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A mysterious pirate station lures a cocky Toronto cable entrepreneur (James Woods) into the reality-warping world of the "new flesh," in David Cronenberg's prescient and vastly influential vision of a media age run amok.
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Anointed by none other than Andy Warhol as "A Clockwork Orange for the eighties," Cronenberg's prescient vision of a media age run amok is his most intellectually daring and conceptually rich film, and certainly his most influential. Cocky Toronto cable TV entrepreneur Max Renn (James Woods) has made a name for himself with his sleazy and sensationalistic programming. Searching for new content, Renn discovers a pirate station called Videodrome, which broadcasts sadomasochistic porn and what appears to be real, on-camera torture and murder. Sickened yet fascinated, Renn sets out to find the source of the mysterious channel, which soon plunges him into a clandestine war pitting shadowy governmental-corporate interests against renegade media warriors in a war for the public's minds. Both intellectually far-reaching — Cronenberg evokes the persona and philosophy of Marshall McLuhan in the character of self-styled media prophet Prof. Brian O'Blivion — and funkily local in its affectionately caustic portrait of mid-eighties Toronto media culture (Woods' relentlessly self-promoting Renn was based on CityTV mini-mogul Moses Znaimer), Videodrome also saw the realization of one of Cronenberg's key concepts — the visionary/nightmarish evolutionary fusion of organic and inorganic, man and machine — in its infamous, endlessly quotable tagline: "Long live the new flesh!"