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During the run-up to the publication of the DPP list, action was taken independently by county Police Constabularies, to confiscate films that they felt might constitute an offence, if possessed for distribution or sale, under parts 2 or 3 of the Obscene Publications Act 1977. Some Constabularies published lists of films liable for seizure, others pounced first and asked questions later. Many of the films seized were to end up on the DPPs list, but others did not. Below is a list of those films not listed by the DPP that were either confiscated, or threatened with confiscation, prior to the publication of the DPP list. This is not complete, but gives some indication of the variety of material seized in the chaos running up to the Video Recording Act 1984.

BASKET CASE (USA, 1982) Directed by Frank Henenlotter
Cult, ultra low-budget monster movie with a 42nd-street grindhouse setting, the old ‘evil twin in the basket’ plot device and some gory and slick special effects on what must have been a miniscule budget. The movie was released uncut on Palace home video, and seized by a number of police forces, including Hampshire. No prosecutions were ever brought. The Cinema version, released as an X certificate in 1982 was cut, as was the subsequent video release post VRA, by Palace Home Video in 1987. Although the BBFC requested some 35 seconds of cuts, the video version is some 5 minutes shorter than the uncut Tartan Video version that was finally passed uncut in 1999, suggesting that some material was pre-cut by Palace.

BLOOD FOR DRACULA (Italy, 1973) Directed by Paul Morrissey
Companion piece to the banned Flesh for Frankenstein, Blood For Dracula is a similarly kinky, well made, political and beautifully shot effort, although it is not as gory as it’s sister effort. The pre-VRA version was released by VIPCO, and was uncut, as was the Cinema certified ‘X’ version. One of the most commonly seized but not prosecuted titles, Blood For Dracula spent a number of years in non-certified limbo, before being re-certified uncut for the First Independent release in 1995.

BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL (Spain, 1972) Directed by Carlos Aured
Spanish Giallo-style murder mystery with the jolly giant of Spanish horror movies, Paul Nashy, in a minor roll. This effort contains one or two gory set pieces, but was so obscure it’s difficult to see what alerted the police to it. It was certainly seized regularly, as at one point it was listed in the trade magazine ‘Video World’ as one of the official DPP-listed titles, although this was apparently erroneous. The Canon video release was uncut and not certified. It became unavailable in 1985 once the Video Recordings Act came into play, and has remained unavailable since.

CANNIBAL (Italy, 1976) Directed by Ruggero Deodato
Deodato’s dry-run for Cannibal Holocaust is a much flimsier affair than his later tour-de-force and reminds the viewer of compatriot Umberto Lenzi’s earlier, and funnier Deep River Savages which is unsurprising given that both movies starred Ivan Rassimov and Me Me Lay. Certified X with cuts by the BBFC for a cinema release in 1977 (as THE LAST CANNIBAL WORLD), Derann Video released the film uncut, and it was seized by a number of forces including Cambridgeshire, but the only prosecution resulted in a not guilty verdict. Subsequently the film remained in uncertified limbo before a version, cut by around 2 and a half minutes was eventually passed by the BBFC in 2003.

CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (Italy, 1980) Directed by Lucio Fulci
Fulci’s follow-up to ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS is a slower, more atmospheric movie that combined zombie mythology with the sort of Lovecraftian elements that would really come to the fore in THE BEYOND and THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, as well as some impressive gore. Eagle Films released a cut version with an X certificate for a theatrical run in 1981, and the VIPCO release on video was essentially the same – and police seized it anyway, and it was included on some trade magazine prohibited lists for a while, but never actually appeared on the official DPP list. Subsequent video releases have been cut by over 2 minutes, although the fact that it was never successfully prosecuted meant that the BBFC passed the film uncut on VIPCO/Horror Video in 2001.

DAWN OF THE MUMMY (Egypt/Italy 1981) Directed by Frank Agama
Crazy mummy film that owes more to the movies of Lucio Fulci than it does to the movies of Hammer, with some headache-inducing acting but which also contains some gory scenes of mummy cannibalism. Originally released uncut by Videospace, it was seized by a number of Police Forces including Greater Manchester Police and was withdrawn in 1985. Subsequent versions on Apex were cut by 1 minute 43 seconds. In 2003 the BBFC passed an uncut version for Anchor Bay.

DEMENTED (USA, 1980) Directed by Arthur Jeffreys
Low-budget home-invasion thriller with some gory deaths but not a lot else to remember or stand it out from a lot of similar video dreck, although the rape-revenge plotline and a few similarities to the far more notorious I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, may have brought it to the attention of the police. The pre-VRA version released on media was withdrawn after the Video Recordings Act came into force. The BBFC certified version, released by Apex, was cut by almost 1 and a half minutes. . Demented was one of the movies included in Mary Whitehouses’s infamous compilation tape played to Tory MPs at their 1984 party conference.

THE EXTERMINATOR (USA, 1980) Directed by James Glickenhaus
James Glickenhaus’s rough-edged vigilante thriller with the Vietnam prologue, which hits harder than anything in PLATOON (1984) or FULL METAL JACKET (1987), was one of the few straight thrillers to end up busted by the police – It had been cut for its theatrical release and the Intervision video was the same, cut version. Subsequent releases, including one in 2000 have all been cut – the last version by 22 seconds to the infamous ‘beheading’ sequence.

FRIDAY THE 13TH (USA, 1980) Directed by Sean Cunningham
Not much needs to be said about this, the ‘Gone with the Wind’ of gore movies and the archetypal body count film, that hasn’t already been said. The film was passed uncut for cinema distribution in 1980 and subsequent video releases have also been uncut according to the BBFC. Seized by Hampshire Police but never prosecuted.

FRIDAY the 13TH PART 2 (USA, 1982) Directed by Steve Miner
Seized by Hampshire Police in the same raid they confiscated the original, Steve Miner’s sequel was shorn of almost all its gore by the MPAA in the USA and it was this truncated effort which was submitted for a BBFC X certificate for theatrical release in 1981. CIC video pre-cut the movie further, and all subsequent releases have been pre-cut, although the Paramount 2001 re-release has some 18 seconds of material re-instated.

THE HILLS HAVE EYES (USA, 1977) Directed by Wes Craven
Seized by Lancashire police but never subject to prosecution, Wes Craven’s hard-hitting horror thriller and follow-up to the even more intense Last house on the Left. World of Video 2000 would have been cheesed off to find that their release, 2 seconds shorter than the BBFC X certificate version that played in cinemas, attacting the attention of the police. Recently re-issued on DVD in the UK with some of the cut material re-instated.

I DRINK YOUR BLOOD (USA, 1972) Directed by David Durstan
First released on video in the UK on a heavily cut Media home video, this early 70’s cult gorefest about rabid hippies and tainted meat pies is a great little film, well made and delivering some impressive splatter on a zero budget. Once Media went out of business, the title became unobtainable. Another movie ripe for re-certification. May have been the blueprint for the infinitely less impressive but official resident of the video nasties list ‘Forest of Fear’. I Drink your Blood was one of the movies included in Mary Whitehouses’s infamous compilation tape played to Tory MPs at their 1984 party conference.

KILLER'S MOON (UK, 1978) Directed by Allan Burkinshaw
Proof if proof were really needed that a British version of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was probably a bad idea – this terminally cheesy and thoroughly grubby psycho-drama set in the Lake District and pitching 4 escaped loonies against a busload of sixth-form girlies probably should have found it’s way onto the official list, but was never actually prosecuted, though a few police forces did confiscate copies. The movie did, astonishingly receive an X certificate without cuts for a theatrical run in the UK in 1978, and the inter-ocean video release was similarly uncut. Uncertified on video, containing material that would be contrary to the BBFC’s own guidelines and generally a shabby effort, the chances of this reappearing any time soon uncut are zero.

MACABRE (Italy, 1982) Directed by Lamberto Bava
Macabre was one of the movies included in Mary Whitehouses’s infamous compilation tape played to Tory MPs at their 1984 party conference. Bava Jnr’s first movie is a weird, but impressive variation on Repulsion, but watch out for the ending! Originally released by our friends at Go Video and available uncut, it was a short-term addition to a couple of Constabulary forfiture lists. Now available uncut.

MADMAN (USA, 1982) Directed by Joe Giannone
Seized by Hampshire Police, but returned to it’s owner without being subject to prosecution, Madman is a very low-budget but creepy, well shot and tense take on FRIDAY THE 13TH, with a couple of very gory set pieces. Initially released uncut by VRO, it ceased to be available when that company ceased trading, but has recently been re-released uncut in the UK on DVD.

MANIAC (USA, 1980) Directed by William Lustig
The censorship hassles of Lustig’s grim and plotless splatter movie are worthy of an essay for themselves. Rejected by the BBFC for cinema cerification in 1981, Intervision still released the movie (although virtually every one of Tom Savini’s eye-watering effects were removed) without a certificate. It was seized by a number of police forces, including Greater Manchester, Lancashire and others, probably on the back of the lurid publicity for the film Stateside. As it was uncertified, the movie became unobtainable after 1985, and Intervision ceased trading shortly thereafter. It took another 13 years before Exploited Films submitted the film for video certification only to see it rejected a second time. With admirable persistence, Exploited went through the appeals process and were eventually rewarded in 2000, when the film was eventually passed with ‘just’ 58 seconds of cuts.

MOTHER'S DAY (USA, 1981) Directed by Charles Kaufman
Listed on Greater Manchester Police’s list of titles liable for forfiture, Charles Kaufman’s heavy-handed satire cum psycho-thriller was also erroneously listed on some of the earliest video nasties list. Appearing on VTC uncut, having been rejected for a BBFC theatrical certificate, Mother’s Day became unavailable in the UK when the Video Recordings Act came into force and remains in limbo.

NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS (Spain, 1975) Directed by Armand De Ossorio
Listed on Greater Manchester Police’s list of titles liable for forfiture, this, one of Ossorio’s outstanding ‘Blind Dead’ films, had never been released in the UK before it’s video premiere thanks to Archer Video. Archer was one of those labels that lasted about 20 minutes, and the movie was eventually re-released, cut by 1 minute 6 seconds, as ‘DON'T GO OUT AT NIGHT’ in 1987.

ROSEMARY'S KILLER (USA, 1981) Directed by Joe Zito
Joe Zito’s tense, professional and splatter-laden slasher movie with Tom Savini’s juicy effects work is one of the best of the slasher movie crop. Not that it was beyond the long arm of the law, as Manchester police, among others, seized the movie at one point. The movie had received an X certificate from the BBFC after cuts were made (mainly to the bayonet in the head sequence) and Entertainment In Video released the same version. It has been unavailable in the UK since 1985.

SUPERSTITION (USA, 1981) Directed by James Roberson
Listed on Greater Manchester Police’s list of titles liable for forfiture, Superstition is something of a low-budget gem, a tense supernatural splatter film with some impressive special effects, a nice score and really delivers on the splatter front. Initially released uncut by VTC but without a certificate, the movie was withdrawn with the coming of the Video Recordings Act. It was re-issued as ‘THE WITCH’ by Stablecane in 1986, and was passed uncut by the BBFC.

TERROR EXPRESS (Italy, 1979) Directed by Ferdinando Baldi
Pretty sleazy re-make of the earlier, and banned Late Night Trains, itself a re-make of Craven’s LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Welcome to the incestuous world of Italian exploitation movies. Not as unpleasant as LATE NIGHT TRAINS, this uncut and uncertified Fletcher release was still seized by a number of police forces, including The Met, although whether this was a mistaken seizure for Late Night Trains is unclear. Unavailable in the UK since 1985

THE THING (USA, 1982) Directed by John Carpenter
In one of the more comic episodes that took place during the video nasties debacle, Hampshire Police seized copies of Carpenter’s classic paranoid horror movie and a Magistrate, after clearing the accused video dealer on 8 counts relating to films on the banned list, ordered the copies of this destroyed!!! Fortunately, no-one else seems to have followed suit, and the movie is (and always has been) freely available on Video. Interestingly, the growing reputation of this film was built entirely on it’s video release, it was a theatrical bomb.

VIDEODROME (Canada, 1982) Directed by David Cronenberg
In an episode heavy-handed even by the video nasties debacle standards, the constabularies of both Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire warned video dealers about stocking Cronenberg’s film, even prior to its official release! A victim of very poor timing, the CIC video release – pre-cut by about 3 minutes, was scheduled for release as the hysteria was at its most intense. No suppliers were ever prosecuted, but CIC cut the film brutally and then dithered about the appropriate timing for a release. Subsequent versions have appeared since, each slightly longer than the last. It is now available uncut.

WEREWOLF WOMAN (Italy, 1976) Directed by Rino Di Silvestro
Listed on Greater Manchester Police’s list of titles liable for forfiture, the bizarre and cheap softcore porno-horror flick from the director of DEPORTED WOMEN OF THE SS SPECIAL SECTION has subsequently been shown on terrestrial British television. Cut by the BBFC for a theatrical release in 1980, the Cinehollywood release was uncut. It has been re-released on a number of labels after being certified by the BBFC with 42 seconds of cuts.

ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST (Italy, 1980) Directed by Marino Girolami
Seized by Cambidgeshire Police, the dealer involved was tried under Section 2 of the Obscene Publications Act 1977 and found not guilty. Zombie Holocaust was a sequel/remake of ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS, that’s fun enough but lacks the energy of Fulci’s movie. Released by VTC I two, cut forms (although neither were certified) both versions were withdrawn prior to the Video Recordings Act coming into force. Long unavailable in the UK, the film was re-classified 18 with no cuts in 2000.

Other movies, such as APOCALYPSE NOW (1979), THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS (1982) and Sam Fuller’s THE BIG RED ONE (1977) were also confiscated, but these are assumed to be genuine mistakes. A large number of pornographic titles were also confiscated – Alex De Renzy’s ‘PRETTY PEACHES’ seemed to be a regularly prosecuted title. There were also thousands of titles that had never been certified for video in the UK and that were effectively ‘banned’ when the Video Recordings Act came into force in 1985. Aside from well known and notorious films like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, STRAW DOGS and THE STORY OF O, many of these were obscurities never to be heard of again. Some of these films were gems – Frank De Felittia’s extremely frightening TV movie DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (1981 – Video Unlimited), Peter Carter’s RITUALS (1978 – Cinehollywood) and Theo Gershundy’s superb SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT (1973 - Intervision) among many others that have yet to re-appear in the UK. This, if anything is the real tragedy of the Video Nasties debacle – as millions of curious youngsters don’t have the opportunity we had to discover the hundreds of obscure titles that had nothing to do with major studio titles. It’s a world millions of miles away from the safe, strip-light-lit, popcorn and Pepsi world of Blockbuster, and one lamented, but not forgotten by those fortunate to live through those brief few years when we actually got a taste of real freedom.

Thanks are due to John Martin and his excellent book ‘The Seduction of the Gullible’ (Procrustes Press, 1998) particularly for the second part of this article.