Little by little Hollywood fat cats are killing off the good name horror established for itself in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Nowadays big studios are putting their money into high profile remakes of genre classics as opposed to getting behind filmmakers who want to bring unique stories to the table. Videodrome, David Cronenberg‘s classic slice of techno-horror surrealism is the latest for the chop.
For those who haven’t seen the film, Videodrome tells the story of Max Renn, the head of a Canadian TV studio which programmes sleazy material. He eventually comes across Videodrome, a videotape that contains seemingly real scenes of people being tortured and killed. Believing this is the future he seeks to have it programmed on his station. However, the Videodrome has some form of spiritual power which begins to cause hallucinations and control Renn’s mind, leading to a series of truly bizarre events where the line between fiction and reality is blurred with tactile special effects that really have to be seen to be believed.
Adam Berg, a Swedish commercials/music video director no has ever heard of, has been chosen by Universal to helm the big budget retooling. He will be working from a script written by go to Hollywood hack Ehren Kruger, who previously butchered Hideo Nakata’s terrific Ringu for the hideously overrated The Ring. Most recently he was the screenwriter behind the Transformers sequels, giving us the immortal characters Skids and Mudflap, two reprehensible African-American stereotypes (only robots) who proudly told the audience in an “inspired” line of dialogue: “We don’t really do reading.” Sounds good so far, right?
Their idea is to modernise the concept (Blu-Raydrome? DVRdrome?) and “infuse it with the possibilities of nano technology and blow it up to a large scale sci-fi thriller.” The meaning of that last sentence is a tad vague but one predicts that a lot of stuff is going to get blown up. Great.
Of all the remakes to consider Videodrome is the weirdest and toughest to crack, but also a pointless exercise. It is a film that is defined and about its period, where TV was becoming a really powerful commodity and the possibilities were many, they were also frightening and shocking.
There is nothing about the idea of television which is shocking or terrifying anymore and its central themes have been worked to death by filmmakers for the past 30 years. If they are going to just rehash over the same ideas its highly unlikely that they are going to be able to say it as well as Cronenberg did.
It’s a sad day, folks. Soon you’ll be starting a conversation about Videodrome (the conversation that has beleaguered other classics such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, Halloween) like this: “Have you seen Videodrome… the original one?”