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April 21, 2008 2:38 AM   Subscribe

The Video Nasty Project seeks to watch and review all 74 "video nasties" effectively banned in the UK in the 1980s in a moral panic over the subversive new video cassette technology. 39 videos were successfully prosecuted, initally under the Obscene Publications Act 1959, then the Video Recordings Act 1984.
posted by TheophileEscargot (56 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
They will find that the vast majority are in fact terrible films, and should have been banned, not for their violent content, but for their complete lack of artistic merit.
posted by bap98189 at 3:10 AM on April 21, 2008


Dead & Buried, Evil Dead, Tenebrae....there's some good stuff in there.
posted by oh pollo! at 3:53 AM on April 21, 2008


So, have we got a video?
posted by thanotopsis at 4:03 AM on April 21, 2008 [14 favorites]


How many killings?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:39 AM on April 21, 2008


Another example of the nanny state. You guys over in Britain really need something like the First Amendment. This crap just takes on a life of its own in politics. No one really wants to go on record as endorsing these crappy films and their uber-violence, especially when the anti crowd is so vocal. So to protect themselves politically they will take away a little bit of your freedom.
posted by caddis at 4:45 AM on April 21, 2008


Driler Killer is actually a pretty funny film. I was running art galleries back in New York first time I saw the movie and it seemed to catch the "desperate artist" stereotype pretty well.

It seems that most of these movies are available at smaller video stores uncut anway, and in Region Two no less.

Thanks for this post; none of my friends back in The States still believe "Banned in Britain" is still possible.
posted by Mutant at 4:54 AM on April 21, 2008


This is a pretty awesome plot summary:
Waldemar Daninsky goes to Tibet to look for proof that the yeti exists. He gets captured by two vampire women who turn him into a werewolf. Waldemar's friends are then kidnapped by a witch, and later, he fights a yeti.
I think what catches my eye there is that "later, he fights a yeti" could be appended to many films' descriptions, entirely to their benefit.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:03 AM on April 21, 2008 [10 favorites]


Another example of the nanny state. You guys over in Britain really need something like the First Amendment.

"Nanny state" is a bad, useless phrase. Any time the state forbids something that you want to do: it's the nanny state. Any time the state permits something that you think should be forbidden: it's "moral decay", "indecent" or "lawless".

Let's use more informative descriptions. The "video nasty" is a surprisingly complex story, a mix of moral panic, inadequate legislation, inconsistent and biased police enforcement, prominent morality campaigners, industry pressure and new technologies. The wikipedia page has a good rundown. Given that there are certainly things that we would have banned (say, videos promoting genocide, or featuring paedophilia), it's unsurprisingly that more than 20 years later, we have the easy luxury of saying they got it wrong.

Granted, there are problems with the UK lacking an explicit (uncodified) constitution and bill of rights (post 1700). But having been around for so long and served as the basis for every other Western democracy, the attitude "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is understandable.
posted by outlier at 5:06 AM on April 21, 2008 [10 favorites]


They will find that the vast majority are in fact terrible films, and should have been banned, not for their violent content, but for their complete lack of artistic merit.

That's what they said in America about "Deep Throat", but they banned it for its content anyway. Interesting the focus on violence in Britain. The Islanders seem to know they have a problem with it.

(What does that say about America's obsession with sexual content?)
posted by three blind mice at 5:19 AM on April 21, 2008


thanotopsis, YES WE'VE GOT A VIDEO!
posted by threeze at 5:23 AM on April 21, 2008


The "video nasty" is a surprisingly complex story, a mix of moral panic, inadequate legislation, inconsistent and biased police enforcement, prominent morality campaigners, industry pressure and new technologies. The wikipedia page has a good rundown. Given that there are certainly things that we would have banned (say, videos promoting genocide, or featuring paedophilia), it's unsurprisingly that more than 20 years later, we have the easy luxury of saying they got it wrong.

Why should any of it be banned? It's the banning that is the problem.
posted by caddis at 5:24 AM on April 21, 2008


We're getting off thread here, but as an American living in the UK for eleven years now, I'd argue individuals have more personal freedom in Europe than in the United States.

After all, no European citizen has to get permission from a DHS-like entity to leave - let alone move about within their own country - but somehow Americans are letting Secure Flight become reality. Wanna fly from New York to Boston? Only if DHS' system says you can. Under Secure Flight, everyone is on that No Fly List by default.

Another interesting example: The US doesn't have a a single law that protects personal information, the equivalent of the UK's Data Protection Act.

Your personal information in the US? You don't own it. The corporation that collected it does. And they'll use it, sell it, trade it as they see fit. You don't have a single legislative remedy; just a hodge-podge of local and state laws that are more reflective of the Wild West than a civlised, information driven economy.

Yeh, most Americans seem to think they enjoy more personal freedom than in other countries. So did I before I moved to Europe.
posted by Mutant at 5:34 AM on April 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


No, seriously guys, do we have a video?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:48 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am not arguing that the US has more, just more when it comes to speech. Don't even get me started on restrictions in the UK press and the libel laws. Somehow, for all our repression of other here in the States, we have managed to hold onto freedom of speech pretty well. You are absolutely right about privacy though, it is so bad as to almost be a lost cause and what with that being the basis for Roe v. Wade, it is all but impossible to get any change for reasons completely unrelated to privacy itself.
posted by caddis at 5:52 AM on April 21, 2008


Yeh, most Americans seem to think they enjoy more personal freedom than in other countries.

Okay, so tell me again about the hash bars.

It's a complicated thing Mutant. I immigrated to Sweden from America over a decade ago so I kinda know what you mean, but I also see that there is a difference between European "permissiveness" and American "freedom." One is not better (or more civilised) than the other, only different.

Yes, I cannot see bare female breasts in the city parks in America, but the fact I cannot buy booze in the grocery store or anywhere on Sunday in Sweden is a crime against human freedom and dignity which I can never fully embrace.
posted by three blind mice at 5:53 AM on April 21, 2008


Yes, we've got a bloody video.
posted by punilux at 6:01 AM on April 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am not arguing that the US has more, just more when it comes to speech.

So why did I see an advertisement on Dutch TV last week for "The Best Fucking Pizza there is"? Me personally, I can live with a ban on Holocaust denial and speech inhibiting laws against promoting Nazism. It's the capricious censorship of language and expression (for the chidrens sake) in the United States I could do without.
posted by three blind mice at 6:06 AM on April 21, 2008


the fact I cannot buy booze in the grocery store or anywhere on Sunday in Sweden is a crime against human freedom and dignity which I can never fully embrace.

Aren't there about 20 US states with the same restriction?
posted by Drexen at 6:13 AM on April 21, 2008


To be fair, you can never buy booze in a swedish grocery store. Except for folköl. :)

/derail

posted by soundofsuburbia at 6:34 AM on April 21, 2008


Breasts > booze.

That is all.
posted by flabdablet at 6:35 AM on April 21, 2008


Huh. I remember watching an episode of the Young Ones that featured a video nasty, but I didn't know there was an actual list... just thought it was a generic term for slasher film in Britain.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:00 AM on April 21, 2008


three blind mice -- "Okay, so tell me again about the hash bars."

In England? I don't believe they prosecute for small amounts of the substance any longer (someone else?) but if there are now Dutch style coffee shops here I've missed the news.


"One is not better (or more civilised) than the other, only different. "

You're absolutely correct of course; poor choise of words on my part. I guess it all boils down to what's important. For me, I just wanna be left alone, and at this point in time, Europe seems the best place for me to live as I'd like to. Privately.

I don't believe most Americans realise just how far to the right The United States has drifted. Not that Europe hasn't moved somewhat in that direction as well, but its my gut feeling is not as far to the right as America. The lack of protest and what seems to be resignated acceptance of restrictions in internal movements by US Citizens & residents ("Secure Flight") seems to support this view.
posted by Mutant at 7:18 AM on April 21, 2008


Put it down! That's worth 500 pounds! I'm minding it for Harry the Bastard!
posted by porn in the woods at 7:21 AM on April 21, 2008


I have that bit from The Young Ones at home. I'll try to slap it up on teh 'tube when I get home from work.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:54 AM on April 21, 2008


i spit on your post : )

video nasty is the best phrase ever.

I know the plot of half these films after hearing them discussed in the playground, you were the man if you'd seen one.
Guy at school had them all and his dad fixed fruit machines for a living - he was like a living god in our presence : )
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:58 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, have we got a video?

(If one more persons asks me....)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:20 AM on April 21, 2008


Yes, I cannot see bare female breasts in the city parks in America, but the fact I cannot buy booze in the grocery store or anywhere on Sunday in Sweden is a crime against human freedom and dignity which I can never fully embrace.

Can't do that in Indiana, either.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:35 AM on April 21, 2008


Metafilter: Later, we fight a yeti
posted by tommasz at 8:47 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can't do that in Indiana, either.

Or Washington state. We have a state-owned cartel of liquor stores, which are about as charming as you imagine them being (they all bring Soviet levels of class, presentation and service to the business).

There is no way at this late date that lucrative outlet is going away.
posted by maxwelton at 9:07 AM on April 21, 2008


I think what catches my eye there is that "later, he fights a yeti" could be appended to many films' descriptions, entirely to their benefit.

...A treasure hunter seeks for a diamond in the ruins of the Titanic. He finds a painting of a beautiful woman wearing the diamond which connect him with Rose Dawson, an old woman claiming to be the woman in the painting. She tells her story, about the sinking of the Titanic. She tells how she was a 17 years old girl, and how she fall in love with a poor man named Jack Dawson. She describes, by flashbacks, her journey from Southhempton to New York, the time she spent aboard the "unsinkable ship", and the last hours of the Titanic. Later, she fights a yeti.*

...Deckard is a Blade Runner, a police man of the future who hunts down and terminates replicants, artificially created humans. He wants to get out of the force, but is drawn back in when 4 "skin jobs", a slang term for replicants, hijack a ship back to Earth, and later, he fights a yeti.*

...A young farmboy named Luke Skywalker suddenly finds himself assisting the rebels in their mission to destroy the evil Empire's ultimate weapon, the Death Star. Under the tutelege of one of the last jedi knights, Luke discovers that his father was a jedi, and that he, too, is able to channel the force -- a power he uses to destroy the Death Star. Later, he fights a yeti.

Actually, that last one's kind of true.

*credit to imdb
posted by pardonyou? at 9:16 AM on April 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sensitive study of a headstrong high school football star who dreams of getting out of his small Western Pennsylvania steel town with a football scholarship. His equally ambitious coach aims at a college position, resulting in a clash which could crush the player's dreams. Later, he fights a yeti.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:28 AM on April 21, 2008


Dirty Harry is cop with his own moral code and a very big gun. But he may be the only thing that can save the city of San Francisco from a psychotic mass murderer. Later, he fights a yeti.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:46 AM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]




Just pointing out that, even by "conventional" standards, there are actually some pretty good films on that list. And one that's missing: Didn't The Exorcist used to be banned in the UK, too?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:56 AM on April 21, 2008


Driler Killer is actually a pretty funny film. I was running art galleries back in New York first time I saw the movie and it seemed to catch the "desperate artist" stereotype pretty well.

I sought it out some time ago on the strength of its infamous reputation, and found it to be totally boring and completely cheesy even by horror film standards. I guess I expected it to be shocking. I don't know, maybe it was in the late 70s to someone who had never seen any Italian horror.

Speaking of which, why Tenebrae? It's not even the most gory Argento film. Suspiria and Deep Red are much "worse". They do, however, have a good chunk of Lucio Fulci's output, including Zombi 2, House By The Cemetery, and one of my all-time favorite horror films, The Beyond.

The whole list seems pretty arbitrary. I understand movies like I Spit On Your Grave and the Cannibal flicks, which really have no redeeming qualities (although everyone should see the scene in... Ferox, I think? where a cannibal eats a man's nuts raw), but stuff like Evil Dead isn't in the same category. They even have Herschell Gordon Lewis' Blood Feast on there, which they must have picked without even watching based on its title, because it's completely tame by today's standards.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:18 AM on April 21, 2008


Speaking of which, why Tenebrae? It's not even the most gory Argento film. Suspiria and Deep Red are much "worse".

It kinda depends on which Tenebrae. I know the last reel saw a lot of editing, once upon a time. I expect that the version that first showed in the US would have been okay.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:21 AM on April 21, 2008


Anyone got a link to Skinny Puppy's "Warlock" video? A bunch of the 'nasty' scenes are in there.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:21 AM on April 21, 2008


It kinda depends on which Tenebrae. I know the last reel saw a lot of editing, once upon a time. I expect that the version that first showed in the US would have been okay.

I'm pretty sure the version I have is Argento's original cut. Yeah, it has all the giallo mainstays: black gloves and razors and lots of blood and gore, but by Italian standards, I've seen worse.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:28 AM on April 21, 2008


I'm pretty sure the version I have is Argento's original cut. Yeah, it has all the giallo mainstays: black gloves and razors and lots of blood and gore, but by Italian standards, I've seen worse.

I think the original cut is the only one that ever made it to DVD, so it's almost certain that's the one you have. It's the big bloodbath at the end that freaked out the censors. And, of course, Argento responded to said freakout by making Phenomena about a million times more gruesome (and the butchered US theatrical cut of that, which is evidently out of copyright, can still be found in better drug stores for like a dollar, under the title Creepers).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:35 AM on April 21, 2008


Also, the most gruesome Italian stuff from the 70s was mostly never released outside of Italy. There's a compilation DVD that one of the harsh noise labels distributes (I think it's THE RITA's label, Militant Walls) called "Black Gloves and Razors" which would make all but the most desensitized horror degenerate wet themselves. It's an hour and a half of just the murder scenes from a shitload of Italian import VHS tapes. If you ever find it in someone's DVD collection, be wary of that person.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:43 AM on April 21, 2008


A rule bound head butler's world of manners and decorum in the household he maintains is tested by the arrival of a housekeeper who falls in love with him in post-WWI Britain. The possibility of romance and his master's cultivation of ties with the Nazi cause challenge his carefully maintained veneer of servitude. Later, he fights a yeti.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:53 AM on April 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's the perfect voice-over-movie-trailer formula...start with "In a world gone mad..." and end with "Later, he fights a yeti."
posted by maxwelton at 12:32 PM on April 21, 2008




Didn't The Exorcist used to be banned in the UK, too?

Yes until fairly recently in fact (I remember making a special trip to the cinema). This was after a certain notorious head of the BBFC retired. But fair enough, because if a child saw that film then obviously, they could go mad and die.

Anything involving sexual violence was usually verboten... I think blood on breasts was an automatic ban/cut.

And for a long time all depictions of certain martial arts weapons were cut... like the nunchuck scenes in Enter The Dragon. Hilariously this included the cutting out of a string of sausages being used as a pretend weapon in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Film. Yes in Britain we banned sausages.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:16 PM on April 21, 2008


Hmm. In Washington state if you want to buy hard booze you have to go to a special, ultra-grim looking state-run store that’s like something out of Soviet Russia, bar owners are ultra paranoid about licensing laws and freak the fuck out should you and your infant wander into a proscribed boozy area, and if you even think about drinking anywhere outside you’ll get busted by power-tripping cops. Maybe it’s different elsewhere, but boozelaws do not seem like a good example of American “freedom”.

BTW, Americans in conversation with people from other countries? Maybe if you gave it a rest about how “free” you are people might dislike you slightly less, you utter bores.
posted by Artw at 4:16 PM on April 21, 2008


Artw- I've been told it is because our state liquor board is voted in for life, there are still a good bunch of teetotalers on the board, and the state makes too much money on the resale of liquor. There is a lawsuit that has been won, on account of costco, that would allow resellers to purchase beer directly from the brewers instead of having to purchase it from a distributor. This was the result because Costco wanted to be able to drive their own trucks up to Red Hook and load up the truck and then sell it in their warehouses. Before they had to pay a distributor to pickup the booze for them, and drive it for them, pretty much cutting out any margin they would get for selling local beer instead of the macro stuff.

This was the story told to me by a red hook employee, who later fights a yeti.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:28 PM on April 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe it’s different elsewhere, but boozelaws do not seem like a good example of American “freedom”.

Canada is the same. In my neighbourhood, the government liquor store closes at seven o'clock on Friday and Saturday nights, and is closed on Sunday. Generally, the last thing BC government liquor stores think about are the customers.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:36 PM on April 21, 2008


One benefit of Socialist Liquor Laws is:

Searchable, State Wide, Store Inventory!

Find that booze you need for the night, and find the store that has it!
posted by mrzarquon at 8:02 PM on April 21, 2008


There's not a single store in Washington that has Gosling's Old Rum in stock. This is a crime against humanity.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:27 AM on April 22, 2008


They do have black seal 151 though.

So maybe its a lesser crime against humanity. Like disco or polyester.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:39 AM on April 22, 2008


Hey now -- what happened to a discussion of the MOVIES on that Video Nasty list?

Enough with the state Blue Laws and the Yeti -- I just watched 'Dead & Buried' and despite it's rough start, I was fairly impressed. Then again, I'm already a fan of Dan O'Bannon, given that I number 'Alien' as one of my favorite movies of all time and 'Lifeforce' as one of my all-time fave guilty plesures, nekkid space-vampires and all that...

Like a good few late '80's-mid-'90's John Carpenter flicks, there are a few good ideas in 'Dead & Buried' that could be reworked to greater overall effect than the standard, pointless WB-style remakes of established classics like 'The Fog', 'Prom Night', 'The Hitcher', 'The Manchurian Candidate' and 'The Stepford Wives'.

After all, it'd also be cheaper to pay some hack or unknown to license and rewrite some old turkey, than to rescucitate some played-out old movie like 'Black Christmas' and remake it with A-List talent.
posted by vhsiv at 10:40 AM on April 22, 2008


pleasures
posted by vhsiv at 10:42 AM on April 22, 2008


Woo. Turns out Lifeforce was absed on a Colin Wilson book (he hates it). Always fun seeing Patrick Stewart in things.
posted by Artw at 11:00 AM on April 22, 2008


Lifeforce may be based on 'The Space Vampires', but the final product is equally, if not more in debt to 'Quatermass and the Pit' (1967) and similarly-styled Hammer genre flicks.

Neither 'Liforece' or 'The Legend of Hell House' (1973) are on that list, but there are numerous reasons that both of them should be there.
posted by vhsiv at 11:15 AM on April 22, 2008


I was watching one of my childhood favorite Doctor Who stories the other day – Image of The Fendahl, and crikey, it was a pretty blatant rip-off of Quatermass. Apparently the subject of Doctor Who used to make Nigel Kneale quite angry, I can see why.
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on April 22, 2008


Always fun seeing Patrick Stewart have all the blood ejected from his body to form an evil naked vampire woman in things.

Fixed that for me.

I just bought Tenebrae today, though I could only find the awesomely-named US version Unsane. That and The Beyond are among my favorite schlock horror. I have a problem with specific types of gore and violence (knife violence, sword violence, eye gouging, entrail vomiting, throat slitting, vigorous poking) so I've actually only seen the corner of the screen for those films and many others on the list. I watched The House By The Cemetery peeking out from behind a blanket with alternating eyes, with the effect that my vision was completely ruined for the rest of the evening.
posted by Locative at 12:04 AM on April 23, 2008


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