Let’s get NASTY

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Lets face it, the UK is full of odd people. Understand that I mean that in the most loving way, but I mean every word of it. For example, they have topless models on page 3 of their newspapers, yet have a long history of heavy handed film censorship and regulation. See? Utterly mad, as those Brits would say. It was because of this very practice that a list of 72 films gained instant cult status, not so much for their content, but because they were deemed too Obscene to be viewed by the public!

Back in the 1970s, when home video players/recorders first came on the UK market, there was no specific legislation to regulate video content, except for the out of date Obscene Publications Act of 1959. It was a fear of Piracy that prevented most of the major film distributors from embracing this new technology right away, prompting the market to be flooded with low budget fare. We all know the type, films that look and sound like utter garbage, often unintentionally hilarious and over the top. Italy and Spain already had a history of producing many controversial low budget films, and these would play a huge part in Video Nasty History.

The British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) had the ability to “certify” films for Theatrical release, which would allow them to be screened with a classification from their rating system. “X” was the most extreme rating they would give, meaning nobody under the age of 16 would be admitted. If a film was deemed to be obscene, it was refused certification. The only hope for it to be seen in England would be on the home video market.

The Obscene Publications Act defined Obscenity as: “That which may tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it”. Now, this leaves a lot of room for interpretation and was subject to the final say-so of one man. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had the power to determine if a film was in breach of the act. If so, a prosecution could be brought against the films producers, distributors, and retailers. What happens when you tell someone “You can’t do that”? They will trip over themselves while running to do that very forbidden thing. Deeming these films as “Obscenity” and restricting their availability only served the strengthen their allure and made demand for them go through the roof. Retailers couldn’t keep them in stock. Not only because the punters (lookit me using that English lingo, a wot wot?) would snatch them up quickly, but because the Police would raid the shops and seize the tapes. What?

Yes, the Bobbys were empowered to raid “video hire shops” and seize any material they suspected of being obscene. Once a film was seized, a prosecution was begun. Only a few films were successfully prosecuted, and a back log soon built up. Different municipalities had full discretion to seize any title they felt could be obscene, and as a result several films with misleading box art, or titles were seized. I’d wager any money that “The Best little Whore House in Texas” was seized each and every time. In the early 80’s, the Greater Manchester Police were noted for the increasing frequency of their raids to the Video Shops. This is because Cheif Constable James Aderton, a devout Christian advised his squads to seize not only the usual suspects, but many films that were unfairly judged to be obscene. The Video Retailers Association was alarmed at the high number of film retailers who didn’t even stock any “Nasty” films were raided and threatened with prosecution, so they asked that a list be provided of titles likely to be seized, and thus was born the DPP List.

The BBFC had far stricter regulations for films intended for public screening. Sometimes making recommendations, or in more extreme cases, demands for cuts to be made to certain films, as well as limitations as to whether certain cinemas were able to screen certain films. I suppose this was done in an effort to “limit the spread of filth”. This led to several theaters in areas not able to show films such as The Exorcist arranged bus transport for patrons to travel to municipalities that were able to screen it. How fucking cool would that be? Going on a Field trip late at night to see a Horror film so scary that the government tried to suppress it? I mean, sure…you’d go to a lot of trouble, but c’mon, that sounds like a cool way to spend the evening.

Public awareness of the DPP list began in 1982 when the UK distributor for The Driller Killer, took out full page advertisements in specialist video magazines showing the films cover, drawing several complaints from tight-asses, but whetting the appetite of the rest of us. The distributors of Cannibal Holocaust tried to use “bad publicity” in their favor by sending an anonymous complaint to the National Viewers and Listeners Association. That one backfired a bit, as the NVLA started a public campaign against the film and others of it’s kind, coining the term “Video Nasty”

Soon the Sunday times ran an article entitled “How High Street Horror is Invading The Home”, and the exposure of children to these films became a buzz topic and was even blamed for violence in youths (sound familiar?). On the other side of the fence, a formal publication of the DPP list served as a shopping list for underground video collectors as the Media frenzy ensured that more and more people were clamoring for these titles.

1984 saw the Video Recording Act come to pass, and Brittish Board of Film Censors became the Brittish Board of Film Classification. They became solely responsible for the certification of cinema and video releases, thus eliminating the need for the DPP List. All video releases after Sept 1 1985 had to comply with the act and be submitted for classification by the BBFC, but anything released before that date had to be re-classified within the following three years. Films that passed in cinema uncut were often cut for home release for fear of them “falling into the hands of children”. Supplying unclassified videos became a criminal offence, as did supplying 15 and 18 certificate videos to anyone under age. I think we can all agree that shit had by now officially become ridiculous. Distributors of some films simply opted to remove themselves from the market rather than submit for classification. Why play their game, when you know the film will only pass if it is cut to shit? The Exorcist was one of these films, while Straw Dogs was outright refused certification. With the passage of time, attitudes (and sphincters) had relaxed greatly at the BBFC and many of the films on the DPP list were eventually released uncut. A major contribution to this turn around was the departure of James Furman. After he left in 1999, nearly all titles were re-examined and re-classed. Even today, with greatly relaxed standards, the BBFC still demanded 49 individual cuts, resulting in 4 minutes 11 seconds of film time being cut from A Serbian Film, and refusing classification altogether to The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence.

Now, what will follow in my periodic updates of this column, is a review and discussion of each and every film on the DPP Video Nasty List! Each review will include a bit of the prosecution history of each film as well. I should also mention a curious fact i discovered while researching these films… Most of the European made films have multiple titles for international release so if you are looking for any one of the following films and can’t find it, it couldn’t hurt to check IMDB or wikipedia for any alternate titles.

1. Absurd

2. Antropophagus

3. Axe

4. The Beast In Heat

5. The Beyond

6. A Bay of Blood

7. Blood Feast

8. The Ghastly Ones

9. Bloody Moon

10. The Boogeyman(1980)

11. The Burning

12. Cannibal Apocalypse

13. Cannibal Ferox

14. Cannibal Holocaust

15. Cannibal Man

16. Cannibal Terror

17. Contamination

18. Dead and Buried

19. Eaten Alive

20. Man from Deep River

21. Delirium

22. Devil Hunter

23. Don’t go in the House

24. Don’t go In the Woods

25. Don’t go near the Park

26. Don’t look in the Basement

27. The Driller Killer

28. The Evil Dead

29. Evilspeak

30. The House of Straw

31. Faces of Death

32. Fight For Your Life

33. Flesh for Frankenstein

34. Toxic Zombies

35. Frozen Scream

36. The Funhouse

37. Gestapo’s Last Orgy

38. The house by the Cemetary

39. The House On The Edge Of The Park

40. Human Experiments

41. I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses

42. I Spit On Your Grave

43. Inferno

44. Island of Death

45. Killer Nun

46. The Last House On The Left

47. Night Train Murders

48. Living Dead At Manchester Morgue

49. Love Camp 7

50. There Was A Little Girl

51. Mardi Gras Massacre

52. Night Of The Bloody Apes

53. Night Of The Demon

54. Night Warning

55. Nightmare

56. Possession

57. The Dorm That Dripped Blood

58. Mountain of the Cannibal God

59. Revenge of the Boogeyman

60. The Slayer

61. Snuff

62. SS Experiment Love Camp

63. Tenebrae

64. Night School

65. The Toolbox Murders

66. Unhinged

67. Visiting Hours

68. The Werewolf and the Yeti

69. The Witch Who Came From The Sea

70. Women Behind Bars

71. Hell Of The Living Dead

72. Zombie

With 72 films, i think that should keep me, as well as you, dear reader, busy for quite some time… But just in case, here are a few more films that were banned but were never officially on the Video Nasty List:

Maniac

Mother’s Day

The New York Ripper

Straw Dogs

The Texas Chainsaw massacre.

Some titles commonly seized but neither prosecuted, banned or making the Nasty list are:

Ultimo Mondo Cannibale(released as Cannibal)

City Of The Living Dead

Zombie Holocaust (Hint, if it has Holocaust in the title, it probly pissed a few people off)

La Lupa Mannara (Werewolf Woman)

Blood For Dracula

Dawn Of The Mummy

Blue Eyes Of The Broken Doll

Madman

Terror Express

The Prowler

Basket Case

Night of the Seagulls (don’t laugh, it’s the 4th installment of the awesomely done Blind Dead saga)

Fuck…I’ve got a LOT of movies to watch. If anyone reading this watches any of these films, i’d love to hear your thoughts on them or any feedback in general. Other than that, dig in to a helping helping of hellishly horrid films!

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