David Cronenberg is widely revered as one of the leading pioneers of the body horror genre. Known for his contributions to the evolution of horror as well as science fiction, Cronenberg is often regarded as one of the most important auteurs of the 20th century due to the impact of some of his influential works such as Scanners and The Fly among others.
Cronenberg’s filmography is endlessly enigmatic but one film stands out as, perhaps, his most unique creation. That project is none other than Videodrome, a brilliant body horror film about the CEO of a television station who falls down a dark and deep rabbit hole when he comes across a strange broadcast signal playing brutal snuff films.
Videodrome was Cronenberg’s attempt to create a visually powerful commentary on the dark operations of mass media machines. Anticipating the conversations surrounding post-humanism and the rapidly deteriorating social fabric due to the irreversible actions of technology, Videodrome is a striking experience for modern audiences.
In an interview, Cronenberg insisted that he wasn’t thinking in terms of horror. “They talk about me as the inventor of body horror. But I’ve never thought of it as being horrific,” he said. “Of course, you’re being a showman, and if you’re making a low-budget horror film—there were a lot of those around at the time—how do you get yourself noticed?”
Adding, “Certainly I was in the world, and not an abstractionist. I was trying to make movies and continue to make movies. But there’s the philosophical underpinning for all of it. If neurology is reality, that’s an incredible theme—how to structure a narrative that will discuss that? Immediately you’re into changing the body to change the reality, and that’s what led me to all of those things like Videodrome.”
To a large extent, Videodrome was influenced by the teachings and writings of a professor at the University of Toronto when Cronenberg was a student there. Drawing inspiration from the philosophical rumination of Marshall McLuhan, Cronenberg conducts a visual translation of McLuhan’s theories about mass media and the breakdown of the human psyche.
Videodrome was also based on Cronenberg’s childhood since as a child, he would spent late nights trying to pick up broadcast signals while worrying about the possibility of encountering something that was not meant to be found by the public. These personal anxieties and the more omnipresent fears about the future of human society blended together to create the masterpiece that is Videodrome.
Watch the making of David Cronenberg’s Videodrome below.