Though the Video Nasties moral panic lasted a number of years 1984 was arguably key, with the Video Recordings Act being passed by Parliament — though as was then discovered a quarter century later it was technically never actually law because it had not been presented to the EU for rubber stamping…
30 years on and most of the nasties are legally available, often in versions featuring fewer cuts than those released on VHS and Betamax back in the day. Some warrant their status and reputation while others were, in retrospect, clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Here we present a selection of nasties from the US, UK and Italy, some representative of broader groupings (cannibals, zombies, Nazis) and others more idiosyncratic.
H. G. Lewis | USA | 1963 | 67 minutes
The oldest film to be listed as a nasty is also generally acknowledged as the first gore film. Caterer Fuad Ramses is hired by Suzette Fremont’s mother to prepare an Egyptian feast for her 21st birthday. Fuad doesn’t mention, of course, that said feast is comprised largely of human body parts.
Friday 18th April, 8pm
Sam Peckinpah | USA / UK | 1971 | 113 minutes
Though not a de jure nasty Straw Dogs was a de facto one, becoming unavailable on home video after it was decided not to submit it for classification as it was expected that it would be refused a certificate. It was also an obvious influence on a film that was on the official list, namely James Kenelm-Clarke’s rape-revenge thriller Expose AKA The House on Straw Hill (1975)
Friday 25th April, 8pm
The Witch Who Came From the Sea
Matt Cimber | USA | 1976 | 83 minutes
A genuine oddity from the director of such cult classics as the white coater Africanus Sexualis and the violent blaxploitation The Candy Tangerine Man, this likely ended up on the nasties list due to its protagonist’s penchant for straight-razor castrations and the back-story of her abuse as a child.
Friday 2nd May, 8pm
The Beast in Heat
Luigi Batzella | Italy | 1977 | 86 minutes
One of a number of Nazi atrocity themed films to make the nasties list, this is not to be confused with Walerian Borowczyk’s The Beast (1975). Borowczyk’s film is part art, part porn, whereas The Beast in Heat has no pretensions to art and is surely one of the worst films you will ever see.
Friday 9th May, 8pm
Antonio Margheriti/Anthony Dawson | Italy | 1980 | 96 minutes
Ingeniously crossing Dawn of the Dead with Apocalypse Now, reliable Italian exploitation director Antonio Margheriti’s cannibal/zombie entry sees Vietnam veterans, infected with a virus that causes cannibalistic urges, go on the rampage in down-town Atlanta. The film features another nasties fixture in actor John Morghen/Giovanni Lombardo Radice.
Friday 16th May, 8pm
Italy | 1979-1981 | 90 minutes
An audience choice from Fulci’s Zombie, City of the Living Dead, The House by the Cemetery and The Beyond.
Friday 23rd May, 8pm