Dante’s Weekend Double – A Dual Dose Of Horror To The Mind And Body In ‘Audition’ And ‘Videodrome’

The New Flesh - Does It Hurt
Source: Audition (1999) / Videodrome (1983)

Take One of this weekend’s blending of bodily harm comes from Japan: The grisly psychological horror movie Audition from 1999. Legendary director, Takashi Miike (Ichi: The Killer, 13 Assassins), is at the helm for this adaptation of the 1997 novel by Ryu Murakami that shows just how hellishly torturous the dating scene can be.

Audition (Omega Project/Film face)

Let’s meet Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi). He’s a widower with a son who insists that he should try to find love again, and finally bring home a new mother. With the assistance of Shigeharu’s film producer pal, a fake audition is held to help him find his matrimonial ‘Take Two.’

This makes complete sense because the smartest place to look for someone to settle down and share a life with is obviously somewhere amidst a crowd of young aspiring actors, but then one of them catches his eye.

Let’s meet Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina). She’s a former dancer with a traumatic past, and murky references that are better off not being checked. Asami enjoys needles, sharp wires, and waiting on phone calls for four days straight without ever moving. All she asks for is a man to pledge his love to her, and she will pour him a strong drink then sweep him off his feet – literally.

The first half almost tricks the viewer into thinking that they’re watching the start of a dopey RomCom, until the second half cuts them through their bones. Before the Saw and Hostel movies there was this masterwork of “torture porn” that has influenced numerous moviemaking goreheads around the world, and continues to shock audiences to this day.

Audition Callback
Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) waits by the phone in Audition (1999), Omega Project

Run over to the TUBI app to watch it now, but try not to lose your footing along the way.

Videodrome (Universal Pictures)

From one master to the next with the king of body horror himself, David Cronenberg, and his 1983 classic Videodrome. James Woods stars in this surreal tech noir as Max Renn, a seedy program director who’s desperate to find controversial programming for his Toronto UHF station.

Max Renn (James Woods) and Nicki Brand (Debbie Harry) debate degeneracy on a talk show in Videodrome (1983), Universal Pictures
Max Renn (James Woods) and Nicki Brand (Debbie Harry) debate degeneracy on a talk show in Videodrome (1983), Universal Pictures

Max’s hired tech picks up a transmission called “Videodrome” that broadcasts real acts of BDSM, torture, and murder. There is no dialogue, plot, or even the faintest trace of production value, but Max still thinks that he has found the future of television. He starts pirating the snuff films turned sitcom through his station, and it doesn’t take long before things get full ‘Cronenberg.’

Max begins to have disturbing, but also really cool, hallucinations. Then he uncovers a political movement behind Videodrome, and a conspiracy to control the minds of the masses. It’s a slower burn than the first feature but more imaginative, thought provoking, and grimly prophetic.

Max Renn starts getting physical with his TV set in Videodrome (1983), Universal Pictures
Max Renn starts getting physical with his TV set in Videodrome (1983), Universal Pictures

At the dawn of the VHS age, Cronenberg had already seen that it would create niche communities in the video market, and how consumer-grade video products would permanently alter content. He foresaw YouTube, 4Chan, and the dark web at a time when most people didn’t even own a computer.

As with several of his films, the theme is the marriage of biology with technology, and the bizarre consequences that follow. Some that lead to death, and other that lead to a dystopian nightmare. Videodrome can be found by turning your illegal satellite to the Prime Video station.

Long Live The New Flesh!

NEXT: Dante’s Weekend Double – A Journey Through Grindhouse Past With ‘The Faculty’ And ‘The Class Of Nuke ‘Em High’

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