We started telling the story of video nasties in this article, discussing how the UK media was obsessed with them destroying the children’s morals. The section 1 films that we covered were successfully prosecuted. Now, we’re moving on to section 2.
Any movie seized under Section 2 would make its dealer or distributor liable to be prosecuted for disseminating obscene materials. If the court found the film obscene, it coud lead to its dealer or distributor being fined or jailed, with the film unable to be released or sold until the obscenity charge was defeated. Usually that would mean cutting the offending footage from the film.
The 39 films on the section 1 list that we aleady covered were successfully prosecuted and remained banned, while the 33 section 2 films were unsuccessfully prosecuted. They were then dropped to section 3, which we’ll get to soon, which are movies that could not be prosecuted for obscenity, but were liable to seizure and confiscation under a less obscene charge. Any VHS tapes seized under Section 3 would be destroyed after distributors or merchants forfeited them to the authorities. Seeing as how there are 82 movies on the section 3 list, that’s going to take a bit to get to.
Here are the 33 section 2 movies and just why they upset people so much.
1. The Beyond: 2 minutes of this Lucio Fulci journey into surreal violence was trimmed from the film in 1987, allowing it to be released. It was also released by Thriller Video under another title, Seven Doors of Death, which has a new musical score and plenty of the film’s murders toned down. That’s also the version of the film that Aquarius Releasing showed when the film finally made it to the US in 1983. No matter what version you see it in, it’s a film that makes little narrative sense yet one that has striking visuals. You can watch this on Shudder or order the Grindhouse Releasing triple disc from Diabolik DVD.
2. The Boogeyman: While this film played UK cinemas uncut, 44 seconds needed to be removed for a 1992 rerelease. That said, this 1980 remix of Halloween mixed with utter strangeness of a man walking out of a mirror, was never prosecuted.
3. Cannibal Terror: Unlike so many of the cannibal cycle of films, this movie was made by French filmmakers. Luckily — or unluckily if you are someone concerned with the morality of such films — they were aided and abetted by Jess Franco, whose movie Mondo Cannibale shares locations and cast with this movie. This lovely little story is all about a botched kidnapping, a rape and then people being eaten. It was re-released uncut in 2003.
4. Contamination: Released as the heavily edited Alien Contamination and Toxic Spawn in the U.S., the main point of contention in this film — which was finally rereleased in 2004 with a 15 rating — are the gory explosions of bodies. It’s a great Luigi Cozzi film –albeit one influenced by Alien — that you can catch on Shudder and Amazon Prime. I recommend watching it with commentary by Joe Bob Briggs.
5. Dead & Buried: This movie feels pretty much like a lost classic to me. 30 seconds were cut for a 1990 rerelease — one imagines the injury to eye scene — while the entire movie was able to be released uncut in 1999. It looks like Severin may be re-releasing this in the U.S. Until then, Shudder has you covered.
6. Eaten Alive: Released as Death Trap in the UK — this Tobe Hooper film is also known as Starlight Slaughter. In my opinion, it’s also the movie that Rob Zombie wishes that he made and keeps trying to make over and over again. While this originally played in UK cinemas uncut and was re-released that way in 2000, 25 seconds needed to be removed in 1992. You can watch it for yourself on Amazon Prime or order it from Arrow Video.
7. Man From Deep River: Three minutes of more of this film have moments of real animal murder, which have been cut from its UK releases ever since it was first kept out of theaters in 1975. This Umberto Lenzi ripoff of A Man Called Horse stars the every awesome Ivan Rassimov and cannibal queen Me Me Lai. As good as its title is, the alternate ones are even better: Il Paese del Sesso Selvaggio (The Country of Savage Sex), Deep River Savages and Sacrifice! You can get the Sacrifice! cut of this movie from Raro Video.
8. Delirium: 16 seconds of this film were cut when it was re-released in 1987. It’s all about right-wingers hiring a vigilante to clean up criminals and street people who finally just starts killing everyone.
9. Don’t Go In the House: Somehow, this burst of insanity was released uncut to UK theaters before three minutes needed to be taken out for a 1987 reissue. I can only imagine how UK censors took to the scenes of women being chained up and set on fire in this truly unsettling movie. You can get the blu ray from Ronin Flix.
10. Don’t Go Near the Park: Directed by Lawrence D. Foldes at the age of 19, this nasty is all about two cursed cavepeople who live in a park and devour people for over 12,000 years. It was finally released uncut in 2006.
11. Don’t Look In the Basement: SF Brownrigg created this movie — about insane asylum patients unsure of who is a doctor and who belongs in the institution — in 1973, but age didn’t keep it off the video nasty list. Also known as The Forgotten and Death Ward #13, it played UK cinemas with some cuts before an uncensored version came out in 2005 with a 15 rating. You can get this on blu ray from Brink.
12. The Evil Dead: Two minutes of Sam Raimi’s classic had to be cut for a 1990 rerelease, despite this movie playing UK cinemas intact. Luckily, a 2001 version was uncut, tree assault and all.
13. Frozen Scream: Zombies get frozen and unfrozen before they kill people in this not-so-well known effort. It was never re-released in the UK. A DVD with both this movie and The Executioner 2 is available from Vinegar Syndrome.
14. The Funhouse: Another Tobe Hooper movie that Rob Zombie seems intent to making over and over again, only this one is actually entertaining. This was re-released uncut in 1987 and reclassified with the 15 rating in 2007. Many think that it made it on the list by mistake, as an alternative title for The Last House On Dead End Street is The Funhouse. This movie is relatively tame by comparison. You can get it from Shout! Factory.
15. Human Experiments: While this movie was never re-released in the UK, it was also never prosecuted. It was originally given an uncut rating by the BBFC when it was released in theaters in 1979. I guess demented prison doctors shocking their patients get no respect. You can get this from Ronin Flix.
16. I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses: Also known as Drop Dead, Dearest and Left for Dead, this movie is based on the case of Peter Demeter, a Canadian real estate developer convicted in 1974 of hiring a hitman named “The Duck” to murder his wife in what may be the longest trial in Canadian history. Even better, they were both trying to kill one another to collect a $1 million dollar insurance policy and while living in a halfway house, Demeter was charged with trying to arrange the kidnapping and murder of the son of his cousin, who was managing his affairs. It was re-released with a minute and six seconds cut in 1986.
17. Inferno: Argento’s classic follow-up to Suspiria was released uncut in UK cinemas, but twenty seconds needed to be shorn in 1993. Luckily, a 2010 re-release was uncut. What do you expect from a movie of constantly swirling images of murder and death itself showing up for the end of the movie? You can watch this on Shudder or get it from Blue Underground.
18. Killer Nun: I think just the title alone was enough to get this one on the list. 13 seconds were removed in 1993, but by 2006 it was re-released uncut. Just reading the first line of the IMDB description, “A demented nun sliding through morphine addiction into madness, whilst presiding over a regime of lesbianism, torture and death,” is enough to prove why it made it. You can get a copy from Blue Underground.
19. Last Stop On the Night Train: This 1975 Italian revenge film from Alan Lado wasn’t permitted in UK cinemas in 1976, but was eventually removed from the video nasty list in 1984 and re-released uncut in 2008.
20. The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue: Whether you call it by this title, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie or Don’t Open the Window, this film played with cuts for movie theaters, yet still made the list. It was re-released with nearly two minutes cut out in 1985 before an uncut version rose from the grave in 2002. An upcoming 4K re-release of this film is coming soon from Synapse Films.
21. Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker: This blast of weird came from William Asher, who directed Beach Blanket Bingo and episodes of I Love Lucy and Bewitched. Indeed, he was married to that show’s star, Elizabeth Montgomery, for some time. Somehow he was able to escape those happy films and shows to craft an Oedipal tale of utter depravity. It helps that the original director was Michael Miller, who had previously directed Jackson County Jail. This film just bleeds insanity and the Code Red version is sadly out of print. Someone needs to fix that. Also known as Night Warning and the Evil Protege.
22. Possession: This is the only video nasty where the lead actress, in this case Isabelle Adjani, won the Best Actress Award at Cannes. Here, she and Sam Neill endure a rapidly disintegrating relationship that somehow turns into a horror movie, complete with a tentacled beast designed by Carlo Rambaldi. One assumes all the violence between the actors felt a bit too real, landing this arthouse film in the list.
23. The Dorm That Dripped Blood: Also known as Pranks, the drill killing and spiked baseball bat attacks were enough to get this film on the nasty list. It has two directors, Jeffery Obrow, who went on to direct The Power and The Kindred, and Stephen Carpenter, who created the show Grimm. It’s also the film debut of Daphne Zuniga. You can get it from Synapse Films.
24. The Mountain of the Cannibal God: Sergio Martino. Stacey Keach. Ursula Andress. Cannibals. And the final ten minutes of this film, which are assuredly why it ended up on the video nasty list. Get this — a penis is cooked and eaten while a male villager has sex with a pig and a female local masturbates at the sight of it all. Oh yeah — and then Ursula is covered with orange honey by two naked female cannibals and fed her own brother. Obviously, it’s a cannibal film, so that means that it has lots of real animal death. Why? Ask the Italians.
25. Boogeyman II: Released as Revenge of the Bogeyman, this movie probably ended up on the list because 40 of its 79 minutes were taken from the first movie. Yes, I’ve actually paid for this movie more than once in multiple formats because I’m a moron and love bad films.
26. The Slayer: This kinda sorta slasher mixed with a Lovecraftian vibe probably freaked the fuck out of UK censors. It’s one weird movie, which means I totally adore it. In fact, it’s one of those films where you can pretty much write your own theory as to what it’s really about. You can get this from Arrow Video.
27. Terror Eyes: Released as Night School nearly everywhere else, this is a movie that I’ve claimed wasn’t gory enough, so obviously I’m a dangerous person who needs mental care. It’s not bad, but believe me — the VHS box art above is a million times better than the actual movie. You can get this from Warner Archive.
28. The Toolbox Murders: Supposedly based on a true story, this film was really based on Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Isn’t it ironic that Tobe directed the remake? It had about two minutes chopped out when it was re-released in 2000, but an uncut version is available now. You can get it from Blue Underground.
29. Unhinged: This slasher — about three women taken in by a strange family after an accident — isn’t anywhere near as horrifying as the other movies on this list. Yet here it remains — shockingly banned in the UK, as the US posters screamed. British audiences must have loved this, as a remake was released there in 2017.
30. Visiting Hours: A Canadian slasher that made it through UK theaters uncut yet raised the ire of censors on home video, despite mainstream actors like William Shatner and Lee Grant appearing in it. It even caused issues as late as 1989 when it was broadcast by ITV. You can grab it on a double disc — with Bad Dreams — from Shout! Factory.
31. The Witch Who Came From the Sea: This Matt Cimber film has what the UK censors determined to be “extreme sexual violence,” so the film was banned, although there is no evidence that it even made it into theaters. Starring Millie Perkins (The Diary of Anne Frank) and written by her husband Robert Thom (Death Race 2000), this movie concerns a woman who dreams of tying up muscular men and cutting them. Those fantasies soon become reality, as these things happen in 1970’s films. It’s also noteworthy for featuring Dean Cundey (Halloween, The Thing) as its director of photography, as well as its poster art ripping off Frank Frazetta’s cover for Vampirella #11. Arrow released it as part of their American Horror Project and it’s also available as a single blu ray, as well as on Amazon Prime.
32. Women Behind Bars: I think that the UK censors just reached a point where if they saw Jess Franco directed and Lina Romay starred in a movie, they automatically threw it on the video nasty list. You can get this movie from Blue Underground.
33. Zombie Creeping Flesh: Also known as Hell of the Living Dead, Nights of the Zombies, Dusk of the Dead and Virus, this Bruno Mattei directed film — written by the husband and wife duo of Claudio Fragrasso and Rossella Drudi — was supposed to present the lighter side of zombies. One thing I can tell you for sure — Goblin’s soundtrack is completely ripped off from their past films, including Contamination and Dawn of the Dead. It also has documentary footage taken from New Guinea, Island of Cannibals just to add some more zip. You can watch this on Amazon Prime or on a double disc from Blue Underground, along with the fantastic Rats: The Night of Terror.
Whew! We’re not done yet! There are still 82 Section 3 films that could not be prosecuted for obscenity but were liable to seizure and confiscation under a less obscene charge. Any tapes seized under Section 3 could be destroyed after distributors or merchants forfeited them. That’ll be a two-partner, so look forward to that in a few weeks.
To see our list of category 1 and 2 films, just check out Letterboxd.
Have a comment? Did I get something wrong? Please help me learn! Thanks for reading and let us know what your favorite video nasty is.