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Adam Berg Sets Out to Direct “Videodrome” Remake

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James Woods

James Woods in Videodrome – Image from – Nerds on the Rocks

Universal Studios announced on August 23rd that the remake of David Cronenberg’s 1983 body horror classic Videodrome will be helmed by renowned commercial director Adam Berg. Berg is yet to direct a feature, but he has directed countless commercials and music videos — the most famous of which is the Philips Carousel commercial, for which he won the Film Gran Prix at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, the most prestigious award in the advertising industry. In spite of that, Berg may be way in over his head here since the original Videodrome is considered to be one of the greatest body horror films ever.

David Cronenberg, who wrote and directed the original Videodrome, used to be the king of the body horror genre in the late 70s and throughout the 80s. His films were so gruesome, gory, and downright disgusting that many critics have collectively nicknamed him the Baron of Blood. Cronenberg’s most famous entries in the genre include The Fly (1986), eXistenZ (1999), and of course Videodrome (1983).

But besides being incredibly frightening, Cronenberg’s body horror films were also very poignant — they were driven by characters as opposed to special effects and tended to explore topical issues. Videodrome, for instance, was a visually-compelling look into the media’s obsession with violence and the effects of television and other media technologies on the human brain. The film utilized ground-breaking (at the time) special effects and camera tricks to reflect the confused state of the protagonist’s (played by James Woods) mind. As the protagonist slowly loses his grip on reality, the film becomes more and more grotesquely surrealist and horrific — nowhere else will you see a man’s stomach open up to swallow a videotape. It was a masterful blend of mesmerizing special effects and brilliant storytelling.

It does seem like the Videodrome remake has potential to be even more topical than its 80s counterpart — since smartphones, laptops, and the Internet have made people even more dependent on media technologies. But will the remake dare to explore the issue in a satisfying manner? We are better off to remain sceptical on this one since the screenplay will be penned by Ehren Kruger, one of the writers of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and a host of other mindless Hollywood blockbusters. Kruger seems to prefer writing films that are “safe” and refuse to push the envelope — which would be detrimental to a film that is meant to be as provocative as Videodrome.

As for Berg, there is not much to say here as he is yet to prove himself. Cronenberg’s film was visually stunning, so it would be hard to match. His Philips Carousel commercial was impressive on the technical level, so we can at least expect a well-polished and visually-appealing film. For those interested in Berg’s commercial, it can be viewed right here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ3D4CqHbJM.

For now, it looks like the new version of Videodrome will be like every other horror remake — technically sound on the outside, but utterly shallow on the inside.

 

By: Taras Trofimov


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