Establishing Max Renn as head of Channel 83, the opportunist runs a Toronto-based television station geared at projecting the sensational. After picking up a renegade channel from the otherness of the third world, Max becomes the product of McLuhanesque experimentation, pulses from television signals controlling his thought processes and subsequent actions. The character of Max Renn, it is said, was modeled on Moses Znaimer, head of CITY TV, Toronto's equivalent to Channel 83: Brian Oblivion's monologues a la Speakers Corner.
Our hero's artillery consists of a phallic-like extension housed in a vaginal opening. Nikki Brand (Deborah Harry) represents the desirable introduction to a product that he himself markets, perhaps an obviation that until this point was unattainable? Max's transgressive tendencies are projected through the videodrome, liberating him from the stigmatic purveyor of physical explicitness.
In a sense, Cronenberg has created his notion of Videodrome both as way of weeding out and destroying cells aroused by such activity, and as a way of gauging public sentiment toward this subject matter. The film itself was exposed to the judgmental ardor: its text encompassed, picketed by female members of parliament and removed from public screening, the subtext of subtext. Cut into three versions, the television cut is laughable; the VHS version appears as mise en scène in Atom Egoyan's Speaking Parts (1989), and the old DVD contains an original theatrical trailer that is a fitting pre-curser to this masterpiece.
The Criterion Collection's DVD has the following extra features:
-Two audio commentaries: David Cronenberg and director of photography Mark Irwin, and actors James Woods and Deborah Harry
-Camera (2000), a short film starring Videodrome's Les Carlson, written and directed by Cronenberg
-Forging the New Flesh, a new half-hour documentary featurette by filmmaker Michael Lennick about the creation of Videodrome's video and prosthetic makeup effects
-Effects Men, a new audio interview with special makeup effects creator Baker and video effects supervisor Lennick
-Bootleg Video: the complete footage of Samurai Dreams and seven minutes of transmissions from "Videodrome," presented in their original, unedited form with filmmaker commentary
-Fear on Film, a 26-minute roundtable discussion from 1982 between filmmakers Cronenberg, John Carpenter, John Landis, and Mick Garris
-Original theatrical trailers and promotional featurette
-Stills galleries featuring hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes production photos, special effects makeup tests, and publicity photos English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
-Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition