The infamous Video Nasties! A long story short, back in the early 80’s the home video market exploded in the UK. With no certification of any sort for video releases it meant that any and every video distributor could release whatever they wanted to anyone who wanted to buy or rent them. This was of course a big problem with all the violent, gory horror films hitting the shelves. Soon there was widespread moral panic with authorities stepping in to put a stop to this influx of such titles as Cannibal Holocaust, Driller Killer and I Spit on Your Grave. The people in power were worried that soon the nation would be full of whacked out serial killers warped by these deranged films and children would become infected by the gory violence they could easily rent or buy alongside Bambi. So the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) decided to start prosecuting distributors under an old law called the Obscene Publications Act (OPA) in order to get them banned or heavily cut. This prospect proved to be hugely confusing to the video distributors and those selling these types of films in their shops. With an array of varying opinions the authorities would step in and search for videos thought to be in direct breach of the OPA. In 1983, to save the police the trouble and the cost in overtime of watching the seized material, the DPP drew up a list of 72 films that they suspected might be in breach of the OPA and therefore be most successful in prosecution. These 72 titles became to be known as the ‘Video Nasties’ a name coined by the press who had been heavily orchestrating their own campaign against the films. Only 39 films were successfully prosecuted and surprisingly one that didn’t even make the list was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, still considered today to be one of the original ‘Video Nasties’ due to being banned for screening in cinemas upon it’s release in the UK in 1975.
With the media intensifying their coverage of ‘Video Nasties’, a chap by the name of Graham Bright, a Conservative MP, was busy joining the dots in his plan to regulate the video industry for good. “Mutilations of bodies. Cannibalism. Gang rape. That is what a video nasty is” Said Graham Bright, who introduced the Video Recordings Act in 1984. It meant that all video recordings available for sale or rental had to be scrutinised and age certificated by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) who were appointed the role shortly after the Video Recordings Act was passed. The BBFC working alongside the DPP would establish if any of these nasties could be successfully prosecuted under the OPA, which up until that time had only been applied mostly to pornography distribution. In a nutshell, if the BBFC hadn’t viewed and classified a video recording then it is was deemed illegal to sell or distribute. The ‘War on Video’ against the video distributors had begun, with police raids taking place up and down the country. If you were found to be distributing titles such as Death Trap, Cannibal Holocaust, Trauma or any of the other films on the list then you may well have found yourself in the court room, slapped with a hefty fine or worst still doing stint in a prison cell.
Although at the time it became hard to find these films, the list of 72 films would now be considered by horror fans the mecca of the genre and the best of the best for scares. The truth of the hysteria is that these films were mostly pretty rubbish with only a few celebrated nasties becoming cult classics today.
We’ve compiled the list below with trailers to help you make your mind up whether to give it a watch or give it a miss. Of course if you are easily offended you may wish to look away now!
1. Absurd (1981)
Also known as – Horrible / Monster Hunter / Rosso Sangue / Zombi 6 /Anthropophagous II
2. Flesh for Frankenstien (1973)
Also known as – Andy Warhol’s Frankenstien / Il Mostro E In Tavola / Barone Frankenstien
3. Anthropophagous : The Beast (1980)
Also known as – Antropohagus / The Grim Reaper / Antropohagus ; The Beast / Zombi 7
4. Blood Feast (1963)
5. The Ghastly Ones (1968)
Also known as – Blood Rites
6. Bloody Moon (1981)
Also known as – Pro Fonde Tenebre / Colegialas Violadas
7. The Burning (1981)
8. Cannibal in the Streets (1980)
Also known as – Cannibal Apocalypse / Invasion of the Flesh Eaters
9. Cannibal Ferox (1981)
Also known as – Make the Die Slowly / Woman from Deep River