October 29, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

The one really unusual thing about Sliver’s video-surveillanceplot is that, given the prevalence of video in American life over thepast decade, Hollywood didn’t come up with it years ago. Not countingschlocky throwaways like 1987’s The Video Dead (which, fittingly, wasa video-only release), only a handful of films have includedvideo-usually videotaping-as part of their story line.*Death Watch (1980, Sultan Entertainment) In this paranoid,futuristic thriller from director Bertrand Tavernier, there’s a videocamera in star Harvey Keitel’s brain-the better to document the deathof costar Romy Schneider. A disturbing and prescient film that takes”reality TV” to its most distasteful extreme. B+

*Videodrome (1983, MCA/Universal) A sleazebag (James Woods)stumbles upon some really sick porno from a satellite feed, startinga process that eventually turns him into a human VCR. DavidCronenberg’s twisted flick may not have the most linear of plotlines,but it is a provocative, albeit gruesome, trip. B+

*Strange Brew (1983, MGM/UA) In these adventures, Canadiandunderheads Bob and Doug McKenzie (SCTV’s Rick Moranis and DaveThomas) play a video-surveillance angle for laughs. Funniest line, inthe film’s climactic scene: ”That’s a time , code-that’s very hard tofake.” (Rent the film: You have to be there.) B

*Sex, Lies And Videotape (1989, Columbia TriStar) Director StevenSoderbergh’s vaunted feature debut stars James Spader as a drifterwho uses his nifty 8 mm camcorder to tape the sexual confessions ofthe women he meets. A mite precious, it’s still an interesting lookat alienation, media-age-style. B

*Trespass (1992, MCA/Universal) Walter Hill’s gang-bangers sagatries for some Rodney King resonance by including a character namedVideo who’s constantly taping. Too bad the action itself isn’t muchto watch. C

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