Monday, April 27, 2009

No, No, A Thousand Times No: Videodrome Remake

Dang nab it, just as I manage to use my Karmic powers of "thinking bad thoughts about people" to successfully smother the embryonic (and inevitably unsatisfying) Bioshock movie, I see this atrocity.

I was just mulling the possibility of a Videodrome remake the other day, and while the spazzy fanboy deep within is jumping up and down at the attention being bestowed on his all time favorite film, common sense and grim precedent have joined forces to beat the living snot out of him. There are four reasons (only two of them good) for Hollywood to remake a film.

1. It is an aging film with great potential untapped by its original production. (Too small of a budget, inadequate special effects technology, studio meddling/censorship, etc.)

2. It is a terrible film with some interesting ideas that need to be explored by more competent filmmakers. (This is assuming the ideas are too closely entwined with the original film to be used in a new intellectual property.)

3. It is a good film that is not in English and must be xeroxed with an American cast in order to be palatable to the drooling, illiterate masses. (I could write pages on top of pages about how annoying this trend is to fans of J & K-horror. Now that the remakes have started reaching our Western shores before the originals, my fingers are crossed that this mania has finally jumped the shark.)

4. Some empty suits need to fill out their release schedule but are too cheap and cowardly to try anything new and untested. (Note to empty suits: Knarf Black's Rape Zombies is still available.)

Arguments could be made for a Videodrome remake under reasons 1 & 2, but I'm going to have to strongly disagree with #1 and punch you in the face for advocating #2. (Calm down, I hit like a girl.) #1 best applies to films that are badly dated, but with narratives that do not need to be tied to that date.

Paradoxically, Videodrome has neither of the above qualifications. With one important caveat it is not a particularly dated film. The '80s fashions and references, while far from nonexistant, are subdued. No one will mistake James Woods' Atari for a Playstation 3 or Debbie Harry's giant shoulder dresses for [error - humorous fashion reference not found] but the cumulative effect is about as far from Mannequin as anything from the '80s can get. Cronenberg even effectively hides the film's Canadian origins; it's grimy metropolis could be mistaken for any urban pre-dystopia, and the only geographical reference made is to "North America."

Obviously the film's technology does ground it firmly in the analog age, but I contend that this zeitgeist is deeply connected to its themes. In fact, I've always thought of the film as a lonely entry in one of the many splintering subgenres of cyberpunk: tubepunk (or analogpunk, take your pick.) Even as the film takes place in a shady urban anytown, the retro technology cuts right to its heart.

According to Variety, the remake will be a large scale sci-fi action thriller that may incorporate nanotechnology somehow. That sounds like a cool movie, but doesn't sound like a dark fever dream about alienation in a world being changed by broadcast television, and it certainly doesn't sound like Videodrome.

What I would like to see (if you don't mind some hypocrisy) is a videogame sequel to the film. I envision something along the lines of Bioshock and Condemned making sweet love to each other while Deus Ex watches. (Quick, someone important contact me about the details. It'll be way better than Rape Zombies, honest.)

See what did I tell you? Not dated at all.


  1. I would like to see the movie that this trailer is advertising. But, I'm pretty sure its not Videodrome.

  2. How could you even call it "Videodrome" in a modern world without video tapes? Unless they still use video tapes. If Betamax is still the current format in the "Videodrome" world, I'm all for it. But I'm guessing its not going to be.

    There's something horribly "biological" about magnetic tape

  3. Peter Griffin: James, do we really have to watch "Videodrome"?

    James Woods: Yeah, I think you're really going to appreciate all the subtle nuances of my performance. See, even though that guy is talking, your eye is drawn to me.

    Peter Griffin: Yeah, is there going to be any nudity?

    James Woods: Yes, I get naked.