The 'Video Nasty' Scandal: 7 Films Banned In The UK
by Ford Maddox Brown
September 24, 2015
The advent of VCR in the 80s marked a dark time for bloodthirsty British fans of horror as the NVALA and the DPP proceeded to ban and prosecute any films deemed to be exploitative or immoral. In total, 72 films were prohibited for distribution in the UK in a frenzy now referred to as the 'Video Nasties', a phrase coined by NVALA campaign leader Mary Whitehouse. Hide your kids, lest they be influenced by the sheer obscenity, because here are seven of the notorious banned films:
7. I Spit on Your Grave (1978) Dir: Meir Zarchi
Why it was banned: This controversial revenge flick that sees a young writer move to a remote house only to be terrorised by locals includes a brutal gang rape scene that lasts for a laborious seven minutes. Some film theorists now opine that I Spit on Your Grave contains feminist themes due to the cathartic nature of Jennifer's revenge.
6. Last Orgy of the Third Reich (1977) Dir: Cesare Canevari
Why it was banned: Nazis? Murder? Explicit eroticism? It is hardly any wonder this Italian exploitation flick was banned. In one scene, the SS Staff feast on a stew made of unborn Jewish infants. Grim stuff indeed.
5. Killer Nun (1978) Dir: Giulio Berruti
Why it was banned: Killer Nun is another Italian film from the late 70s, Berutti's work is part of a bizarre cycle of films known as 'Nunsploitation'. Yep you heard that right. The film was described as "lurid" and "sleazy" by critics and it contains images of graphic torture and one scene where a needle pierces an eyeball. Ew.
4. Eaten Alive/Death Trap (1977) Dir: Tobe Hooper
Why it was banned: Tobe Hooper's second film after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre depicts a deranged hotel clerk feeding guests to his pet crocodile. Mary Whitehouse took a personal objection to this film as all of the violence in the narrative appears to be gratuitous and unwarranted.
3. Cannibal Holocaust (1980) Dir: Ruggero Deodato
Why it was banned: Cannibal Holocaust is one of the most infamous exploitation films of all time and director Ruggero Deodato was apprehended and subsequently brought to trial for the films graphic content. Obscenities in the picture include acts of lewd cannibalism and genuine cruelty to animals, 15 seconds of which are still banned in the UK today.
2. Faces of Death (1978) Dir: Conan LeCilaire
Why it was banned: This 1978 mondo (mockumentary) film is a collection of explicit scenes that depict different variations of death. Included in the highlight reel is actual news-reel footage of fatal accidents, monkeys being clubbed to death and a barbaric dog fight.
1. Last House on the Left (1972) Dir: Wes Craven
Why it was banned: Horror legend Wes Craven's directorial debut is now heralded as a symbolic deflowering of the love generation and an overt statement on violence in America but it too was treated as illicit contraband in the UK. Particular aspects of the film categorised as too obscene included rape, castration and the removal of entrails.