Seize the Video Nasties!

Posted: January 16, 2017 in List, Opinions
Tags: ,

What are Video Nasties?

If you’ve spent much time in and around the horror genre, you’ve heard the term Video Nasty. It seems that many genre films from the 70s and 80s have somehow become associated with the term, but there are very specific lists of movies that were Video Nasties.

In the early 80s, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and Mary Whitehouse led a campaign to prosecute certain titles for obscenity. The result was the Video Recordings Act of 1984, which required all video releases to appear before the BBFC for certification (as well as demands for edits). For many years, the UK would become one of the most heavily censored countries in all of Europe.

To learn more about the proceedings and public reaction, check out the Severin releases of Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide (there are two parts). In addition to some great documentaries, there are trailers for every Video Nasty film, even the Section 3 list, which are not really considered the “real” Video Nasties.

videonastiesonetwo

Available from Severin Films.

In total, there are 72 movies included in the Section 2 list, 39 of which were actually prosecuted. It is those 72 movies that I am going to look at over the coming months (some of which I’ve already reviewed). There are some very well-known titles in this list, such as Evil Dead, Zombie and The Beyond, but there are also a lot of fairly obscure titles. This also applies to the quality of the movies. Some of these are pretty poorly made, which in some ways, creates a sort of grindhouse charm.

Although this was a dark time for horror enthusiasts in the U.K., the BBFC brought attention to many films that may never have been popular.  In fact, the Video Nasty list is often used as a check list of sorts, movies that are “extreme” enough to have been banned

Without further ado, here is a list of the films, with links to reviews that will be updated as the year goes.

Section 2 Prosecuted Films:

  1. Absurd
  2. Anthropophagus: The Beast
  3. Axe
  4. A Bay of Blood
  5. The Beast in Heat
  6. Blood Feast
  7. Blood Rites
  8. Bloody Moon
  9. The Burning
  10. Cannibal Apocalypse
  11. Cannibal Ferox
  12. Cannibal Holocaust
  13. The Cannibal Man
  14. Devil Hunter
  15. Don’t Go in the Woods
  16. The Driller Killer
  17. Evilspeak
  18. Exposé
  19. Faces of Death
  20. Fight for Your Life
  21. Flesh for Frankenstein
  22. Forest of Fear
  23. Gestapo’s Last Orgy
  24. The House by the Cemetery
  25. The House on the Edge of the Park
  26. I Spit on Your Grave
  27. Island of Death
  28. The Last House on the Left
  29. Love Camp 7
  30. Madhouse
  31. Mardi Gras Massacre
  32. Nightmares in a Damaged Brain
  33. Night of the Bloody Apes
  34. Night of the Demon
  35. Snuff
  36. SS Experiment Camp
  37. Tenebrae
  38. The Werewolf and the Yeti
  39. Zombie Flesh Eaters

Section 2 Non-Prosecuted Films:

  1. The Beyond
  2. The Bogey Man
  3. Cannibal Terror
  4. Contamination
  5. Dead & Buried
  6. Death Trap
  7. Deep River Savages
  8. Delirium
  9. Don’t Go in the House
  10. Don’t Go Near the Park
  11. Don’t Look in the Basement
  12. The Evil Dead
  13. Frozen Scream
  14. The Funhouse
  15. Human Experiments
  16. I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses
  17. Inferno
  18. Killer Nun
  19. Late Night Trains
  20. The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue
  21. Nightmare Maker
  22. Possession
  23. Pranks
  24. Prisoner of the Cannibal God
  25. Revenge of the Bogey Man
  26. The Slayer
  27. Terror Eyes
  28. The Toolbox Murders
  29. Unhinged
  30. Visiting Hours
  31. The Witch Who Came From the Sea
  32. Women Behind Bars
  33. Zombie Creeping Flesh

krampus

Directed By: Michael Dougherty

Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Emjay Anthony, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Stefania LaVie Owen,

Synopsis: A family’s Holiday gathering is spoiled by the arrival of Krampus, a spirit that comes during Christmas to punish the wicked.

Thoughts: The legend of Krampus, which comes from German folklore has become quite a popular subject the last couple of years. He’s appeared in a few films and can be found throughout popular culture. From what I’ve seen, this is one of the better movies to depict Krampus, and it also happens to be the long awaited follow up of Michael Dougherty, who brought is 2007’s classic Trick ‘r Treat.

The story here is straight forward, a family gets together to celebrate, but tensions are high, causing everyone to fight and therefore make the whole affair miserable. Max, one of the children, rips up his letter to Santa and throws it out the window, which summons Krampus.

There is a lot to like about Krampus. The cast is well above average with Adam Scott, Toni Collette and David Koechner being the most well-known actors involved. The FX are also great, with Krampus and his army of nasty creatures being well thought out and pretty damn creepy. Even with that, there is something… lacking with Krampus. Maybe it is because Trick ‘r Treat is so damn perfect, I was expecting the same here. I’ve watched it twice now, and found it enjoyable, but just not blown away. That being said, I believe time will be kind to Krampus, and I can see it becoming a Christmas horror classic, even if it isn’t as good as Trick ‘r Treat. The story and quality of the movie overall are more than enough to carry it. I’m glad to have it in my collection, and will certainly be watching it again next December.

silent-night-deadly-night-5-the-toy-maker

Directed By: Martin Kitrosser

Starring: William Thorne, Jane Higginson, Van Quattro, Tracy Fraim, Mickey Rooney, Brian Bremmer, Neith Hunter, Clint Howard

Synopsis: Deadly toys lead to a nefarious toymaker and his bizarre son, but not everything is as it seems.

Thoughts: The final installment of the original franchise is, without a doubt, the most bizarre entry. While the first there were slasher films, and the second dealt with the occult, The Toy Maker starts with someone delivering killer toys. It’s not very clear why the toys are being delivered at first, but the story starts to unwind as the movie progresses.

The most interesting casting choice is that of Mickey Rooney as a toy shop owner. Rooney famously campaigned against the first movie. I guess that a paycheck outweighed his morals when it came to The Toy Maker. The rest of the cast is pretty much what you’d expect, but Brian Bremmer turns in a rather bizarre performance as Pino, the son of Rooney’s character Joe Petto.

The Toy Maker is worth checking out just for the bizarre twists in the movie. The ending is pretty unique, and definitely not something you see coming. Sadly, there isn’t a quality release of The Toy Maker (just like part 4), but you can find the triple feature on DVD pretty cheap.

silent-night-deadly-night-4

Directed By: Brian Yuzna

Starring: Clint Howard, Neith Hunter, Tommy Hinkley, Reggie Bannister, Allyce Beasley, Maud Adams, Hugh Fink, Ricard Gladstein, Geln Chin

Synopsis: An investigation into a woman’s death leads a reporter to uncover a coven of witches.

Thoughts: The fourth installment of Silent Night, Deadly Night foregoes the killer Santa brothers from the first three movies and takes a completely different turn towards the supernatural. In my opinion, this was a good move. There wasn’t a lot more to do with Billy and Ricky’s story (although the earlier movies get a cameo of sorts as it is playing on a background TV in one scene). What did surprise me is that this has very little to do with Christmas. The ritual that is set to take place in the climax takes place on Christmas Eve, so there is some connection, but not nearly as overt as the first three movies.

The cast is led by Neith Hunter, who plays Kim, the aspiring reporter looking to uncover the bizarre circumstances of a woman’s death. For someone without a lot of experience, I thought she did a good job. The coven that she encounters is also very good, and made me wonder how much of an influence that this movie had on Rob Zombie for Lords of Salem. There are a lot of parallels between the two movies. There are also a couple of very familiar faces to horror fans here as well, with Clint Howard playing a significant role as Ricky (nod to preceding entries), the servant to the coven. Kim’s boss, the editor at the newspaper is played by Reggie Bannister, of Phantasm fame.

The familiar names don’t stop there, as Initiation was directed by Brian Yuzna, who brought us gems like Society and Bride or Re-Animator. He also wrote this, and it shows. Yuzna has always had a penchant for pretty gory scenes, and there are a few of those in Initiation. Yuzna relied on Screaming Mad George for the FX here, which proved to be another great decision.

Oddly enough, I found this to be one of the better entries in the series, which is not something I was expecting. I believe that is partly due to the deviation from the slasher formula, which really wasn’t done particularly well in the previous entries anyway.

Unfortunately, the DVD release of this is of pretty poor quality. I’d love to see Scream pick up the series and give the original a Collector’s Edition, 2 & 3 a double feature and 4 & 5 a double feature. An Arrow box set would also be pretty sweet.

This was an interesting watch, and I do plan on revisiting it someday, probably as a double feature with Lords of Salem, just to see how similar the movies are (or if it is my shoddy memory).I think Initiation is worth checking out, but not necessarily as a Christmas horror movie.

silent-night-deadly-night-3

Directed By: Monte Hellman

Starring: Bill Moseley, Richard Beymer, Samantha Scully, Eric Da Re, Laura Harring, Robert Culp, Elizabeth Hoffman

Synopsis: Ricky awakens from a coma, going on a killing spree and stalking a blind psychic girl.

Thoughts: It turns out Ricky survived the end of the previous movie, and doctors have reconstructed his head, placing a plastic dome over his brain. They’ve also decided to use a psychic to try and reach him, because that is always a great idea with a psychotic killer. Interestingly enough, this came out the year after Friday the 13th introduced a psychic twist to their franchise with A New Blood.

When I first set out to watch this, I was excited to see Bill Moseley had taken up the role of Ricky, but honestly, I was pretty underwhelmed with his performance here, as I was with the entire movie. It wasn’t dreadful, but it sure wasn’t good either. It is the last in the series to follow the story of Billy and Ricky as the Santa Claus killers. The final two movies in the series take a completely different turn.

The Silent Night, Deadly Night series is infamous for its iconic imagery of a killer Santa Claus and the controversy around the first film, but the reality is that the series is not very good. It’s a testament to the power of home video in the 80s that 4 sequels were made in fairly quick succession. If you don’t check out the sequels, you won’t be missing much, but I do know that many people consider them essential viewing during the holiday season.

 

FILMS
Dawn of the Dead (1978) 1h, 56m The Argento Cut
Total Points: 2 (No clowns)
One of the best zombie scripts of all time, I just wish the effects from Day were also here.
9/10

Day of the Dead (1985) 1h, 40m
Total Points: 2 (No clowns)
Some of my favorite zombie effects out there and a great story too.
8.5/10

Alligator (1980) 1h, 34m
Total Points: 2 (No bonus points)
This is one of my favorite creature features and I was able to watch this in 35mm at the Alamo Drafthouse after holding a live gator!
7.5/10

Clown (2014) 1h, 40m
Total Points: 6 (ATB – Multiple clown homicides)
This finally has a US release, but I was lucky enough to pick it up a year ago.  I really like this one.
8/10

Killjoy’s Psycho Circus (2016)
Total Points: 8 (Special world premier on El Rey bonus)
Ugh, worst thing I watched this month.
2/10

Demonic Toys (1992) 1h, 26m
Total Points: 6 (ATB – What you’re watching has a TOY, SIGN, MEDIA, POSTER with the LIKENESS of Any CLOWN, JOKER, or FOOL (CLOWN DOLL ATTACKS a HUMAN = ATB) Jack Attack is a Jack in the Box that is a clown
Not sure why, but I’ve always liked this one.
7/10

Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys (2004) 1h, 28m
Total Points: 6 (ATB – What you’re watching has a TOY, SIGN, MEDIA, POSTER with the LIKENESS of Any CLOWN, JOKER, or FOOL (CLOWN DOLL ATTACKS a HUMAN = ATB) Jack Attack is a Jack in the Box that is a clown
Over the top puppet madness.  Lots of fun, but not very good.
5/10

TELEVISION
The Walking Dead S7, E1 (2016) 1h
Total Points: 1
Holy. Shit.
10/10

The Walking Dead S7, E2 (2016) ih
Total Points: 1
As to be expected, this was much slower than the premier, but I’m excited to learn more about Ezekial.
7/10

 

 

FILMS
Mirrors (2008) 1h, 51m
Total Points: 2 (No clowns, just freaky mirrors)
Alexandre Aja is one of my favorite directors out there.  I’ve loved just about everything he’s touched and thought it was about time to revisit this one. I think it has a bad reputation, but it’s a solid movie, with some spooky imagry.
7/10

Frankenstein (1931) 1h, 11m
Total Points: 2 (No bonus points)
I love this film and watch it every year.
10/10

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) 1h, 15m
Total Points: 2 (No bonus points)
As much as I love the original, this is in my top five all time.  Great acting, story and script.  It doesn’t get much better than this.
10/10

Son of Frankenstein (1939) 1h, 39m
Total Points: 2 (No bonus points)
This sequel reignited what was a slowing horror scene in the late 30s.  This is also one of the longer Universal Horror classics.
8/10

Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) 1h, 6m
Total Points: 2 (No bonus points)
From one of the longest to one of the shortest Universal classics!  No one seems to talk about this one, but I like it.
8/10

House of Frankenstein (1944) 1h, 11m
Total Points: 3 (Temporary Carnival – Lampini’s Chamber of Horrors)
This movie, along with Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, are what started me on my love of the genre back in the 80s when I was a kid.  I still love them to this day.  We may have had Freddy vs Jason, but we’ll never get to the level we saw back in the Universal days.
9/10

Stephen King’s It (1990) 3h, 7m
Total Points: 9 (3 base points due to length and ATB for the numerous acts of clown homicide)
I was 14 when this aired on TV and I recall being totally enthralled with it.  I sped through the book just in time for the miniseries, and while it doesn’t do the book justice (do they ever?) it is very good.  I think a lot of this is owed to Tim Curry as Pennywise, but the rest of the cast is great as well.
8/10

Halloween (1978) 1h, 31m
Total Points: 6 (ATB for Clown homicide – Young Michael Myers is dressed as a clown when he kills his sister)
What more can be said about Halloween.  It’s one of the best of all time and in my top 5 for sure.  While it wasn’t the first slasher, it started the craze that populated the 80s.
10/10

Halloween II (1981) 1h, 32m
Total Points: 2 (No bonus points)
Although it loses some of the magic of the first film, Halloween II is a solid sequel.
8/10

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) 1h, 32m
Total Points: 6 (Clown commits homicide – Jamie dressed as a clown at the end of the movie)
Again, not a bad sequel, but it’s as if you can start to feel the story unwind.
7/10

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) 1h, 37m
Total Points: 6 (Clown commits homicide – Jamie dressed as a clown at the end of the movie)
Quickly going down hill, and now…Tina, as well as the two annoying cops at the party.
6.5/10

Firestarter (1984) 1h, 54m
Total Points: 2 (No Bonus Points)
Some cool characters, great actors and interesting concept, but far too long and drawn out.  If 30 minutes was cut out, this would be much better.
6/10

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) 1h, 38m
Total Points: 2 (No Bonus Points)
Halloween staple at our house.  I would have loved to have seen this franchise follow this path of different themed movies each year, but instead we got several mediocre Michael Myers movies. Here, you get Tom Atkins, Stonehenge, creepy masks and the most catchy Halloween jingle ever.
9/10

TELEVISION
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) 30m
Total Points: .5
Classic and must watch every Halloween season.
10/10

Toy Story of Terror! (2013) 30m
Total Points: .5
First time watching this and while it was well done, it just didn’t capture my attention.
7/10

SPECIAL POINTS/CHALLENGES
Presedential Debate (Wednesday, 10/19)
Total Points: 2 (Bonus points because both of them are clowns?)
My son had to watch this for school, otherwise I would have been watching a movie.
1/10