Videodrome

David Cronenberg’s seminal head trip ranks among the great explorations into technology, the media, and the human body. Smut-peddling Toronto TV exec Max Renn (James Woods), always on the prowl for new, controversy-arousing programming, is recommended a mysterious broadcast by a colleague, apparently issuing from Malaysia, in which anonymous victims are tortured and murdered. Renn is instantly intrigued by the snuff show and begins putting it on air himself, exalting in the resultant public furor; but, just as quickly, his reality mutates into a televisual nightmare, marked by some of Cronenberg’s most iconic feats of body-horror. J. Hoberman writes: “Cronenberg suggests that television changed everything, even our brain functions and hence our understanding of the world.”

Playing in a 2-for-1 double feature with The King of Comedy on August 24 and 31.