Living in the UK in the 1980s wasn't easy. The public had to deal with Thatcher, a massive wage disparity gap, and the dreaded Video Nasties. These horror and exploitation films were the bane of conservative activists who felt films like Cannibal Holocaust and The Evil Dead violated the Obscene Publications Act of 1959.
The 72 movies that were slapped with the title of Video Nasty range from legitimate pieces of groundbreaking horror to a film whose director admits is just a rip-off of Alien. Horror fans have been working their way through the Video Nasties since the British Board of Film Censors and the Director of Public Prosecutions started putting these movies on their no-no list, but which of these movies are actually worth watching?
Lucky for you we've watched, internalized, and figured out which of these movies are worth your time and excluded any that are just straight-up nasty. Vote up the ones you think are worth a watch.
- Photo: The Funhouse / Universal Pictures
The Funhouse is nowhere near as disturbing as some of the other films that it sits beside, but it's a fantastic film that horror fans should find ASAP. The film follows a group of friends staying in "The Funhouse" overnight on a dare. Things go wrong, and the friends are picked off one by one. If you like slashers, you'll love The Funhouse.
So why is this fairly tame movie on the Video Nasty list? It's believed that the people behind the list made a mistake and mistook Tobe Hooper's film for 1977's Last House on Dead End Street which was released in the UK as The Fun House. Whatever the case, Hooper's The Funhouse was released uncut on home video in 1987.Worth a watch?
- Photo: Dead & Buried / AVCO Embassy Pictures
Dead & Buried is a diamond in the rough of early '80s horror. The film takes place in a small town where dead bodies keep coming back to life. Stan Winston provides some creepy and atmospheric effects, and the script from Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusset is simmering with undead weirdness. OH! And Robert Englund makes one of his few non-Freddy Krueger appearances. This is a bit of fried gold.
The BBFC never prosecuted Dead & Buried the way it did Cannibal Holocaust, but that didn't stop them from editing less than a minute from the film's home video release in 1990. An uncut version of the film is now available to anyone who wants to visit this freaky little town.
Worth a watch?
- Photo: The Beyond / Medusa Distribuzione
The work of Dario Argento is somewhat unfairly tossed on the Video Nasty list by the BBFC, but his friend and fellow Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci spent his career daring regulatory boards to allow audiences to see his films. The Beyond is a surreal nightmare about a woman who inherits a hotel that may or may not be sitting atop a gate to hell (spoiler alert: it is).
The Beyond has everything audiences expect from Fulci: eyes are gouged out, faces melt, and one character actually has his face eaten by a swarm of tarantulas. The whole thing plays out like a fever dream that's only matched by Nobuhiko Obayashi's House. An edited cut was actually released on home video in the UK, and it finally saw an unedited release in the 2000s.Worth a watch?
- Photo: Tenebrae / Titanus
What does the British Film Board have against Italians? Or Italian films specifically? Is it that giallo films are all filmed without audio and dubbed later? Is it their excessive weirdness? Maybe it's their fixation on white gloves and lengthy investigation scenes. Whatever the case, a lot of Video Nasties happen to hail from Italy. All of that is to say it's not totally clear why Tenebrae is included here.
Argento's Tenebrae concerns an American author who's in Rome to promote his latest mystery novel and gets sidetracked when a serial slayer starts slaying based on his work. Helping the police with their investigation isn't in his job description, but you know, movies, plots, etc.
The film is an intriguing entry point into giallo, a genre that can be somewhat impenetrable to audiences, and even when the film does get violent, none of it feels real in the way that the violence of I Spit On Your Grave and The Last House on the Left, which feels like it's from a snuff film. It's believed that the eroticism of the violence in Tenebrae is the reason it was added to the list, but once you watch the movie, you'll see that the sexualization of violence in horror films is kind of the point.Worth a watch?