Thursday, June 22, 2017

Junesploitation Day 22: Video Nasties!

For some, a simple warning is never enough!

43 comments:

  1. Romano Scavolini's NIGHTMARE (1981, 97 min.) on Amazon Prime for the first time.

    Most of the titles that wound up on the 'Video Nasties' list are poorly made flicks that anyone with a sense and love for cinema could dismiss as inoffensive. "Nightmare" is one of the few 'VN' movies I've seen that I could see myself understanding why censors (not siding with them but seeing things from their perspective) would hit the panic button. It's a psychological thriller/slasher that occasionally flirts with (and a couple of times crosses) the line. There's a nihilistic, sleazy vibe to this tale of a mental patient (Baird Stafford, who looks like a less-talented relative of Dylan Baker's) leaving behind his New York City peep show booth, doctor, treatment and work-release job to return to the Florida home where he suffered (real or imagined) a childhood trauma that is making him kill against his will. You'll have to sit through 95 minutes to find out if that beheading of a woman (shown t̶w̶i̶c̶e̶ thrice in slow motion) really happened or is the product of a sick mind. Also, CHESS-PLAYING-COMPUTER-FROM-"THE-THING"-SPLOITATION! :-P

    Without completely spoiling "Nightmare," it's the type of humorless low-budget production in which small children are exposed by irresponsible filmmakers to potential psychological harm (as either victims of the killer or doing nasty things to him in self-defense) for our so-called amusement. It's fitting that neither Stafford or the main kid (C.J. Cooke's boy-who-cries-wolf C.J.) went on to have an acting career afterward, and that Tom Savini's consulting for the practical gore effects got co-opted by the producers for a 'Created by' screen credit Savini has since legally forced them to remove (it's present in the version streaming on Amazon). I hate to sound like Siskel & Ebert during their early 80's 'horror movies are evil' crusade, but I don't need to be a parent or have small children to identify when a slasher's entertainment value is superseded by its sleaze quota. I liked "Nightmare" as a perfectly-executed little horror movie, but this is one I never want to rewatch or think about ever again.

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    1. This is easily one of my top 10 favorite slashers, if you can call it one. It has more in common with the second half of When A Stranger Calls than most other slasher movies.

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  3. Video Nasties: Draconian Days (2014)- directed by Jake West

    This a follow-up to the documentary Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape. DRACONIAN DAYS chronicles the period following the passage of the Video Recordings Act of 1984, which was the culmination of the video nasty panic. The practices and politics of the BBFC under the leadership of the American James Ferman, whose tenure ended in the late 1990s, are covered thoroughly without getting tiresome.

    Beyond the issue of censorship, and undoubtedly of greater interest to most people, is the way movie fans went about getting access to the banned films. Smuggling films from mainland Europe(especially The Netherlands), copying videos for trading or selling, unauthorized public screenings, and fanzines became part of the culture of British horror fans. The illicit nature of some of these activities brought people into conflict with the law, sometimes with unpleasant results. The smugglers and tape sellers, in particular, lived in fear. I absolutely loved the segment about a zealous police officer in Manchester; the mock movie trailer made about him is hilarious. As for the quality of the videos fans were watching, they are some of the worst transfers from one source to another I have ever seen. That did, strangely enough, contribute to the movies' mystique. The way fans treasured their copies, however crappy they were, is quite poignant, though. From my own experience of having extensive digital access to films, there a tendency to take movies for granted. The passion fostered by the hunt is generally not present these days.

    Video Nasties: Draconian Days is one the best movies I have watched in 2017.

    I know this is off-track, but it occupies my thoughts writing this. I am watching The Wall on Turner Classic Movies this morning. Being an obsessed Pink Floyd fan, this was definitely one of the most important films of my teenage years back 1990s. Seeing the film now and in the context of a classic films channel is making me feel old. But not as much as life is, though. Are there films for any of you that remind you that you are no longer young?

    A Casual Listener

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    1. They play Nirvana and Pearl Jam on Classic Rock radio stations now and Die Hard will be 30 years old next July. Some kids getting ready for college this year were born in 2000, the same year High Fidelity came out and made me feel nostalgic. Yeah, time is flying by!

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  4. The Beyond (1981)

    CGI still can't touch 35+ year old practical effects. Seriously, I love the effects work in this.

    The Last House on the Left (1972)

    Yes, I watched The Virgin Spring and the 2009 remake before having seen this. While I liked it ok, my sure to be unpopular opinion is that I liked the remake more. I haven't seen the remake since it was in theaters but I seem to recall it taking more time with the aspect of turning the tables on the bad guys which is the part I find the most interesting. By the time the original gets to that point there's under 20 minutes left in the movie. Also the less said about the comic stylings of the sheriff, the deputy, and the chicken truck the better.

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  5. House By The Cemetery (1981)

    I have always been a fan of haunted house movies. Just the gothic atmosphere, the history of what has been their before and never knowing what is in the next room or hiding in the walls. Or in this case basement.

    And with this movie I love that Fulci does a strange gore filled approximation. The fact that it was the Freudstein mansion, and that Fulci attributed a quote from Henry James, it just adds to this dream like quality that somethings off kilter.



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    1. Watching this one as well. My first Fulci feature :)

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    2. Hope you enjoy! I liked it a lot.

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  6. Island of Death (1976)

    In the Star Trek mirror universe, they put this on instead of Mamma Mia!

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  7. The Burning (1981)
    A showcase of Tom Savini's effects work.
    If you enjoy the Friday the 13th films, you owe it to yourself to see The Burning.

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  8. THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE (1974)
    Based on the title, I always assumed this was some concert film. No, it’s free-wheelin’ sex and drugs in early ‘70s England, eventually leading to zombies. More about mood and atmosphere than gore, another example of how silly the video nasty controversy was.

    THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA (1976)
    A female serial killer stalks and murders men in a small seaside town. Half the movie is trying to be Hitchcock, while the other half wants to be I Spit On Your Grave. Neither half works. The movie is way too serious and self-important to be any fun.

    MARDI GRAS MASSACRE (1978)
    A psycho is slicing and dicing prostitutes as sacrifices to an Aztec god. Wholly cheap and incompetent, this is like one of those nudie movies Ed Wood made just before he died, but not as good.

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  9. Blood Feast (1963)

    Y'know, maybe Herschell Gordon Lewis just isn't for me. This is the first of his movies I've seen, but it turned out to be exactly what I expected: heaping helpings of gruesome gore in service of not much of a movie. The word "movie" is actually kind of a stretch, as it runs only 67 minutes (and feels very repetitive to boot).

    Fuad Ramses is a caterer in Miami specializing in Egyptian cuisine who murders women to serve in his exotic dishes. He's played by Mal Arnold, a 30-year-old actor with his hair and eyebrows spray painted white for some reason, and to call his performance campy would be to severely undersell it. RuPaul would probably tell him to take it down a notch. Some of the comedy is intentional, and I can appreciate what Lewis was doing, but the tone is all over the place and the focus on splatter just gets kind of boring after a while. I'm still curious enough to give Lewis's Two Thousand Maniacs a shot, so I guess there's something to be said for this one. It's not terrible, but it's just not terribly good either.

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    1. If the way Fuad Ramses says "Have you ever had an Egyptian feast?!?!" doesn't electrify you, Blood Feast might not be your thing.

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  10. Evilspeak (1981)

    Banned for gore and satanism! Hey, it does have A LOT of those things. And bountiful decapitations. It's glorious!

    This movie manages to be both fun AND disturbing and I loved it for that. It's really well done and totally unique. I really felt for poor Coopersmith and this movie actually got me to root for him to conjure Satan for vengeance! It's a great movie and I can't recommend it enough.

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    1. The best last fifteen minutes ever

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    2. Man, it is 100% earned and 100% BADASS.

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  11. Human Experiments (1979, dir. Gregory Goodell)
    Neat! Bar singer Linda Haynes is wrongfully convicted of a crime, and sent to a mental facility/work camp overseen by psycho psychologist Geoffrey Lewis. Typical women-in-prison antics follow, and atypical everything else. This feels like a really unhinged '70s TV movie. Strongly recommended to anyone who thinks that that sounds appealing.

    The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982, Jeffrey Obrow & Stephen Carpenter)
    Horrible deathly dull slasher crap. This is one of the lowest slashers I've seen, but it's not as bad as Hide and Go Shriek, and the last few minutes have some real surprises. Still, terrible.

    White Cannibal Queen (1980, dir. Franco Prosperi & Jess Franco)
    Holy moley, this movie stretches the criteria for being a narrative feature close to its breaking point. Porno Holocaust is a movie that does not count as a movie, because it forgets to have any of the qualities a movie has to have. W.H.C. has just the absolute bare minimum of activity to count as a story, and not one iota more. It's nearly abstracts story through it's simplicity and slowness in a way that approaches being dream-like, and it's kind of thrilling for that, really.

    Don’t Go Near the Park (1981, dir. Lawrence David Foldes)
    Pure insanity. The word "unhinged" is applicable here again. This is a movie that feels like it doesn't understand what the rules about what you should put in a movie are. It's not a movie for children or for adults, but incorporates the elements of both. This was also Linnea Quigley's first movie! Shocker, she's naked by the time we're five minutes in. She also worked with this director again, on Chaybee fave The Young Warriors. I see a lot of people (including outside of this site) saying about several movies "This was a Video Nasty?!?", and I think I get why now... about the first thing that happens in Park is a grown man walking up behind a 14-or-so year-old kid and strangling with a piece of rope. I think it was more about imitable behaviors than about disturbing images; a genuine case of a select group believing that unwashed society at large was impressionable to the point of being dangerously stupid. Good for them! We wouldn't have had Video Nasties day without 'em.

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    1. What the fuck does W.H.C. stand for? White Hannibal Cween?? W.C.Q., obverously.

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  12. Evilspeak (1981, dir. Eric Weston)

    It takes its time (not that I'm complaining, it's entertaining throughout), but when it really unleashes in the end, it doesn't hold back. Great gory fun.

    Also, Sunnydale is mentioned at the very end. Is this part of the Whedonverse!?

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  13. Lisa, Lisa aka Axe aka California Axe Massacre aka The Axe Murders (1974, dir. Frederick R. Friedel)

    I'll be honest, the main reasons for this choice were the movie's availability on YouTube and its 65 minute runtime.

    Three criminals decide to hole up in a farmhouse and take its inhabitants, young Lisa and her paralyzed grandfather, hostage. Based on all those titles, guess what happens next.

    It's competently shot but ofter strangely edited, with weird insert shots and several ADR'd conversations where the character speaking is never on screen. That, coupled with the eerie score, gives it a creepy and unsettling feeling. I feel I may have gotten more out of the movie than its makers put into it. The fake blood used is orange, so Doug shouldn't bother.

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    1. That should read "often strangely edited".

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  14. The Burning (1981) with Fthismovie commentary

    "Man, this guy is burned so bad. He's cooked. A fucking Big Mac"

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  15. Possession (1981) (First Time Viewing):

    Overreact much!? Good grief, these drama queens need to take a deep breath, get a grip, and work out their problems like adults! Sheesh I have my own problems but you don't see me flailing around in alleyways or manifesting tentacle monsters about it!

    All kidding aside I think this may be one of the best movies I've ever seen. I've never seen anything like it. Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill give two of the most physical performances ever committed to film. If you want to see some insanity that escalates quickly to 11 then stays there for an entire runtime, see Possession. I need to see it at least one more time to try to unpack it. What a movie!

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    1. I think watching Possession and liking it is one of the strongest indicators of intellegence there is.

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    2. Only to be negated by having the worst Die Hard rankings of all time :) Possession is a legit, crazy ass watch. Adjani is a goddess.

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    3. Thanks Daniel. I always knew I was a genius!

      @Chaybee. I expected nothing less! Never let it go! I'm telling you 5 is a good action movie! 3,1,5,2,4.

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    4. Haha! Yeah, I gotta keep on you bro. I'll say it again...insanity.

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    5. It's my third Junesploitation, I've seen more than 100 new-to-me movies during them, and Possession is easily my favorite of them all. I still don't understand half of it, but I'm mesmerized by it nonetheless.

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    6. Today was my first watch of this too! Damn. I feel sad, and dirty, and confused... But that was legit amazing.

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  16. The Driller Killer (1979)
    Really sleazy movie about a poor New York artist's descent into serial-killing madness. There's just a grime of oppression and filth in every shot in this movie. It takes a bit to get going, but it certainly does what the title says.

    While it gets pretty vicious with the whole drill stuff, I found it interesting that it was originally put on the list for its graphic poster of a man with a drill going into his head. Guess they were really sold on that image for the promotional material.

    Overall, it's not amazing, but the atmosphere is well done, and the performances are as weird as they come.

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    1. The most memorable aspect of The Driller Killer for me was the desperation of Reno. As his relationship falls apart and his art fails to sell, he collapses mentally and emotionally. It also does not help that his girlfriend paid the bills. Abel Ferrara takes his performance very close to the edge of insanity.

      A Casual Listener

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  17. A Bay of Blood (1971)

    Well, I missed out on Italian Horror day and this was on YouTube. It had everything you need for Junesploitation! Murder! Sex! Plots to gain property!

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  18. Possession (1981)

    Damn well that was one of the best movies I've ever seen. I feel sad. I'm gonna need to chew on this for a bit. 10 convulsive Sam Neills out of 10.

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  19. Antropophagus (1980, dir. Joe D'Amato)

    Because my #Junesploitation has been unofficially dedicated to George Eastman, I thought it only right that I watch this movie that he stars in as well as for which he wrote the screenplay. A group of people (including Tisa Farrow) vacation on an island which happens to be inhabited by Eastman, playing a sort-of mutant killer. The gore is bonkers but the rest of the movie is kind of a drag. The image with which I'm most familiar is practically the last thing in the movie. Not mad I saw it, but not a movie I love immediately.

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    1. Now that you've seen the movie, don't forget to buy the throw pillow!

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    2. Ha! 1) That's the exact image I was talking about and 2) I legit want that pillow.

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  20. The Exorcist

    Tonight I went original video nastie style, I went to my banned 54 Vhs collection and thought lets see what stands out, living here in the UK The Exorcist was pulled by Warner to avoid all the stuff going on making this hardest to find most expensive collectible VHS I owned, I got mine before the Video Nastie nonesense started but after these Vhs were for sale for around £100 pounds up to £200 for a mint one, most Nasties was around £30 to £60 on average for original tapes, I was actually in a Film Fair in Manchester when it was raised by the police with a bag full of Banned Vhs tapes, I managed to sneak out the back door to avoid getting arrested, one of my close friends wasent so lucky and they also went to his house and confiscated 8 Vhs players and all his tapes, they burned all the tapes on the banned list and he never got them back, The Exorcist was the one he was most upset to loose

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    1. Real-life war tales from the censorship wars by stupid idiots. Glad you didn't end up in the smaller, Dennis. If you had then your head would have spun a different way. :-)

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    2. Shit yeah, i had all my films in the attic in boxes hidden away,best hiding place I could find without storage, I was genuinely scared

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  21. Was this during the period when Constable James Anderton was in Manchester? The documentary Video Nasties: Draconian Days mentions that Manchester was a difficult area for VHS sellers and collectors to operate in.

    A Casual Listener

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    1. Exactly yes, I lived through that rubbish, the Manchester film fairs before this were legendary, it was actually quite scary when Police get involved

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