The Place: Great Britain. The Time: The Early 1980’s
You’ve just bought one of those snazzy new VCRs, and you’ve invited all your friends over for movie night. Down the street to the hire shop you go, to pick up a few choice films for the party, but what a strange sight greets you at your destination. Where’s Star Wars? Where’s Jaws? Where’s Rocky? No place, that’s where. The studios are afraid you’ll pirate all their big money-makers if they release them to home video, so you’re stuck choosing among a few more obscure titles instead. And what titles! The Beast in Heat. Zombie Flesh-Eaters. The Gestapo’s Last Orgy. And what cover art! Here, slavering corpses claw their way free from their graves to go in search of warm, live bodies to consume. There, nude women hang by their ankles as SS officers look on with stern approval. Two shelves up, someone bores a hole in somebody else’s forehead with a gigantic power drill. While you ponder whether I Spit on Your Grave or Night of the Bloody Apes will go over better with your guests, a bunch of policemen suddenly burst into the store and begin shoveling the merchandise into plastic bags while their sergeant places the proprietor under arrest for trafficking in obscenity… You’ve just found yourself on the frontlines of the war between clean-living Britons and the Video Nasties!
Join us now as the B-Masters Cabal leads you on a tour of a vanished world in which the government of the second-most powerful nation in the West could apparently think of no issue more pressing than the need to protect its citizens against movies about masked maniacs, horny Nazis, and re-animated corpses. And as you click your way through the links below, just remember the incantation that Parliament forgot: To avoid fainting, repeat to yourself,
“It’s only a movie…
“Only a movie…
“Only a movie…”
|1000 Misspent Hours and Counting||The Burning|
Not that you need me to tell you this, but Glazer is far from the only camper with sex on the brain. Eddie (The Exterminator’s Ned Eisenberg) is especially horny, and considering the ass on his love-interest, Karen (Carolyn Houlihan, whose ass is also featured in A Little Sex), I can’t say I blame him.
|The Evil Dead|
By any fair assessment, the vast majority of the horror movies that got snagged in the Video Nasties dragnet were indeed utter garbage, relying for their profitability upon their appeal to an audience (you and me, for example) that revels in the poorest possible taste. There were a few, however, that have come to be regarded as classics in the twenty-odd years since then, and Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead is almost certainly the foremost of that lot.
|House on the Edge of the Park|
Now here’s a premise that, depending on your perspective, is either a sure-fire ticket seller or the ultimate cue to run screaming in the opposite direction: Ruggero Deodato ripping off— indeed practically remaking— The Last House on the Left.
|I Spit on Your Grave|
I imagine I’m the only person alive who ever said this with a straight face, but for me, I Spit on Your Grave is the feel-good movie of 1978. Why? Because the fucking sons of bitches get exactly what they deserve, and they get it from the person who most deserves to give it to them.
|The Last House on the Left|
An opening title card informs us that “The following is based on a true story. The names have been changed to protect those still living.” One assumes that was reckoned to have slightly more horror movie street cred than “The following is based on a much-respected Swedish art film. The names have been changed because none of you dumb-asses would ever be able to pronounce ‘Ingeri’.”
|Make Them Die Slowly|
There was an odd relationship between Lenzi and his fellow Italian schlockmeister, Ruggero Deodato, during 1970’s and early 1980’s. From the moment Lenzi basically invented the Italian cannibal movie with 1972’s The Man from Deep River until the time about ten years later when the genre sputtered to a premature but much appreciated halt, the two men seemed to be engaged in a sort of undeclared duel to see who could make the most disgusting movie about gut-munching stone-agers.
|SS Hell Camp|
If Larry Flynt had been allowed to direct an episode of “Hogan’s Heroes,” it might have come out looking something like SS Hell Camp.
|And You Call Yourself a Scientist!||Blood Feast|
We get one of our lingering shots here, as Fuad drops to his knees, scoops up a portion of brain, and kind of... fondles it... before putting it into his carry-bag. While Fuad has been scrupulously thorough to date in his collection of "certain limbs and organs", here he collects no more than a token fragment of grey matter; a fact that probably tells us all we need to know about the Blood Cult of Ishtar.
As my colleague Nathan Shumate is fond of saying, sometimes the jokes just write themselves.
There is one more test he must pass. He must share a meal of human flesh with the tribe elders. And here we have possibly the best metaphor anyone could have thought of for Deodato and his film. In order to bring back the message he needs to convey, in order to get his film back from the jungle, he needs to do something horrible; something that will change him; something that will forever separate him from other civilized men. And after he's done that terrible thing, and has a chance to see what his sacrifice has gained him, he'll be forced to wonder for the rest of his life if the sacrifice was worth it.
I'm not sure how this [movie] was supposed to contribute to bringing down Western civilization. Perhaps the Powers that Be were worried that the film might start a trend of people spontaneously erupting in a shower of innards. Or maybe they were afraid that the rate of Martian invasions would skyrocket. Or maybe — just maybe — the guardians of public morality had their heads stuffed so far up their asses that they couldn't and didn't actually see the movie they were banning.
|Zombie Creeping Flesh|
Zombie... creeping... flesh? Honestly, if they were going to remind us of a Peter Cushing movie, they should have chosen one of the worst: wouldn't Zombie Blood Beast Terror have been more appropriate?
|Cold Fusion Video||Don’t Look in the Basement|
Dr. Stephens is experimenting with "unusual psychiatric methods," which usually means "dumbass ideas which will get you killed" in the movies. For instance, he gives an axe to one of his patients, "the Judge" (Gene Ross) to work out his frustrations on a log. Now, I'm not a psychiatric professional, but I think it a little careless to so empower an unpredictable mental patient and then get distracted and turn my back on him. The Judge apparently thinks so too, and buries the axe in Dr. Harvey's back to show his displeasure.
|Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension||Night of the Bloody Apes|
Meanwhile, we return to Lucy, who is back in the ring. I mean, c’mon, this is a Mexican horror movie and we haven’t had a wrestling scene in like fifteen minutes. Oddly, this match seems to be playing out before the exact same crowd as the one seen in the beginning of the movie, who moreover all appear to be sitting in the exact same seats. Season tickets holders, I guess.
Because the credits to Slaughter were removed from Snuff and apparently lost, the character names and exactly who played them will probably remain an eternal mystery, like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop or why Michael Bay movies make more money the worse they are.
|Teleport City||Bay of Blood|
Bay of Blood is neither your typical giallo or your typical slasher film. It's something much smarter and better composed than the bulk of films it inspired. Bay is mean but not exactly mean-spirited, clever without being irritating, and really just sort of nastily funny. One gets the feeling that Bava really relished the opportunity, after infusing so many of his films with a humanist compassion toward the lead characters, to simply cut loose and let a bunch of conniving, spoiled schemers really have it.