The brief period of the “Video Nasty” is an astonishing chapter in the history of British censorship and film distribution. By the turn of the 1980’s, schlocky, low-budget, extreme-horror films had crept their way onto shelves in the UK, and soon became colloquially known as “Video Nasties” due to their outrageous content.
The most famous of these was undoubtedly The Evil Dead, which went on to become a huge cult classic, spawning two sequels, a remake, and an untold number of unofficial knockoffs (it also gave us Sam Raimi’s mainstream career which produced the infamous Spider-man 3 dance sequence, but one can’t have everything). Others have gone on to fame (or possibly infamy) among the horror community, including Cannibal Holocaust, The Last House On The Left, and I Spit On Your Grave.
At the time, in a fruitless attempt to dispel these “atrocities” from society, British police were sent out on store raids to confiscate these videos, and quite literally throw them into an incinerator to destroy them. Several distributors were thrown in jail, and anyone caught in possession of one of the 72 banned films risked severe prosecution. Incredibly, owning a Video Nasty at one time made you a criminal.
Anywho, here is a throwback clip of Siskel & Ebert in 1987 talking about the Video Nasty phenomenon…
WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW: