As we continue to restore and release Video Nasties as part of our mission statement, it often frustrates us to see so much of the coverage around the phenomenon being reported by those with minimal knowledge of the situation. We decided to conduct our own poll amongst true Nasty experts to bury all the other listicles and copy/paste junk in a deep, dark grave.
Here's a word of introduction from David Gregory, Co-Founder of Severin Films: "Unbeknownst to me when I was trying to watch as many of these films as I could on video before they were mercilessly snatched away from us by our government after a couple of blissful years film viewing freedom, untarnished by censor interference from our nanny state, that this list and its bizarre accompanying national scandal would play a major part in my life's journey. I was only 12 / 13 when the cull happened and to be honest if you'd asked me then I would have stated that it was the most important thing to be concerned about right now as the clock is ticking, far exceeding any school related interest or activity. But such an impression it made I'm still here licensing, restoring and releasing these movies when we get the rights or new elements surface and I keep commissioning documentaries about them or subjects relating to them and this peculiar era of Britishness. So when I see that ridiculous "Video nasties ranked!" clickbait article resurfacing time and again due to natural selection in my social algorhythms I get irked. The occasion of our re-release of NIGHTMARE(S IN A DAMAGED BRAIN) and Sarah Appleton's accompanying documentary DAMAGED: THE VERY BRITISH OBSCENITY OF DAVID HAMILTON-GRANT felt like the right time to consult a selection of venerable pundits to give a more informed clickbait appraisal of the forbidden 72. Harder than you might think to find a distinguished panel of experts who are both familiar with the ins and outs of that tabloid whipped hysteria to put them in that context but who also had seen ALL 72 of the films. So here is the rundown of the special few of the depraved and corrupted."
Marc Morris, Nucleus Films and co-author of The Art of the Nasty and Shock Horror - Astounding Artwork From The Video Nasty Era
Art Ettinger, Ultra Violent Magazine: "What a crazy good list of movies. I had a really hard time ranking them. I don't actively dislike ANY of these films. I tried not to think too hard and go with my gut while ranking them."
John Martin, Writer. John Martin has been writing about horror since the early 80s in UK fanzines including Samhain and continues to write for The Dark Side to this day. He published one of the first books examining the video nasties scandal, "Seduction of the Gullible" and its follow up "The Son Of Seduction of the Gullible."
Harvey Fenton, FAB Press: Harvey Fenton is the owner of the book publishing company FAB Press. FAB has been publishing lavish books on genre cinema since the 90s including books on definitive books on the works of Dario Argento, Abel Ferrara, Lucio Fulci, Ruggero Deodato, Mario Bava and Andy Milligan. FAB also published Kier-La Janisse's "House Of Psychotic Women" and the recent massive volume on London's Scala Cinema. Harvey's work in this field began back in the 80s with his fanzine, Flesh & Blood.
Lovely Jon is a DJ and film/music obsessive who alongside Gareth Godard (Cherrystones) founded the influential exploitation audio visual sound system Jigoku. Jon is very much a ‘child of the nasties’, growing up at the time of the cultural video boom and intertwining moral backlash (at its most pronounced whilst he was working at his local video shop in Hertfordshire and stockpiling tapes for himself). Jon has continued to represent the UK video scene throughout the decades as commentator and collector.
Warren Hart (most of the pics here are from his collection): "Child of the 70s, teenager of the 80s, it's now exactly 40 years since I started this nasty obsession, to watch and collect, it was the attraction to the unattainable, I needed to have what I was being told I couldn't... Things that haven't changed are my #1 and #72. My #1, will always be the Evil Dead. It was the spark, the catalyst to watch, collect, and generally fill my mind everything 72, from when I first saw the teaser trailer on the TV, to it's video release that motivated me to pester my old mam to rent a VCR, which she did, and The Evil Dead was our first rental, the first of what would become the 72."
Joe Rubin, co-owner of American boutique disc label Vinegar Syndrome. Among their multitude of restorations are a number of video nasties including THE BOOGEY MAN, FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN, DON'T GO IN THE WOODS and FROZEN SCREAM.
Rebekah McKendry, PHD, Fangoria's Colors of the Dark Podcast: "I’m Dr. Rebekah McKendry, and I’m proud to say I’ve seen all 72 video nasties. I first became enamored with the video nasty list after learning about them in the late 90s on The Young Ones TV show, and especially The Damned’s tribute song Video Nasty. As a teenager hearing about these films, I could only imagine what types of movies could be so extreme that a government decreed them illegal. What could be so detrimental to the human psyche that you could be arrested for just possessing a copy? I immediately knew I had to watch ALL of them, and I starting working my way through every video nasty title I could find at my local video store.
I went onto to work for Fangoria and Blumhouse, and eventually got a PhD focused entirely on horror films, all the while continuously adding to my nasty viewing repertoire. And several years ago, I finally completed viewing the entire list.
So looking back, did I find the most heinous abominations of cinema ever created? Did viewing all 72 of these extreme films leaved me a trembling shell of humanity? Nope, not a bit. I mostly found boundary-pushing, transgressive filmmakers who had a lot to say about politics, society, religion, and life.
My video nasty ranking was not an easy list to make, and I was constantly weighing several factors. For instance, even though some filmmakers may have been inexperienced or had limited budgets, I often have a genuine appreciation for what they were trying to create and therefore bumped them up on the list. Or in other cases, the film may have done something wildly landmark, reshaping horror film history, regardless of whether we consider it a 'well-made' movie or not (looking at you Blood Feast).
Thanks so much for reading. And if you enjoy my list and want to hear about more of my adventures in extreme horror cinema, please check out my podcast Fangoria’s Colors of the Dark for my regular cinematic ramblings."
David Kerekes is author with David Slater of Cannibal Error: Anti-Film Propaganda and the Video Nasties Panic of the 1980s, published by Headpress 2023. "At the top is The Devil Hunter but it could easily be Blood Rites or Axe or Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone!, films lacking the capacity to engage on a traditional art- emotional level and yet are compelling (to this viewer) for other reasons: they are cheap, demented, strange, obscure — aspects that facilitate the notion of ‘video nasties’ as something ‘other’, becoming collectively the thing that moral guardians had accused the ‘nasties’ of being all along. This is to say, in some perverse way, they are not films at all, but danger, psychotropic, unforgiving."
David Slater is co-author of See No Evil - Banned Films and Video Controversy (2000), Killing for Culture - From Edison to Isis A New History of Death on Film (2016), and Cannibal Error - Anti film Propaganda and the Video Nasties Panic of the 1980s (2023)
2. THE BEYOND
4. EVIL DEAD
5. LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE / LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE
6. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST
7. LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT
9. ANDY WARHOL'S FRANKENSTEIN / FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN
11. BLOOD BATH / BAY OF BLOOD
12. HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY
13. DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE
14. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE
15. CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE
16. DEAD AND BURIED
17. DRILLER KILLER
18. NIGHTMARE MAKER / BUTCHER BAKER NIGHTMARE MAKER
19. NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN / NIGHTMARE
20. THE FUNHOUSE
21. LATE NIGHT TRAINS / NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS
22. DEATH TRAP / EATEN ALIVE
23. HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK
24. CANNIBAL MAN
25. CANNIBAL FEROX
26. FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE
27. NIGHT OF THE DEMON
28. BLOODY MOON
29. ISLAND OF DEATH
30. THE BURNING
33. WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA
34. ZOMBIE CREEPING FLESH / HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD
35. BLOOD FEAST
36. THE BOGEY MAN / THE BOOGEY MAN
37. THE KILLER NUN
40. EXPOSE / HOUSE ON STRAW HILL
41. VISITING HOURS
42. GESTAPO'S LAST ORGY
43. TERROR EYES
44. TOOLBOX MURDERS
47. PRISONER OF THE CANNIBAL GOD / MOUNTAIN OF THE CANNIBAL GOD
48. THE SLAYER
49. DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT
50. NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES
52. DEEP RIVER SAVAGES / MAN FROM DEEP RIVER
53. WEREWOLF AND THE YETI
54. BEAST IN HEAT
56. FOREST OF FEAR
57. SS EXPERIMENT CAMP
58. BLOOD RITES / THE GHASTLY ONES
59. HUMAN EXPERIMENTS
60. FACES OF DEATH
61. FROZEN SCREAM
63. DON’T GO IN THE WOODS
64. DEVIL HUNTER
65. DON’T GO NEAR THE PARK
67. MARDI GRAS MASSACRE
68. WOMEN BEHIND BARS
69. I MISS YOU HUGS AND KISSES
70. LOVE CAMP 7
71. CANNIBAL TERROR
72. REVENGE OF THE BOGEYMAN