Tag Archives: Videodrome (1983)

Split Image: James Woods and how to do sleaze redux

It’s taken a while, but last night I concluded my James Woods festival by finally watching the 1982 film Split Image.

I won’t say what I had to do to track down a copy of this little known gem. Let’s just say it wasn’t easy. But it was worth it.

Split Image, in which Woods plays a cult deprogrammer, confirms the central thesis of my previous post on this actor, that no one does sleaze as good as Woods, especially at the height of his career in the greed is good eighties.

Split Image occupies an interesting position in the Woods oeuvre, sandwiched between Fast Walking earlier the same year (Woods as a sleazy prison guard who gets mixed up in a neo-Nazi plot to murder a radical black nationalist) and Videodrome in 1983 (Woods as sleazy soft porn cable TV producer).

The plot is relatively simple. Danny Stetson (Michael O’Keefe) is a talented but highly-strung aspiring Olympic gymnast, from a loving but over achieving family, presided over by patriarch Kevin Stetson (Brian Dennehy).

He meets fresh-faced cult devotee Rebecca (Karen Allen, who played  the love interest in two Indiana Jones films) and is sucked into visiting Homeland, an alternative community run by Kirkander (Peter Fonda). It doesn’t take long before Danny has been renamed Joshua and chanting “make it perfect” with the rest of them.… Read more

Fast Walking: James Woods and how to do sleaze

Ever since I posted on the underrated movie Cop a few months ago, I’ve been engaged in my own James Woods film festival.

As I wrote at the time, Cop is a great little neo noir that combines the rogue cop, police procedural and serial killer genres. But it works so well due to the casting of James Woods as the central character of Detective Sergeant Lloyd Hopkins, a sleazy burnt out LAPD homicide dick trying to track down a maniac no one else thinks exists.

Watching and re-watching Wood’s films only confirms his status as the original hard-boiled bad lieutenant. With his whippet thin body and bedroom eyes, his looks are more lounge lizard than movie star perfect. And his permanently up turned lip and slightly bad skin make him look like a man with a bad past.

Starting with The Onion Field (1979), in which he played a disturbed ex-con who panics one night when he and his partner are pulled over by cops and murders one of them, Woods went on to play some of the most repellent yet strangely charismatic sleazes on film.

Videodrome (1983): This early Cronenberg effort hasn’t dated in the slightest and Woods’ is in top form as sleazy soft porn cable TV producer, Max Renn.… Read more