Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Let's Go to the Videotape

On the DVD commentary for his 1983 film Videodrome, David Cronenberg (left) notes that he used the dying format Betamax for the pulsating tapes that a hallucinating James Woods (right) inserts into that gaping wound in his abdomen. Betamax tapes were quite a bit smaller than VHS, making them much more comfortable to slip inside your gut. If Cronenberg had waited fifteen years to make his movie, he could have used DVDs, and Jimmy Woods wouldn't have needed more than a little slit in his tummy.

Cronenberg also mentions that Woods was deathly paranoid about the hallucination-recording helmet that sinister eyeglass dealer Barry Convex (as brilliant as Cronenberg is, you wish he would enlist someone to help him with the names he comes up with; in addition to a lensmaker named Convex, he's also got a professor named Brian O'Blivion) has him wear. In fact, Woods refused to put it on that primordial virtual-reality headpiece at all, so in the scenes where you think you're seeing him wearing the helmet, you're actually seeing David Cronenberg himself. At least it was good practice for his cameo as the obstetrician delivering Geena Davis' ten-pound maggot in The Fly.

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