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Videodrome and Blondie
February 11, 2009 - Ron Flaviano
Back in 1983, I was very into Blondie and Deborah Harry. I was familiar with Blondie's "Heart of Glass" from their 1978 lp "Parallel Lines", and I bought the 45 rpm single for "Call Me" when it was released in early 1980. It wouldn't be until later in that year that Blondie would release "The Tide Is High" as the first single from their "Autoamerican" album. I bought the single and the album immediately, and thus started my love affair with Debbie Harry and Blondie. "Rapture" was an amazing track, and I searched for the French import of the 12" single for months before I found it. It featured a complete breakdown of all of the instruments, and then deftly added them one at a time into the saxophone break. It remains as one of my all-time favorite 12" mixes.
Over the next few years, I would begin to appreciate all of the group's work including "Eat To The Beat", "Blondie", "Plastic Letters" and everything else that had been released up until that time. As the 80's moved on, and Blondie released their swan song album "The Hunter" in 1983, Debbie Harry got involved in movies. She had already made "Union City" earlier in the decade, but it would be "Videodrome" that would be her first major release.
Although "Videodrome" was not very successful during its initial release in 1983, it would go on to become a cult classic. David Cronenberg's "Videodrome" remains as one of my favorite films of the 80's. It deals with a mysterious video signal being transmitted that can cause tumors in the brain that cause hallucinations and other bizarre behaviors. There is much more to it, but I don't want to reveal too much.
I have watched this movie countless times, and I can say that after every time, I have this dark, sad feeling. It is somewhat of a depressing film, yet it's very hard to stop watching. There are elements of violence, mind control, murder and corporate control in the picture. Deborah Harry is beautiful as a brunette, and portrays a talk-radio host. I love the name of her on-air show "The Emotional Rescue Show".
Shot in Toronto, Canada, the film has a grim, bleak look to it. Everything has a murky, cloudy weather look to it. Some of the special effects are convincing, others are down right disgusting. The soundtrack is very electronic, yet ominous and creepy. Even if there are many unanswered questions at the film's end, it is definitely worth watching. All of the elements, as shocking as some may be, come together perfectly for an ideal psychological/horror thriller.
The Criterion Collection DVD version is leaps and bounds better than the Universal DVD release.
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Videodrome movie poster.