’ face dissolves into an amorphous mass of veiny flesh within the space of a few seconds—like a cancerous growth seen to emerge in time-lapse photography.”) It went through several tests before the right concept was struck upon. Baker had many different ideas about how to handle the effect and assigned each member of the group a different way of trying it.

    Tom Hester tested a version in which he pumped various liquids and chemicals under the “skin” of a foam latex mask. Shawn McEnroe’s test involved tendrils that sprouted out from the cancerous tissues like tiny roots, crisscrossing over the victim’s face in a network of disease (in retrospect, Baker thinks this was the “most interesting” of the vetoed experiments). The group also tried swelling foam latex heads with solvents, which distorted them beyond recognition, but upon learning that his mentor, Dick Smith, had recently used the same procedure in another Canadian production, Spasms, Baker chose not to intrude on his work. There was also a last-resort investment in some stop-motion footage of the spreading cancer, which was “interesting, but it wasn’t the way the thing read in the script.”

    Baker then reconceived the effect as an internal cancer that would grow until it burst in a clustery explosion of bloody tissues through the victim’s body. “I explained to David that this was something we could do fairly simply: put people under a raised set who’d push the cancers up through a hollow dummy; and I asked if we could arrange it so that whenever this stuff happened, the actor would be up against a wall or on the floor.”

    By then, Cronenberg had cut the flesh-gun cancer casualties down from six to two: Max’s partner, Moses (Reiner Schwarz), and Spec­tacular Optical impresario Barry Convex (Les Carlson). He agreed that Moses, whom Renn assassinates in the offices of Civic TV, could be slammed by the flesh gun’s gobbets against the wall of the boardroom. Baker intended to fashion bubbly-looking cancers out of a pliant, translucent material called polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which would be worn on someone’s hand like a puppet and be forced manually through a foam rubber face and fiberglass skull. A life mask of Schwarz was taken by Baker and Steve Johnson. “We took it without an expression,” Baker reports, “because likenesses are so difficult and we wanted to do as little sculpting as possible. It turned out beautifully.” (On the other hand, when it came to Carlson’s turn to have his head cast, the actor endured the messy casting process five times, as each mold proved unacceptable—until, finally, a resculpted version of the first was used.) During production, Cronenberg made the decision to use the horrible, subjective cancer imagery for the death of his sleazy villain Convex alone, and that the killing of Moses, “since he’s really a good guy, would be shown as it really happens, on the reality plane, using ordinary blood bags and squib charges.” As finally filmed, the spectacular death of Barry Convex was primarily a showcase for the talents of EFX wunder­kind Johnson.

    A take of Moses’ death was shot with Renn wearing the flesh gun—a foam latex glove with a zipper, lubri­cated with methocellulose (from a Baker design, molded and sculpted by Hester)—but the final cut depicts the killing objectively, with Renn carrying an ordinary handgun. An unfinished mold of Moses’ head, cleft with a burden of cancer tissues, was on view in Baker’s workshop throughout the filming, but it was never finished or shot.

    The Breathing Television

    Another thing on which the video and makeup effects teams worked side by side was the “breathing screen,” a mechanical effect in which the televised lips of Nicki Brand pucker and blow against the glass of Max Renn’s TeleRanger TV screen, making it billow forth from the console frame like a swelling breast, as her seductive voice invites Max to push himself into her waiting mouth: “Don’t keep me waiting.”

    Baker experimented with various approaches to the effect. “I knew we would need a flexible material, and we tested with a weather balloon first, stretching it over a frame the size of a TV screen, and pushed a hand through it to see how far it stretched, and then we rear-projected on it.” He eventually settled on dental dam—“a stronger, stretchier kind of rubber” used most commonly by dentists in the molding of bridgework—which functioned ideally when painted over with a highly reflective white paint.

    When I told James Woods, after seeing “Videodrome,” how amazingly sexy the scene was, he chuckled and said, “Really? I felt sort of stupid when I was doing it, to be honest with you.”

    Black Tuesday and Unused F/X

    An additional intended use of the Tele­Ranger, which never materialized in the film, was its “skinning” on the “Videodrome” set. Cronenberg had initially scripted the scene in which Max whips the flesh TV so that the whip would peel the TeleRanger’s black veneer away from a throbbing underlayer of vulnerably exposed flesh. “I wanted the black to split open and show the skin underneath and, as he whips it, show big black flakes falling off.” Cronenberg eventually decided against this element of the whipping scene. Also for this unused sequence, Lennick invented a device he called a Videodromer, which used very low-voltage, high-amp magnetic field coils wrapped around the picture tube to distort the image on command.

    For a variety of reasons, aesthetic and financial, Lennick’s video crew was relieved of several pleasur­ably anticipated responsibilities two weeks prior to postpro­duc­tion shooting. “It was David, the producers, the postproduction supervisor, and me at this outra­geous meeting, which I’ve come to remember as Black Tuesday,” Lennick says. “That’s when we sat around and red-­penciled everything.” Cronen­berg even scratched the scene for which Lennick had initially been contracted, and for which he had had a television set thoroughly waterproofed (the director now felt the scene would “constitute a false turning point” for Max Renn):

    Scene 50


    At the sink in his bathroom, Max splashes cold water onto his face, studies his eyes. His pupils are dilated, open, like portholes into some strange other world.

    As he studies his dripping face in the mirror, the mirror becomes a TV screen for a few seconds, his own image in it going static-flecked video.
    Behind him in the TV screen mirror, Max seems to see the “Videodrome” set, with some vaguely nasty things going on amongst a group of shadowy figures. Max whirls around. The room is back to normal . . .

    . . He decides to forget the bath and reaches into the water to pull the plug.

    Max’s eyes suddenly go wide with fear, as though he has felt something alive in the tub. He pulls his hand out of the water and slams back against the sink. A metallic bubbling sound fills the room, echoes off the tiles.

    As Max watches, disbelieving, the TV set rises up out of the water, out of the blue Algamarine foam like an electronic Venus on the half shell. The set is swelling, breathing, and snorkeling, as befits a marine creature of its substantial size. Masha’s face is on the screen, an anguished expression wracking her features, a leather strap around her neck . . .

    Also scratched that day were some additional effects related to the Accumicon helmet, a moment in which Max shakes “video dandruff” from his head and shoulders at the close of a hallucination (Lennick planned to sprinkle flakes of Scotchlite material on the actor and fire a modulating laser off them), and a number of scenes in which Nicki Brand’s body and other objects would (in Cronenberg’s scripted words) “twitch video.” Lennick describes how the effect would have appeared: “In a flash, char­acters would be broken down from cellu­loid film’s 4,000-line resolu­tion to 525-line video resolution. Their body edges would become serrated, their coloring electric and almost neonlike.”

    “One of the main changes in tone for me,” Cronenberg says, “was the decision to go almost nonexistent in terms of video twitches. They were present in every single draft of the script. But when we started to put the film together, I cut in some video things to give myself an idea of what they would look like, and I decided it looked too tricky.”

    Lennick and his associate Lee Wilson prepared a reel of assorted video twitches and glitches for Cronenberg—“Everything from a basic white-noise glitch to complex little flashes with flecks of sublim­inal material in them,” Lennick says—which he did like. “It wasn’t the quality of their effects, per se,” Cronenberg explains, “but I didn’t have to see the actual twitches in context to know that they would have disrupted the film’s pacing. They didn’t gel with the surround­ing footage—that’s the main reason they were cut. Michael was very disappointed, but it wouldn’t be true to portray this as him and me being destroyed by budget restrictions. I’ve not regretted their loss either.”

    An Evolving Script

    Since so few horror directors author their own scripts, watching Cronen­berg navigate his way through the filming of his concept was fascinat­ing, to say the least. During the two visits I paid to the set, in December and March, I observed as Cronenberg thought and rethought, wrote and rewrote several important scenes. (On the last day of filming, after a full working day that had collected only one usable take, Cronenberg announced to the crew that he had not yet written the film’s ending to his satisfaction, that to film it as it was tentatively scripted would not be right, and, calling it a wrap, he proceeded to open—with considerable fearful wincing—a champagne bottle of Christ­mas cheer.) Among these was the scene of Max Renn stalking Bianca O’Blivion through the Cathode Ray Mission with his flesh gun (which actor James Woods affectionately dubbed “the pooperoo”). Bianca rushes behind a paper screen partition in one of the monitor cubicles, which Max rips away. Over a six-month period, Cronen­berg inserted many things behind that screen—from Nicki Brand to a video image of Nicki Brand. The first Nicki Brand sequence was the culmination of a visual trick Cronen­berg had initiated and ultimately discarded, in which Max’s perceptions of Nicki and Bianca blur into interchangeable women; the two women were revealed, in this first sequence, to be business partners of a sort. Max tears the screen and finds Nicki, seated authoritatively beside a computer board, wearing an outfit of O’Blivion conservatism. Nicki explains:

    We knew that you were “Video­drome”’s next target. We planned to intercept you, use you to dig deeper into “Videodrome.” I came to Brian O’Blivion five years ago. I studied with him. And I saw what “Videodrome” did to him. I also saw what it could be. In the right hands . . . your right hand, Max. I can see what it’s become. It may have started out as a hallucination, but now it’s real. You’re the new spring line. Isn’t that exciting?

    The scene, present as late as the script’s third draft, continues as Max discovers the flesh TV broadcasting an image of Bianca O’Blivion, her tightly bound hair now loose and languidly tumbling over her shoulders, wearing Nicki’s red dress (as seen on The Rena King Show), and baring one shoulder to reveal Nicki’s own Swiss Army knife scars.

    Asked about the symbiotic relation­ship between Bianca and Nicki in earlier drafts, Cronenberg says, “I was toying with that, yes, but it was not clear and not developed or anticipated enough to work. I don’t mind ambivalence or ambi­guity in a film—in fact, I think it’s necessary—but confusion is never necessary.”

    In postproduction, Cronenberg re­wrote the scene so that Max, tearing the screen, is confronted by the weeping tele-image of Masha; the video­taped footage was left over from the scrapped effects sequence in which the flesh TV was to rise, with Masha’s image on it, out of the soapy waters of Max’s bathtub. The desired effect was that Max would turn against Convex and his Spec Op goons to avenge Masha’s death—“They killed me, Maxie,” she cries. “I wasn’t supposed to tell you about Brian O’Blivion”—but their relationship, in the final analysis, had not been developed beyond a casual business connection. It wasn’t until Cronenberg screened a preview print to an audience in Boston in April 1982 that he saw the absolute necessity of bringing Nicki Brand (and Deborah Harry!) back into the picture, of resolving her character, at the relatively negligible cost of resolving Masha’s; he photographed new video footage of Harry for the film’s last scene and refilmed this scene to show Max (actually Woods’s stand-in, Art Austin) tearing the screen away from the flesh TV, showing Nicki’s death on “Videodrome.” This explained her sudden disappearance after flying to Pittsburgh and elevated Max’s sense of outrage, aloneness, and spirituality in the subsequent scenes, which saves his suicidal finale from feeling too defeatist. It was an extraordi­nar­ily elegant solution to Cronenberg’s puzzle. “It felt so right that it felt inevitable,” Cronenberg says, laughing, “but not so inevitable that I’d thought of it before!”

    As for the shipboard suicide that ends the film, it was Cronenberg’s original intention to continue the film briefly beyond it—into the “next phase,” as Nicki’s video image calls it. Before the decision was made to end the scene with the bang of Max’s gun, Cronenberg described his vision: “After the suicide, he ends up on the ‘Videodrome’ set with Nicki, hugging and kissing and neat stuff like that. A happy ending? Well, it’s my version of a happy ending—boy meets girl on the ‘Videodrome’ set, with the clay wall maybe covered in blood, but I’m not sure. Freudian rebirth imagery, pure and simple.” In anticipation of shooting it, Mark Irwin outlined his visual intentions thusly: “He’ll shoot himself in the head and go—boom!—out of frame, and we’ll cut to his head hitting the clay wall, and the camera will track back, and there he is, happy in front of the fireplace with his pipe and slippers and Nicki hopping all over him! Another film for the whole family!”

    These descriptions are euphemis­tic (to say the least) for a sexual cre­scendo the likes of which had not been seen in Cronenberg’s work since the joyously and venereally infected finale of Shivers. Cronenberg preferred us not to excerpt from the sequence in question, which depicted Max and Nicki (and, in a separate draft, Bianca) on the “Videodrome” set, nude and making love. However, to paraphrase: Nicki reveals to Max a new abdominal slit of her own, and Bianca has one too, and the three of them probe one another’s slits with their hands, which slip out bearing strange, mutated sexual organs emitting even stranger fluids, ending the film on a note of moist, exploratory, sensual feasting. Mutated-sex-organ appliances—both male and female—were required, and Rick Baker, too engulfed by other responsibilities to design and manufacture these, subcontracted the job to his friend Greg Cannom (The Sword and the Sorcerer). Cannom’s foam latex appliances arrived from Los Angeles in late December and, after viewing an impromptu test of them breathing and spurting viscous fluids in the EFX workshop, Cronenberg vetoed the scene alto­gether. The quality of Cannom’s work wasn’t to blame; if anything was, it was the accumulation of circumstances. Deborah Harry had contracted the stomach flu that the whole crew had suffered from at one time or another during the shoot, the production was behind schedule and rapidly nearing its Christmas deadline, and Cronenberg felt he couldn’t execute the scene to his own standards.

    All the Way Through to the End

    In revisiting these notes, it becomes very obvious to me that Videodrome was a film vastly ahead of its time, in terms not only of ideas but also of envisioning special-effects technologies some twenty years distant. In its scripted form, Videodrome is nothing less than a prophecy of the CGI era; concepts that it could not afford to realize on-screen in 1983 are now the stuff of rock videos and television commercials—the very wallpaper of twenty-first-century living. In the same way, Cronenberg’s unique character writing has greatly extended the range and depth of dramatic possibilities available to actors; it is telling that, in accepting his best actor Academy Award for Reversal of Fortune (1990), Jeremy Irons thanked—in addition to that film’s director, Barbet ­Schroeder—the director of Dead Ringers (1988). Sometimes called “prophetic” for the way his early “venereal horror” films prefigured the coming of AIDS, Cronenberg is more than this: he is one of the few figures to emerge in cinema’s first century who are truly analogous to Leonardo da Vinci and Jules Verne, people whose fertile imagi­nations laid the foundations of our technological future and changed the way all people live and think. Like­wise, in today’s post-Videodrome cinema, anything is possible. But cin­ema without David Cronenberg is unimaginable.

    Tim Lucas is a critic, screenwriter, and novelist, as well as the editor and copublisher of the award-winning Video Watchdog, a bimonthly consumer guide to cult and genre cinema on DVD. This piece originally appeared in the Criterion Collection’s 2004 DVD edition of Videodrome.

2 comments

  • By Gary LeDrew
    July 16, 2010
    08:24 AM

    I was a friend of Peter Lavender, we were having a drink at the 22 and he told me he was looking for a stand in for Deborah Harry. needs wide cheekbones. he leaves. This girl walks in with wide cheek bones. The perfect pick up line. hey you wanna be in the movies. lol. Her name was Rosie I sent her over and she got the job.
    Reply
    • By Michael Lennick
      May 30, 2013
      10:38 AM

      I remember Rosie. But (perhaps in understandable deference to to a lovely person and terrific stand-in), you didn't finish the story.... Did the perfect pick-up line work?