doin' the nasties
Throughout 2017 I ran a column at Daily Grindhouse, "Doin' The Nasties". It chronicles my experience as I go through all 72 banned films on the UK's "Video Nasties" list of the 1980's. I have since stopped the column in order to focus on writing a book on the subject and its significance within the larger historical context of cinema censorship, sensationalist marketing, and the nature of cult VHS collecting.
21 Apr 2017
The first entry in the Doin' The Nasties column at Daily Grindhouse provides the historical context for the infamous Video Nasties list, as well as how the films will be approached during the course of the column.
"In the same vein that people eagerly read banned books simply because they once fell outside the narrow, extreme ideologies of the religious right, so do viewers consume Video Nasties. In the course of watching these 72 films, some insight may be gained into the nature of moral panic and why our societies fear what they do."
28 Apr 2017
"On the surface it is exactly what the title promises, but grindhouse cineastes may find their own low-budget Travis Bickle in Reno Miller."
4 May 2017
"It’s not a spoiler to say that there are multiple killers in this film, because its apparent in the first 10 minutes that anyone who might be next in line to inherit the Countess’ spoils is a high priority on the kill list for literally everyone else in the movie. It’s an 84 minute free-for-all, with a total of 13 murders, each one more out-of-left-field than the last."
12 May 2017
"Special effects master Giovanni Corridori, who also did the effects for Argento’s TENEBRAE (1982) and OPERA (1987), delivers on the gory goods with spring-loaded intestines erupting alongside gushing blood with every explosion. It’s not as audacious as the effects found in your average Fulci film, but it was enough to drop the jaws of the National Viewers and Listeners Association, who cited it’s extreme violence as unsuitable for home viewing."
19 May 2017
"Krog’s eerie score has aged as well as any synth/trax soundtrack from the late 70s, which is to say that it’s a delight for genre fans. The opening titles in particular are reminiscent of the now-classic “Tubular Bells” music from THE EXORCIST, but still have a distinct identity that fits with the tone of the film. Krog’s work here is definitely underappreciated and deserves a tip of the hat and a place alongside the music of Goblin or Philip Glass in horror soundtrack immortality."
revenge of the boogeyman
26 May 2017
"REVENGE OF THE BOOGEYMAN is one of only two examples of a sequel becoming subject to local bans and confiscation under the Video Recordings Act of 1984, along with its prequel. The reason for landing on the list is an underwhelming one: every shocking scene from the first movie is included during the first half of its sequel."
2 June 2017
"...as with most nunsploitation films, it’s not the act, it’s the unholiness of it all. These are women of God, and the offensiveness lies in their dropping their rosaries and clutching daggers instead. The outrage comes from seeing the nuns keeping their habits on, but shedding the rest of their robes and writhing without a shred of modesty. In this respect, KILLER NUN meets all expectations for boldness."
9 June 2017
"Tongues, hearts, brains, eyeballs, and congealed viscera abound in the film’s 67 minute runtime because once again, Lewis knew his audience and he knew that the people not only craved blood, they wanted more than a fleeting glimpse. As such, there are plenty of slow pans over the dead, with stark close ups of each and every wound visited upon them. Hitchcock may have gone for hearts and minds, but Lewis goes straight for the jugular."
16 June 2017
"The thing was, the youth loved the Video Nasties. Not only did it become something of a badge of honor to say that one got their hands on a ripped copy of CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE or EVIL DEAD, but sitting through the films and withstanding their most offensive scenes was (and still is) something to brag about. One of the most well-known examples of the feverish coveting of the notorious 72 banned films is the punk jam “Nasty,” performed by The Damned."
23 June 2017
"Fulci is consistent in both his strengths and his flaws; what his films lack in character development (Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, and Richard Johnson have nothing to work with, script-wise) and plot, they make up for in stunning visuals and uncanny effects work. But it’s that very suspension of narrative that allows for absolutely bonkers scenes like the shark-versus-zombie underwater throw-down that occurs in ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS. "
night of the demon
30 June 2017
"Most penetration injuries are incredibly brief, instead lingering on the blood flowing from the wound and the dying victims moaning face. In more capable hands like Mario Bava’s this approach can still be jarring, as is the case in A BAY OF BLOOD. But in NIGHT OF THE DEMON, Wasson doesn’t seem to be firing for artistic effect. "
7 July 2017
"THE BEYOND (and Fulci’s giallo work in general) focuses not so much on the meaning of moments, but their effect. Neither character nor context is essential to the plot; a man can be beaten and crucified with little preamble and still have a meaningful death, in that the death is grating to the senses. It all culminates in a recalibration of expectations as a viewer, a realization that while many great horror films have steady character development and satisfying story arcs, these elements aren’t necessary for a memorable film with high replay value."
14 July 2017
"An interesting component of TENEBRAE is it’s self-awareness, particularly on giallo’s representations of women. Not only is there a brief scene involving a reporter drilling Peter Neal on his depictions of women as victims, but the film itself is filled with subtext by way of the killer’s struggles with female empowerment (in one vision of his, an aggressive woman shoves the heel of her phallic stiletto into his mouth), and his method of penetrating her in his fantasies with a lengthy knife. When the killer himself is portrayed as problematic, stark depictions of his misogynistic murder spree become less so. "
20 July 2017
"Both the boldness and the resulting controversy in LOVE CAMP 7 lies less in gore and sexuality, and more in the sum of its parts and how provocative it was in its time. It’s the first film to sexually exploit the internment camp setting and to begin fetishizing the SS uniform as the ultimate symbol of peak sadomasochistic violence (which is then mixed with pornography for maximum titillation). "
28 July 2017
"While the movie has plenty of gruesome demises (final body count is 10 victims) throughout its 91 minute runtime, the raft massacre scene is its most infamous legacy, containing its boldest violence. In a span of 45 seconds, Cropsey manages to viciously slay a handful of teens with more than enough blood flow to excite any gorehound."
15 Aug 2017
"Far be it from me to compare INFERNO to the likes of PICKPOCKET (1959), but French filmmaker Robert Bresson’s sensory outlook upon storytelling applies here, and to most films of Argento in general: “I’d rather people feel a film, before understanding it.” While Argento parts creative ways with Bresson at the junction of violence depiction...they share a common filmmaking sensibility, one that emphasizes response over structure."
23 Aug 2017
"Make no mistake, though: THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is exploitation, albeit with something to say. In fact, the genre’s blunt-force delivery lends itself to the serious implications it makes with regard to vengeance, toxic patriarchy (via Krug and Junior’s relationship) and even violence as part of the human condition.
29 Aug 2017
"...Chatter on violence sits in the periphery of every other scene. Unfortunately, that critique gets muddled in the relative tameness with which the filmmaker tackles the subject matter. Wes Craven’s cinéma vérité-infused approach is confrontational enough to provoke audiences into questioning whom they truly identify with onscreen and whether they like what they see in the characters (and by extension, themselves), whereas Lado’s more refined thriller was too timid to truly stick the landing and make an impact.
5 Sept. 2017
"While THE BEYOND remains the greatest film of the “Gates of Hell” trilogy, Fulci’s talent for atmosphere finds its most closed-quarters expression in THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY. Though he borrowed from everything from Lovecraft to SUSPIRIA to THE SHINING, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY is wholly candid and wholly Fulci, warts and all.
12 Sept. 2017
"Within the charismatic failure of MARDI GRAS MASSACRE lies a single success: that of William Metzo’s dedicated performance as the killer, John. Channeling WHITE ZOMBIE—era Bela Lugosi with the intensity of character that made BLOOD FEAST’s Fuad Ramses such a campy delight, Metzo furrows his brows and just goes for it."
19 Sept. 2017
"Just as gorehounds are encouraged to seek out splatterfest forerunners like BLOOD FEAST, Mastorakis’ lewd cash-grab is of chronological importance to film connoisseurs of a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence."
27 Sept. 2017
"Audiences looking for a complete resolution to the narrative will be disappointed, and audiences looking for the sort of shock-and-awe brutality deserving of inclusion on the Nasties list will be disappointed. Considering the violence in the film, there’s no reason for it to be regarded as “unsuitable for home viewing” while the far bloodier Nazi-hunting thriller THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL didn’t make the cut."
3 Oct. 2017
"An argument could be made for FACES OF DEATH’s recognition as more arthouse than grindhouse. The film is presented as real-deal-Holyfield vignettes of death and stripping out the usual genre safeguards of comic relief and merciful edits during the most brutal moments, effectively fortifying the graphic images onscreen.
10 Oct. 2017
"Plot-wise, MOUNTAIN is one of the more cohesive cannibal films, that utilizes the flesh feast as more of a flourish than a crutch. It’s all too easy for the jaded Deodato or Fulci fan to yawn at the ROMANCING THE STONE-for-deviants vibe that this film gives off, but it entertains and has serious replay value."
17 Oct. 2017
"THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA shares more than Technicolor visuals with Anna Biller’s 2016 sleeper hit; both films infuse woman-centric themes within their respective quirk and kitsch. Matt Cimber’s film is an interesting time capsule of Second-Wave Feminism emerging from the last vestiges of West Coast hippie culture, complete with revenge fantasies and ruminations on male violence and female trauma."