Posted on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012 by Russ Fischer
I try to be open-minded about remakes, and maybe, somehow, I’ll get around to being slightly more open-minded about this one. But for the time being, the idea of Ehren Kruger scripting a remake of David Cronenberg‘s Videodrome for commercial director Adam Berg pretty much sucks from every angle. That’s the Ehren Kruger who wrote the last two Transformers movies, and is scripting the fourth, by the way.
Berg’s biggest calling card to date is a Phillips commercial tracking through a frozen moment in a cops and robbers shootout. See that below. A nice little piece of film, to be sure, but there was never a point during the commercial’s runtime where I thought “let this guy play with one of the most unique pieces of filmed science fiction.” But Universal has been convinced to do just that, following through on the remake idea none of us ever figured would actually happen. “Death to Videodrome,” indeed. (Serious gore at that link.)
Read a bit more about the plans for the Videodrome remake below.
Deadline reports the news, and even says that Berg’s commercial for Phillips has “an early Cronenberg-esque vibe,” which is total horseshit.
Videodrome, for those unfamiliar with Cronenberg’s picture, originally had James Woods as Max Renn, the slightly less than respectable owner of Toronto cable TV station Civic TV. Renn goes looking for edgy programming and finds it in Videodrome, a “show” of questionable origin that depicts only torture and murder. Renn covets the show for his station, but learns that there is a bit more to Videodrome than seems to be the case. The film dives into subjective realities, mind control through media, and broader questions of what effects our modern habits of consumption really have.
Deadline says Kruger’s idea is to “modernize the concept, infusing it with the possibilities of nano-technology and blow it up into a large-scale sci-fi action thriller.” That’s the line that’s been thrown around for years with respect to Kruger’s re-do. I gagged when it debuted in 2009, and I gag now.
That’s not even to say that Videodrome is a flawless work. The ending is,well, not to all tastes, and arguably left more viewers deeply confused than it did anything else. But Videodrome is powerful and amazingly prescient. No matter how outdated some of the technological particulars may be (VHS tapes, for instance), the ideas about information transmission and the power of media were way ahead of the curve. (And the effects, are prime early ’80s practical magic.)
The weird thing here is that Videodrome didn’t do well at all when originally released, and remains mostly a cult hit. The title doesn’t have anything close to the popular cachet of something like Total Recall. In fact, the prime audience that will notice the remake is the audience primed to hate it from moment one. So what is Universal thinking here?
Here’s Berg’s commercial: