Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hello, Nasties!

Back in the 1980s, I remember reading in wonderment about the censorship issues that many horror and exploitation films faced when they were released on video in the U.K. Dubbed the "Video Nasties," these films fell afoul of England's Video Recordings Act of 1984, which imposed a strict censorship code on video releases.

There were 72 films in all that were either prosecuted by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), or considered for prosecution. Since then, some of the films have either been released in cut form in the U.K., or even released uncut in some instances. But back in the 1980s, local police were empowered to raid video shops and seize any material that may have been in breach of the law. Those of us reading about this in the U.S. would typically cluck our tongues and feel privileged that, although parents groups might protest the release of Silent Night, Deadly Night, and Anthony Timpone might get raked over the coals by Morton Downey, Jr., at least we could rent Dr. Butcher, M.D., down at the local supermarket. (Thinking back on it now, though, how weird was that?)

The majority of those 72 films were either low-budget U.S. or Italian horror films, and an unlucky 13 (EDIT: Actually, 14!) were regional productions:

Axe! (North Carolina, 1974)
Blood Feast (Florida, 1963)
Blood Rites (The Ghastly Ones, New York, 1968)
Don't Go in the House (New York, 1979)
Don't Go in the Wood (Utah, 1981)
Don't Look in the Basement (Texas, 1973)
The Driller Killer (New York, 1979)
The Evil Dead (Michigan/Tennessee, 1981)
Fight for Your Life (New York, 1977)
I Spit on Your Grave (Connecticut, 1978)
The Last House on the Left (Connecticut, 1972)
Mardi Gras Massacre (Louisiana, 1978)
Snuff (New York, 1976)
Unhinged (Oregon, 1982)

Now, there's a documentary out about the whole Video Nasties controversy called Video Nasties! Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape, courtesy of director Jake West (Evil Aliens) and producer Marc Morris, which has been making the festival rounds. It includes trailers for all 72 films on the DPP list. Here's the documentary trailer:

It will be available as a 3-disc set in October.


  1. Doesn't THE GHASTLY ONES/BLOOD RITES qualify as a regional film as well?

  2. Right you are, Anonymous! I've updated the post to include the Andy Milligan film, which made the list under its UK video title, BLOOD RITES.