Sunday, 14 February 2016

Reading Videodrome

“It has a title now, by the way,” called Harlan.
Max stopped in his tracks.
“It’s supered for a few seconds at the end of this transmission. No credits. Just one word. VIDEODROME.”

More novelization reading and this weekend it was the turn of Dennis Etchison's adaptation of David Cronenberg's Videodrome screenplay. I was particularly keen to read this novel (written under Etchison's Jack Martin pseudonym) on foot of the interview with the author on Arrow's Videodrome Blu-Ray, and was surprised to discover the novel pretty much sticks to the same narrative trajectory as the film despite the numerous revisions the screenplay underwent. Still, there are some surprises. The novel opens with Max Renn awaking from a dream where he is about to be ritually executed, and there are special effects set pieces that fell by the wayside where Cronenberg's ideas perhaps outran Rick Baker's wizardry - at one point a television in a store window smashes thru the glass and slithers across the sidewalk to deliver Max a warning message from Brian O'Blivion. Still, Etchison's writing is vivid and powerful - his Max Renn is often a more engaging character than Cronenberg's, the novel frequently switching to Renn's own perspective to chart his increasingly perilous state from the Videodrome mutation, and in this respect neatly anticipates Seth Brundle's decline in The Fly. Recommended reading.

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