The term ‘video nasty’ refers to a list of films (released on home video in the early 1980’s) that were considered to be overtly violent & were heavily criticised by the media & religious groups. A campaign by Mary Whitehouse (religious activist who actually coined the term ‘video nasty’) & backed by newspapers such as the Daily Mail led to the eventual Video Recordings Act 1984.
Of the 72 movies that made the list many have now been re-released uncut or with small amounts cut. This is the top 10 best of the original nasty list based of the quality of the movie not the controversy (if that was the case then Cannibal Holocaust wins every time) but will explain why they ended up on the nasty list.
10 – The House by the Cemetery (1981)
A living corpse lives in the basement & feeds on the blood of the houses inhabitants to sustain his life. Like many nasties…when it gets violent, it really doesn’t shy away from the gore. The film has run afoul of the censors many times but has now been passed completely uncut including on Blu-Ray.
9 – The Driller Killer (1979)
Local artist sick of his terrible neighbourhood & his noisy neighbours decides to clean up using a portable drill. It is this movie that caused a lot of the video nasty scare with its full page adverts in movie magazines depicting its violent cover (man being drilled in the head). It got loads of complaints based off the picture alone & got censored heavily…it can now be viewed uncut.
8 – Evilspeak (1981)
A young boy at a military academy, tired of being bullied, discovers Satanic books & plots revenge on those who have wronged him. Classed as a video nasty mainly because of its ending (an absolute bonkers ending) & themes of Satanism but you can now view it completely uncut.
7 – The Last House on the Left (1972)
An escaped gang of violent criminals rape & murder 2 teenage girls & then spend the night at the girls parent’s home. The parents find out what they’ve done & get their revenge. Immensely controversial & refused certificate without cuts for so long….it has only been passed uncut as of 2008 & has now had a remake released in 2009.
6 – The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974)
Also better known as Let Sleeping Corpses Lie…A machine designed to kill insects in the English countryside is reanimating the dead. A violent latter half saw this receive cuts even though it wasn’t successfully prosecuted but it is now viewable uncut.
5 – I Spit On Your Grave (1978)
A short story writer staying in a remote cottage is raped & left for dead by a group of thugs, once awake she sets about getting her revenge…Banned in many countries & heavily cut in most others for a long time, most used the reason that it promoted & glorified violence to women. It has never been released uncut in the UK & even the latest version has 3 minutes missing. The film was remade in 2010 & had a remake sequel in 2013.
4 – The Beyond (1981)
A woman inherits an old hotel & plans to re-open it but unknown to her it is holds a portal to hell. Strange things start happening, people start dying & eventually zombies start appearing. It came unstuck thanks to the violent & gory deaths but has been passed uncut for many years now.
3 – The Evil Dead (1981)
A group of young adults are spending the weekend at a remote cabin inadvertently awaken demonic forces in the woods. Perhaps the most famous movie that ended up on the nasty list even though it escaped prosecution. Initially given a rating that put it alongside hard-core porn & put on the nasty list it has been uncut for many years now. It also got a remake in 2013.
2 – Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
A film crew went missing in the Amazon jungle while filming an indigenous tribe. Now their footage has been found & a group of studio executive want to screen it. One guy insists on watching it first…Definitely the most controversial on this list with scenes of extreme gore, real animal slaughter, full sex & rape. It’s not hard to see why it landed on the list. It was originally thought to be a snuff film (a film that depicts real death & murders) & the director was even arrested & hauled into court.
The problem was that he had got the cast & crew to sign contracts that said they effectively had to ‘disappear’ for one year so as to give the movie the impression that it was real. The director had to prove that he hadn’t killed the actors & how he staged the impalement scene. The film is mostly uncut now but small sections of animal cruelty have still be omitted.
1 – Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)
A woman & a male reporter travel to a remote island searching for her missing father. They discover the island is a cursed place where the dead walk. Initially passed with some small cuts a more violent re-release saw it end up on the nasty list. Several extremely gory scenes are listed as reasons & the film can be extremely graphic at times. As the movie was successfully prosecuted it remained cut for a long time but is now freely available in all its gory splendour.