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 Evil Dead / New Line Cinema
On the one hand, The Evil Dead is a horror classic that spawned an unforgettable series of films and catchphrases, and on the other, it's the movie where a woman is sexually assaulted by evil trees and a bunch of college students gets hacked up after they're possessed by evil spirits. It makes sense that the British Board of Film Censors were less than thrilled about putting the film in theaters.
The Evil Dead was banned across the globe upon its release, but its release in Britain came along with numerous cuts just to gain an X rating so it could be played in theaters. When the X-rated version of the film made its way to video, it was seized from shops around England despite its proper classification. In 1990, more cuts were made to get the rating down to an "18," and by 2000, the film was available in its unedited form.
If there's one movie on the Video Nasties list that pretty much everyone has seen, it's The Evil Dead. Further entries into this franchise would crank up the silliness and lean into the absurd nature of the supernatural, but the original film in the series is an unsettling take on one of the oldest horror tropes.Worth a watch?
- Photo: The Burning / Filmways Pictures
This summer camp slasher about a disfigured killer who uses a set of garden shears to do his dirty work is exactly what you want out of a low-budget 1980s horror film. The Burning is similar to a lot of slashers at the time, specifically Friday the 13th and the lesser-known but truly insane Madman, but it really goes for the gore thanks to makeup and special effects guru Tom Savini.
The Burning is one of the most straightforward films on the Video Nasty list, and the only reason it was banned in Britain is because an uncut version of the film was released on home video. The police later paid a visit to the publisher and confiscated all of the copies. When an edited version of the film was then released, it was also confiscated by the police. They really didn't want the public to see what happens at an American summer camp.
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: I Spit on Your Grave / The Jerry Gross Organization4
I Spit on Your Grave
It's no surprise that this classic rape-revenge film is on the list of Video Nasties. The alarmingly long scenes of sexual assault are more than enough to land this film on the BBFC's naughty list, but the gruesome revenge taken by final girl Jennifer Hills might even turn burgeoning horror fans away from the genre forever.
I Spit On Your Grave (or Day of the Woman if you prefer) wasn't even released in British cinemas, and it made its way straight to home video uncut. A heavily edited version was released with an "18" rating in 2001 which was followed by various edits, but it's never been released completely unedited.
The film's use of sexual violence may be jarring to most audiences, but it really is a well-made film that forms the basis of more modern genre films like Revenge and Promising Young Woman.Worth a watch?