Scream and Scream Again: A Brief History of Video Nasties.

The rape of our children’s minds.

I thought that might get your attention, and although that headline may sound like unrestrained hyperbole from a writer of little restraint, it is actually a snippet from a carefully constructed media campaign designed to criminalise independent filmmakers. I’m talking, of course, about the ‘Video Nasty’ scandal of the 1980’s, a political manoeuvre that would scare working class voters into the Draconian arms of Conservative Thatcherism […]

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Absurd (1981)

Joe D’Amato’s Absurd is anything other than its title suggests.

Gaining notoriety as one of the 72 ‘video nasties’ deemed unfit for public consumption, it is a transparent derivative of John Carpenter’s seminal slasher Halloween, leeching off its popularity without quite figuring out what made it so effective in the first place. Far from the agonizingly-paced slice of subtlety it aspires to emulate, the movie is […]

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The House by the Cemetery (1981)

As a director, Lucio Fulci will always be synonymous with one word: gore.

So convincing was he in the blood department that he was once hauled into court on suspicion of animal cruelty due to some disturbingly convincing mutilation effects, while three of the 72 movies banned as ‘video nasties’ by the British Board of Film Classification belonged to him. In 1985, subsequent slasher The New York Ripper […]

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Shocker (1989)

By 1989 horror movies had become rather tepid.

Thanks to the chastening whip of the MPAA and BBFC during the mid-1980s, the genre would descend into cartoonery as a way to reach a broader audience. Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn would lead the way in that respect, and some movies were able to pass explicit gore based on absurdity, while others, such as Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, added depth as a way to counterbalance the meaningless nihilism that would outrage a generation […]

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Happy Birthday to Me (1981)

Happy Birthday to Me is a unique entry in an infamously uninventive sub-genre.

Then Canada’s highest grossing movie to date, many of its positives are purposeful, others not so much, but even its patchy moments are unique in their own right, making this one of the superior efforts in the slasher cannon. Made before the genre slipped into the kind of post-certificate self-parody that has no use for genuine acting, the movie stars Little House in the Prairie’s Melissa Sue Anderson, her angelic image proving quite the juxtapose, while legendary […]

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Christmas Evil (1980)

Someone had to do it.

After the unmitigated seasonal success of John Carpenter’s Halloween, it was inevitable that Kris Kringle would get the the psycho treatment. After all, what better gimmick to guarantees success? Transgressive cult director John Waters went on record as saying that Lewis Jackson’s Christmas Evil is ‘the greatest Christmas movie ever made’. So how highly does this pre-certificate slasher rank in relative terms? […]

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Killing Kris Kringle: Silent Night, Deadly Night and Censorship Hysteria

Some movies are a victim of their time.

Whatever one may think of Charles E. Sellier’s exploitative festive slasher Silent Night Deadly Night, one thing is for certain: it has found a rather prominent place in horror movie history.

Back in the winter of 1984, the movie was pulled from theatres a week after its release due to widespread protests regarding an advertising campaign which depicted jolly old Saint Nick as a bloodthirsty killer. Incredulously, those ads ran on prime time television, which led to an almost medieval outrage from PTA members who had left their children watching Little House on the Prairie, only to […]

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