30 banned horror films, 30 midnights, all on 35mm.
This month, as a precursor to Cinefamily's massive new horror festival Nightmare City, the theater is launching a horror screening series so perversely over-the-top and wondrously fun that we ourselves still can’t believe it: a series of 35mm midnight movie screenings every single night in October, all culled from the infamous list of “Video Nasties”. Video Nasties are the kind of sleazy horror flicks that infested video stores around the world -- movies with video covers so exploitatively gratuitous and repellent that an entire nation freaked out and banned them.
What exactly is a Video Nasty, you ask?
Back in 1982, a moral panic erupted in the U.K. under the iron fist of Margaret Thatcher and her cohorts in media censorship, who found it handy to blame all of society’s ills (and particularly its maladjusted children) on those nasty, nasty horror movies sitting on video shelves around the country. Using rigged data, trumped-up reports, yellow journalism and an easily frightened public, a number of gory films -- 72, to be exact -- wound up as official societal scapegoats.
This scandalous rundown of films ranges from bona fide classics (The Evil Dead, Possession) to top-tier trash (Evilspeak, Faces of Death) -- which, in England, were all either banned or reissued in drastically cut versions. When viewed through today’s lens, it seems that there was no true criteria for what landed a film on the Nasties list, other than that they should all be as awesome as possible.