The DPP List: Prosecuted Films

Following on from the Video Nasties post here is a list of the thirty-nine films to be successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, along with a brief synopsis and current status in the UK.

May contain some spoilers.












AKA: Rosso Sangue, Anthropophagus 2, Horrible, The Grim Reaper 2
Released: 1981
Featuring: George Eastman, Annie Belle, Charles Borromel, Katya Berger, Kasimir Berger, Hanja Kochansky, Ian Danby, Ted Rusoff and Edmund Purdom
Director: Joe D’Amato
Status: Released the UK with 2 and a half minutes of cuts in 1983 but withdrawn and not yet re-submitted. Released uncut as ‘Horrible‘ in the US.

Synopsis: Unofficial sequel to Antropophagus: The Beast and featuring George Eastman as Mikos, a seemingly immortal Greek serial killer who heals fast, like Wolverine. Unlike Wolverine he is completely bonkers and spends his time killing anyone he meets in increasingly gruesome methods until he is decapitated by an axe from an antique suit of armour.












Antropophagus: The Beast
AKA: Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper, Zombi 7
Released: 1980
Featuring: George Eastman, Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Margaret Donnelly, Vanessa Steiger, Mark Bodin, Bob Larsen, Simone Baker, Mark Logan, Rubina Rey and Zora Kerova.
Director: Joe D’Amato
Status: Released in the UK as The Grim Reaper in 2002 with 3 minutes of cuts. Released uncut in the US as Antropophagus: The Grim Reaper

Synopsis: A man shipwrecked years earlier on a remote Greek island is forced to eat his wife and child to survive. This drives him insane and he now stalks the island, killing and eating anyone who crosses his path. Notable for a scene where the killer murders a pregnant woman and devours her unborn child, really a skinned rabbit wrapped in streaky bacon. Also features a display of auto-cannibalism.











AKA: Lisa, Lisa; California Axe Murder; The Axe Murders
Released: 1977
Featuring: Leslie Lee, Jack Cano, Ray Green, Frederick R. Friedel, Douglas Powers, Frank Jones, Carol Miller, George J. Monaghan, Hart Smith and Scott Smith
Director: Frederick R. Friedel
Status: Released in the UK in 1999 with 19 seconds of cuts. Released uncut in 2005.

Synopsis: A typical revenge flick in which a group of three psychopaths seek refuge from the law in an isolated farmhouse and abuse the occupants. They obviously haven’t seen enough horror movies and are rather surprised when young Lisa takes gory revenge with a razor blade and an axe.













The Beast in Heat
AKA: La Bestia in Calore, SS Hell Camp, SS Experiment Part 2, The Beast in Heat and Horrifying Experiments of the S.S. Last Days
Released: 1977
Featuring: Macha Magall, Gino Turini, Edilio Kim, Xiro Papas, Salvatore Baccaro, Giuseppe Castellano, Brad Harris, Benito Pacifico, Alfredo Rizzo, Brigitte Skay
Director: Luigi Batzella
Status: Banned

Synopsis: A beautiful but devious female Nazi doctor tortures the male prisoners in her ‘care’ and tosses the female prisoners to a neanderthal-like dwarf who lives in a cage and is fed super aphrodisiacs which gives him a sex drive of Tiger Woods like proportions.  Crass exploitation cinema with the rape and torture of bored-looking actresses.













Blood Bath
AKA: Reazione a Catena, A Bay of Blood, Twitch of the Death Nerve
Released: 1971
Featuring: Luigi Pistilli, Laura Betti, Chris Avram, Anna Maria Rosati, Isa Miranda, Giovanni Nuvoletti, Robert Bonnani, Brigitte Skay, Guido Boccaccini, Paola Rubens, Claudio Volonté and Claudine Auger
Director: Mario Bava
Status: Released in 1994 with 43 seconds of cuts, released uncut in 2010

Synopsis: A ruthless land developer employs deadly family rivalry to get his hands on a picturesque bay. Gory and thrilling giallo classic with plenty of inventive deaths and a high body count.











Blood Feast
AKA: Egyptian Blood Feast, Feast of Flesh
Released: 1963
Featuring: William Kerwin, Mal Arnold, Connie Mason, Scott H. Hall, Lyn Bolton, Toni Calvert, Ashlyn Martin, Sandra Sinclair and Astrid Olson
Director: Herschell Godron Lewis
Status: Released with 23 seconds of cuts, released uncut in 2005

Synopsis: An insane Egyptian chef murders beautiful young women and serves up their body parts as part of a ritualistic cannibal meal to awaken the ancient Egyptian goddess Ishtar (in reality a Babylonian and Assyrian goddess but I’m just being picky). Widely regarded to be the first ever splatter film.













Blood Rites
AKA: The Ghastly Ones
Released: 1968
Featuring: Veronica Radburn, Maggie Rogers, Hal Borske, Anne Linden, Fib LaBlaque, Carol Vogel, Richard Romanus, Eileen Hayes, Don Williams, Hal Sherwood, Neil Flanagan, Ada McAllister and Robert Adsit
Director: Andy Milligan
Status: Banned

Synopsis: Three sisters are forced to spend three nights in a creepy old mansion to hear the reading of their dead father’s will. All very Scooby Doo until their husbands, a maid and one the sisters herself is murdered. The finger of suspicion is pointed at resident hunchback Colin, but is he the murderer? Predictable and cheap gory murder mystery. Presumably banned for the scene where Colin kills and eats a rabbit.













Bloody Moon
AKA: The Bloody Moon Murders, The Saw of Death
Released: 1981
Featuring: Olivia Pascal, Christoph Moosbrugger, Nadja Gerganoff, Alexander Waechter, Jasmin Losensky, Corinna Drews, Ann-Beate Engelke, Peter Exacoustos, Antonia García, Beatriz Sancho, María Rubio, Otto Retzer and Jesús Franco
Director: Jesús (Jess) Franco
Status: Released with 1 minute and 20 seconds of cuts in 1993, released uncut in 2008

Synopsis: Typical fare from the prolific Jess Franco in which a masked and hidden killer murders a group of young and nubile women. Could it be Miguel who was recently released from a mental asylum for hacking up a young and nubile girl with a pair of scissors five years earlier? This would probably have never been banned if not for the actual killing of a snake.













The Burning
Released: 1981
Featuring: Brian Matthews, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Larry Joshua, Jason Alexander, Ned Eisenberg, Carrick Glenn, Carolyn Houlihan, Fisher Stevens and Lou David
Director: Tony Maylam
Status: Released with 19 seconds of cuts in 1992, released uncut in 2001

Synopsis: Above average psycho slasher in which a summer camp caretaker is the victim of a misfiring prank which leaves him horribly scarred. After being released from hospital five years later he heads for the nearest summer camp to murder his way through the cast of likable nubile teens. Very like Friday the 13th and notable for having a soundtrack by Rick Wakeman.













Cannibal Apocalypse
AKA: Apocalypse Domani, The Cannibals Are in the Streets
Released: 1980
Featuring: John Saxon, John Morghen (Giovanni Lombardo Radice), Elizabeth Turner
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Status: Released with a couple of seconds of cuts in 2005

Synopsis: One that John Saxon would probably rather forget, when a Vietnam veteran goes out for a drink with a former comrade he can’t foresee that a virus that turns people into cannibals is about to be unleashed. Plenty of gut-munching ahoy here in this not-a-zombie zombie film. Saxon apparently signed on the dotted line without reading the script and was contractually obliged to go through the motions.














Cannibal Ferox
AKA: Make Them Die Slowly
Released: 1981
Featuring: John Morghen (Giovanni Lombardo Radice), Lorraine De Selle, Danilo Mattei,
Zora Kerova, Walter Lucchini and Robert Kerman
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Status: Released with 6 minutes of cuts in 2000

Synopsis: Two sisters and their friend journey into the Paraguay rain forest to prove that cannibalism no longer exists. They encounter two junkies who proceed to brutalise the natives until the locals snap and disprove the girls’ theory. Typical cannibal exploitation flick but with scenes animal cruelty that earned it the attention of the censor’s scissors.














Cannibal Holocaust
Released: 1980
Featuring: Robert Kerman, Carl Gabriel Yorke, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen and Luca Barbareschi
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Status: Released in 2001 with over 5 minutes of cuts, re-released in 2010 with 15 seconds of cuts

Synopsis: A mockumentary film within a film in which an anthropologist leads a rescue mission to the Amazon Basin to find a missing film crew. After some naked frolicking with the native maidens the rescue team are given several reels of film which divulge the fate of the crew, and it isn’t pretty. More animal-cruelty in the name of art caused the extensive cuts in this film.















The Cannibal Man
AKA: La Semana del asesino, The Apartment on the 13th Floor
Released: 1972
Featuring: Vicente Parra, Emma Cohen
Director: Eloy de la Iglesia
Status: Released in 1999 with 3 seconds of cuts

Synopsis: Possibly a candidate for the Trades Description Act, this is an above average psychological horror flick in which a butcher accidentally kills a taxi driver and must kill again to cover his crime. Featuring no cannibalism, this was probably seized with other titles such as Cannibal Ferox.













The Devil Hunter
AKA: Il cacciatore di uomini, Man Hunter, Sexo Canibal
Released: 1980
Featuring: Ursula Buchfellner, Al Cliver, Antonio Mayans, Antonio de Cabo and Bertrand Altmann
Director: Jesús (Jess) Franco
Status: Released uncut in 2008

Synopsis: A model with the habit of losing her clothes is kidnapped by criminals who hold her to ransom in a cannibal infested jungle. Still the cannibals aren’t the main focus as a massive ‘demonic’ native with Cookie Monster eyeballs wants to eat said model as well. Will the ropey heroes rescue her? Typical trashy exploitation fare from Franco.














Don’t Go in the Woods
AKA: – Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone
Released: 1980
Featuring: Jack McClelland, Mary Gail Artz, James P. Hayden, Angie Brown, Ken Carter and David Barth
Director: James Bryan
Status: Released in 2007 uncut

Synopsis: Early US slasher clone. Backwoods hikers meet with backwoods wild man for cheaply gruesome murders. Generally slow with bursts of violence and lashings of fake blood.













The Driller Killer
AKA: Driller Killer
Released: 1979
Featuring: Abel Ferrara, Carolyn Marz, Baybi Day, Harry Schultz and Alan Wynroth
Director: Abel Ferrara
Status: Released with cuts in 1999, uncut in 2002

Synopsis: The one that caused all the problems in the first place, though apart from the lurid video cover it’s hard to see why. More of a study in psychological breakdown than a slasher it still features the various Black and Decker inspired murders as a struggling artist goes slowly insane as pressure to produce a new piece mounts up.












Released: 1981
Featuring: Clint Howard, R. G. Armstrong, Joseph Cortese, Claude Earl Jones, Haywood Nelson, Don Stark, Charles Tyner, Hamilton Camp, Louie Gravance, Jim Greenleaf, Lynn Hancock and Richard Moll
Director: Eric Weston
Status: Released with 3 and a half minutes of cuts in 1987, released uncut in 2004

Synopsis: A young man being bullied at a military academy discovers a book of black magic which possesses his computer (naturally) and plots his revenge on the bullies, which manifests as phantom man-eating pigs (naturally). Fun little shocker that was nonetheless banned for its satanic themes and gore.











AKA: Trauma, The House on Straw Hill
Released: 1976
Featuring: Udo Kier, Linda Hayden, Fiona Richmond, Patsy Smart, Karl Howman and Vic Armstrong
Director: James Kenelm Clarke
Status: Released with 30 seconds of cuts in 1997

Synopsis: A struggling writer living in a remote Essex farmhouse hires a beautiful but psychologically troubled secretary to help him finish typing his latest novel. Sex and murder follows. A moderate thriller with elements of Straw Dogs but let down by too much emphasis on the softcore gropings.














Faces of Death
AKA: The Original Faces of Death, Face a la Mort
Released: 1978
Featuring: Michael Carr
Director: Conan Le Cilaire
Status: Released with 2 mins 19 seconds of cuts in 2003

Synopsis: Infamous pseudo documentary featuring footage  of various animal and human deaths. Some of the human deaths are staged while others come from newsreel footage of bombings, accidents and suicides.














Fight For Your Life
Released: 1977
Featuring: William Sanderson, Robert Judd, Catherine Peppers, Lela Small, Yvonne Ross, Reggie Rock Bythewood and Ramon Saunders
Director: Robert A. Endelson
Status: Banned

Synopsis: A racist redneck criminal has a frank exchange of views with a black minister when he and his cronies hide in the minister’s home after sneaking out of prison. Typical abuse/revenge flick though notable for being the only video nasty to have banned for its use of racist language.












Flesh for Frankenstein
AKA: Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein
Released: 1973
Featuring: Udo Kier, Monique van Vooren, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Joe Dallesandro and Arno Juerging
Director: Paul Morrissey
Status: Released in 1996 with just under a minute of cuts, released uncut in 2006

Synopsis: Dr. Frankenstein creates a pair of good-looking creatures in order to sire a perfect human race. Unfortunately Mr. Monster has the sex-drive of a plank of wood and so looks for an unwilling organ donor to increase the creature’s libido. Most everyone shags and kills everyone else.













Forest of Fear
AKA: Toxic Zombies, Bloodeaters
Released: 1980
Featuring: Charles McCrann, Beverly Shapiro, Denis Helfend, Kevin Hanlon, Judith Brown, Pat Kellis, Roger Miles and Philip Garfinkel
Director: Charles McCrann
Status: Released uncut in 2006

Synopsis: A group of cannabis-growers have their crop sprayed with an experimental pesticide which turns them into flesh-chewing zombies. Chemical-induced zombie mayhem with a few moderate gore scenes. See Return of the Living Dead for a better chemical zombie film.














Gestapo’s Last Orgy
AKA: L’ultima orgia del III Reich, Last Orgy of the Third Reich
Released: 1977
Featuring: Adriano Micantoni, Daniela Poggi, Maristella Greco, Fulvio Ricciardi, Antiniska Nemour and Caterina Barbero
Director: Cesare Canevari
Status: Banned

Synopsis: Tawdry Italian entry into the Nazisploitation genre featuring as many obscenities as they could fit into the 81 minute running time. Torture, rape, incest, cannibalism and poo-eating make for heady mixture of sleaze, oh and there’s a plot in there about a concentration camp commandant who falls in love with one of the female prisoners, if you can find it.









The House by the Cemetery
AKA: Quella villa accanto al cimitero
Released: 1981
Featuring: Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina, Dagmar Lassander and Giovanni De Nava
Director: Lucio Fulci
Status: Released with 4 mins of cuts in 1988, released uncut in 2009

Synopsis: Supernatural shocker about a family who move into a house haunted by the undead previous owner. Though disjointed in parts Fulci maintains the sense of menace and the eerie eldritch quality cuts through the visceral goriness.










The House on the Edge of the Park
AKA: La casa sperduta nel parco
Released: 1980
Featuring: David Hess, John Morghen (Giovanni Lombardo Radice), Annie Belle, Christian Borromeo and Marie Claude Joseph
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Status: Released in 2002 with over 11 minutes of cuts, re-released with 42 seconds of cuts in 2011

Synopsis: Reliable rent-a-thug David Hess plays a murdering psychopath who gets himself and his buddy invited to a swanky party and proceeds to go stabbity with a straight-razor. Banned for an excess of sex and violence but now available with most of it back in.










Island of Death
AKA: Ta paidia tou Diavolou
Released: 1977
Featuring: Robert Behling, Jane Lyle, Jessica Dublin, Gerard Gonalons, Jannice McConnell, Nikos Tsachiridis, Marios Tartas and Ray Richardson
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Status: Released with just over 4 mins of cuts in 2002, released uncut in 2010

Synopsis: Despite scenes in which a man rapes a goat, a lesbian is burnt to death with an aerosol spray and a cigarette lighter,  a gay couple are tortured and killed, a woman is decapitated with a bulldozer, a ‘neanderthal’ of a man rapes a woman and a man is killed in a pit of quicklime this is a deeply dull exploitation flick with very little plot. Manages to be offensive without being clever, amusing or entertaining.












I Spit on your Grave
AKA: Day of the Woman
Released: 1978
Featuring: Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor, Anthony Nichols, Gunter Kleemann and Richard Pace
Director: Meir Zarchi
Status: Released with just over 7 mins of cuts in 2001, released with 3 mins of cuts in 2010

Synopsis: Classic ‘rape/revenge’ film starring Buster Keaton’s granddaughter. Originally on the DPP list for the excessive gang rape and subsequent violent revenge, in particular where Keaton’s character castrates Tabor’s character while the pair are in the bath.












Last House on the Left
Released: 1972
Featuring: Sandra Cassel, Lucy Grantham, David Hess, Fred Lincoln, Jeramie Rain and Marc Sheffler
Director: Wes Craven
Status: Released with just over 7 mins of cuts in 2001, released with 3 mins of cuts in 2010

Synopsis: A pair of teenage girls are tortured, mutilated and murdered by a gang of vicious thugs who then unwittingly spend the night at one of the dead girls’ home. The girl’s parents discover their daughter’s fate and proceed to revenge themselves upon said thugs. Inexplicably popular murder/revenge flick that’s far too mean-spirited to be fun.















Love Camp 7
Released: 1969
Featuring: Maria Lease, Kathy Williams, Bob Cresse, Phil Poth, John Alderman, Carolyn Appleby, David F. Friedman, Bruce Kimball and Natasha Steel
Director: Lee Frost
Status: Banned

Synopsis: Two WAC officers go undercover at a Nazi concentration camp as POWs to find and possibly rescue an inmate who has useful information. However the rescue attempt by the French Resistance gets botched and the two women end up suffering lots of mild torture and softcore gropings. Silly Nazisploitation, nothing bloody or too offensive, unless you’re a Daily Mail reader.














AKA: There Was a Little Girl, And When She Was Bad, Party des Schreckens
Released: 1981
Featuring: Trish Everly, Dennis Robertson and Allison Biggers
Director: Ovidio G. Assonitis
Status: Released uncut in 2004.

Synopsis: Sibling rivalry becomes deadly when disfigured and demented Mary escapes from an insane asylum to stalk her unblemished sister. The killer? Mary’s outsized pooch. Gory thriller with a few decent atmospheric touches.













Mardi Gras Massacre
Released: 1978
Featuring: Curt Dawson, Gwen Arment, William Metzo and Laura Misch Owens
Director: Jack Weis
Status: Banned

Synopsis: A masked killer mutilates prostitutes during the Mardi Gras festival so he can make an offering of their their hearts to an Aztec goddess. If this sounds a little like the plot of Blood Feast, that’s because it’s a ‘semi remake’.












Nightmares in a Damaged Brain
AKA: Nightmare
Released: 1981
Featuring: Baird Stafford, Sharon Smith, C.J. Cooke, Mik Cribben
Director: Romano Scavolini
Status: Released with some cuts

Synopsis: Declared cured, disturbed killer George is released from psychiatric hospital. However the experimental drugs he’s been given to repress his murderous urges aren’t working anymore and after visiting a peep show he regresses back to his stab-happy ways. Average stalk and slash loaded with gore.












Night of the Bloody Apes
AKA: La Horripilante Bestia Humana, Horror y Sexo, Gomar—The Human Gorilla
Released: 1969
Featuring: José Elías Moreno, Carlos Lopez Moctezuma, Armando Silvestre, Norma Lazareno, Agustín Martínez Solares, Noelia Noel, Gerardo Zepeda
Director: René Cardona
Status: Released uncut

Synopsis: A surgeon transplants the heart of a gorilla into his dying son, resulting in the patient transforming into a monstrous man-ape which goes on a rape and murder spree. Silly monster movie that was probably in trouble with the censors for scenes of heart surgery.













Night of the Demon
Released: 1980
Featuring: Joy Allen, Rick Fields, Bob Collins, Michael Cutt, Jody Lazarus, Michael Lang, Melanie Graham
Director: James C. Wasson
Status: Released with 1 minute and 41 seconds of cuts

Synopsis: Satanism, sex and bigfoot feature in this 80s backwoods slasher which sounds more interesting than it really is. Notable for a scene where bigfoot scalps a bald guy with a bad wig.














AKA:  Slaughter, American Cannibale
Released: 1976
Featuring: Margarita Amuchástegui, Ana Carro, Liliana Fernández Blanco, Roberta Findlay, Alfredo Iglesias, Enrique Larratelli, Mirtha Massa, Aldo Mayo, Clao Villanueva
Director: Michael Findlay, Roberta Findlay
Status: Passed by the BBFC in 2003, but no UK release to date

Synopsis: A satanic cult look for people to kill and film their deaths. Inspired by the Manson Family, and infamous for marketing itself as a real snuff film, this features a tacked on scene at the end where a cast member is apparently murdered. It’s all faked, but rumours that is was for real helped it onto the Video Nasties list.













SS Experiment Camp
AKA: Lager SSadis Kastrat Kommandantur, SS Experiment Love Camp
Released: 1976
Featuring: Mircha Carven, Paola Corazzi, Giorgio Cerioni
Director: Sergio Garrone
Status: Released uncut in 2005

Synopsis: Typical softcore Naziploitation flick featuring plenty of nude bodies but little in the way of violence. This was probably initially banned due to the lurid poster art and Nazi themes.













AKA: Unsane
Released: 1982
Featuring: Anthony Franciosa, John Saxon, Daria Nicolodi
Director: Dario Argento
Status: Released uncut in 2003

Synopsis: Classic giallo film featuring a masked killer who is inspired to murder his victims after reading the works of a popular mystery writer. When the writer receives death threats he must use his knowledge of crime to discover the killer’s identity. Stylish and shocking, it was banned by the BBFC for sexualised violence.


The Werewolf and the Yeti - Spanish One Sheet











The Werewolf and the Yeti
AKA: Night of the Howling Beast, Hall of the Mountain King, La Maldicion de la Bestia
Released: 1975
Featuring: Paul Naschy, Grace Mills, Silvia Solar
Director: Miguel Iglesias
Status: No UK release

Synopsis: The eight of Paul Naschy’s werewolf series, this time features Count Waldemar Daninsky journeying to Tibet to find a yeti. Instead he stumbles across two vampire women who turn him into a werewolf (of course). Landed on the BBFC’s cutting room floor probably due to the sex and gore.













Zombie Flesh Eaters
AKA: Zombi 2, Zombie
Released: 1979
Featuring: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay
Director: Lucio Fulci
Status: Released uncut in 2005

Synopsis: A young woman looking for her missing father, teams up with a reporter looking for a story, and travels to a remote island inhabited by zombies. Plenty of gore and eerie moments matched with a funky soundtrack, decent performances and a good plot make this one not to be missed.

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Review: The Satanic Rites of Dracula


Christopher Lee (Dracula), Peter Cushing (Lorrimar Van Helsing), Joanna Lumley (Jessica Van Helsing), Michael Coles (Inspector Murray), William Franklin (Peter Torrence), Richard Vernon (Colonel Matthews), Barbara Yu Ling (Chin Yang), Freddie Jones (Dr. Julian Keeley), Valerie Van Ost (Jane), Freddie Jones (Dr. Julian Keeley), Maurice O’Connell (Agent Hanson), Richard Mathews (John Porter MP), Patrick Barr (Lord Carradine), Lockwood West (General Sir Arthur Freeborne), Peter Adair (Doctor), John Harvey (Commissionaire).
Director: Alan Gibson
Producers: Roy Skeggs, Don Houghton
Writer: Don Houghton
Released: 3rd November 1973
Running Time: 87 minutes

Count Dracula returns to establish a satanic cult and bring about an apocalyptic plague.

Agent Hanson, a British Secret Serviceman, is being held prisoner at a large country house. His captors, a group of middle class satanists and guards who all shop at the same 1970s discount store, are holding a black mass ceremony, during which he manages to escape. Hanson later dies from the torture he received while imprisoned, but before he does he reveals that several prominent figures in society were present at the ritual; an MP, an army general, a peer of the realm, and a well-known bacteriologist.

To avoid drawing the MP’s attention to their investigation, Colonel Matthews brings in Inspector Murray from Scotland Yard to also work on the case. Having had some previous experience with satanic cults (Dracula AD 1972), Murray calls upon vampire hunter Lorrimar Van Helsing to add his occult expertise to the investigation. Recognising the bacteriologist, Van Helsing visits him only to discover that the man has been working on a particularly nasty strain of bubonic plague for an agoraphobic property developer named D. D. Denham. Of course Denham turns out to be a revived Count Dracula who is planning to use the plague to wipe out humanity, but not before attempting to put the bite on Van Helsing’s granddaughter, Jessica.

More like an episode of The Avengers than the grand gothic horror that Hammer was known for, The Satanic Rites of Dracula was Christopher Lee’s last portrayal of the count and the last Hammer film featuring both him and Peter Cushing. (Cushing would return for Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974) and Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1974), while Lee starred in To the Devil a Daughter (1976), Hammer’s final horror picture before their revival with Let Me In in 2010.) Satanic Rites continues on from where Dracula AD 1972 (1972) finished off, with a present day setting and emphasis on devil worship. Though while Dracula AD retains a little of the gothic style with the mostly nighttime scenes and ruined church, Satanic Rites does away with it altogether and the result looks like a 1970s spy film with the horror aspects as interludes.

The black mass sections have some nudity and a little gore, but lack the atmosphere of those in The Devil Rides Out (1968), with Barbara Yu Ling’s character supposedly the head of the Dracula cult, but is given little to do but huskily whisper Christopher Neame’s ritual lines from Dracula AD 1972. Joanna Lumley also feels underused as Jesscia Van Helsing. Having had some previous experience with Dracula, it would have been nice to have seen her do more than scream (when she was conscious).

Bringing Dracula into present day was the final nail in the coffin for Hammer’s affair with the vampiric count, and though Satanic Rites is generally preferred to Dracula AD, I’ll buck the trend and say I enjoy Dracula AD more.

Two out of five vampires.


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Something fishy: Piranha and Piranha 3D (Some spoilers)


Occasionally Mr Exploitica and I play ‘If I had an Independent Cinema’.

This is a game for film nerds like us and involved picking the location, theme and films for our entirely fictional establishments. Mine of course would be Exploitica Pictures, probably be based in Bristol and feature the kinds of films I write about, with an odd Rocky Horror night thrown in for good measure. Seasons of films would also be important and one idea that crops up fairly often is a season of originals and remakes.

I rarely find remakes to be as good as the original films, only the 1979 Nosferatu the Vampyre really springs to mind as it manages to capture the ethereal beauty of the original 1922 film but also brings something new to the story. However Nosferatu is the exception as opposed to the rule and this is expressed very clearly in Piranha (1978) and Piranha 3D (2010).

Directed by Joe Dante Piranha is a spoof of the highly successful Jaws (1975) and tells of a school of genetically modified and highly aggressive piranha that are accidentally released from an army testing site and into a local river. Insurance investigator Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies) and reclusive alcoholic Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman) are caught up in trying to prevent the piranha from reaching a nearby summer camp where Grogan’s daughter is staying. The gore is limited, aside from when local hermit Jack (Keenan Wynn) is attacked while fishing in the river and has his legs stripped to the bone, and mainly consists of underwater shots of people flailing about while the ‘feeding’ soundtrack plays. The humour is knowing (Maggie playing a Jaws video game, a guest at the water park reading Moby Dick) but still works, and the piranha effects are a little at the ‘rubber shark’ end of the spectrum. But despite (or perhaps because) of these things Piranha is a fun little film with a good atmosphere, beautiful scenery, a sense of humour and a few suspenseful chills.

By contrast Piranha 3D erupts into a welter of CGI blood and gore. A sort of remake, Piranha 3D features the killer fish being released into Lake Victoria, Arizona, by means of a subterranean earthquake. The prehistoric little buggers have been trapped for thousands of years and are tired of gnawing on each other. Well good news, spring break is upon them and with it comes several hundred tasty college students just itching to get topless and wet (ooer). The piranha start by snacking on local fisherman Matt Boyd (Richard Dreyfus), whose bloodied remains are found by Sheriff Julie Forester (Elizabeth Shue). Despite this disturbing find the town doesn’t want to turn away the income it receives from the tourists and soon enough the killer fish are eating everything in sight, and as messily as they possibly can. Now I have no aversion to gore. Lucio Fulci is one of my favourite directors, which should tell you something of how I feel about the red stuff. However in Piranha 3D the gore is the film. Well about 50% of it. The other half is taken up with boobs, lots of them, to the point where Piranha 3D feels like an episode of Girls Gone Wild with lots of CGI gore. Ah, the CGI gore. This is another bugbear, though there are other films as guilty of pixelating their effects. It’s sad when genuine artistry, as shown by folks like Screaming Mad George and Tom Savini, have been put aside in favour of a twelve year old with a laptop. Piranha 3D tends to divide viewers between “zomg this movie has loads of tits and blood, it’s AWESOME” and “ARGH! fucking hell! tear out my eyes and lobotomise me!”

Really the main difference between Piranha and Piranha 3D is the fun. Piranha feels as though it was made by people who love films and enjoyed the filming process. It’s well acted and gives us characters we can care about. It’s difficult to care about the fates of any of the characters in Piranha 3D, most of them are so detestable. Even the two children, who I assume were added as sympathetic characters, don’t seem to be too troubled by the death and destruction about them.

So, I would suggest going to the chippy for a battered cod and getting a copy of Piranha (1978), maybe in a double bill with Ebirah Horror of the Deep (1966), for a night of fishy fun.

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Video Nasties

Protect the children! Typical moral outrage from the tabloid press.   See boobs on page 3.

Protect the children! Typical moral outrage from the tabloid press. See boobs on page 3.

After my previous entry about Zombie Flesh Eaters I thought I’d write a little about Video Nasties in general. As I mentioned ‘Video Nasty’ was a British term used to describe a number of schlock horror movies that were coming out on video in the early 1980s. Video recorders for home use started to become popular in the 1970s when European and Japanese technology enabled greater video capacity in a smaller, more sophisticated machine. At the time there was no legislation governing video content, except for the updated Obscene Publications Act (OPA) of 1959, which had been amended in 1977 to include pornographic videos.

While at the time many major distributors were reluctant to distribute their films through video the market became flooded with low-budget films, many of them continental, a lot of them horror films. Some of these films had received a certificate for theatrical release by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) but many hadn’t, and at the time videos didn’t require the same kind of legislation at theatrical releases. This allowed films with all manner of dodgy material being bought and rented out all over the UK. The trouble really began in 1982 when video distributors VIPCO (Video Instant Picture Company) and GO Video took out full page colour adverts for films like Driller Killer, SS Experiment Camp and Cannibal Holocaust in video magazines. The graphic imagery in the video boxes resulted in a number of complaints being issued to the Advertising Standards Agency and the magazines that had printed the adverts. This attracted the attention of the press and in May 1982 the Daily Star ran a story claiming that children were being exposed to these terrible films. The Sunday Times featured a story a few weeks later which used the term ‘nasties’ to describe the films.

If the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) felt that a film had breached the OPA then he or she could call to have a prosecution brought against the film’s producers, distributors and retailers. The police became empowered to seize videos if they believed the films contained material that breached the OPA and in the early 1980s raids on video shops increased, especially in Greater Manchester where the Chief Constable was devoutly Christian.

The apparently random seizures of various titles caused alarm in video retailers and they petitioned the DPP for a guideline so they could know what material may be seized. The DDP recognised the random elements in the raids and supplied a list of films that had been successfully prosecuted or that the DPP had filed charges against. This became known as the DPP List or the Video Nasties List.

However it was a publicity stunt by Go Video that really brought video nasties to public attention. In attempt to whip up controversy and therefore boost sales of Cannibal Holocaust Go Video wrote anonymously to the highly conservative social activist Mary Whitehouse a  to complain about their own film. Their plan backfired as Whitehouse sparked off a public campaign to have the films banned. With the growing media interest in video nasties parliament started taking notice and in 1983 Conservative MP Graham Bright introduced a Private Member’s Bill to the House of Commons. This was passed as the Video Recordings Act 1984 and came into effect on 1 September 1985

Under the act, the BBFC could regulate videos as well as theatrical releases. After the 1st of September 1985 all video releases, whether they had a theatrical release or not, had to be submitted for classification. Films released before then had to be re-submitted for classification. It became a criminal offence for anyone to supply videos classified as 15 or 18 to anyone under those ages.

Many of the films on the DPP list were either very heavily cut or banned outright and it seemed as if they’d never be released in their entirety. In December 1997 the BBFC stated that it had “never relaxed its guidelines on video violence”. However in response to a public consultation in 2000 the BBFC did begin to relax their guidelines and with James Ferman’s retirement as director of the BBFC many earlier films were re-appraised for classification. Many films on the DPP list have since been released uncut or with minor cuts.

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Review: Zombie Flesh Eaters


Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)
Aka: Zombi 2, Zombie and Woodoo
Directed by: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Ian McCulloch, Tisa Farrow, Pier Luigi Conti, Auretta Gay, Richard Johnson and Olga Karlatos.

I came of age during the 1990s, and therefore missed most of the video nasties scandals that rocked UK video market in the early part of the 1980s. For those unfamiliar with the term, “Video Nasty” was used to describe a number of rather gory and explicit films being released into the UK, mostly through the distributor VIPCO. The tabloid press jumped on the bandwagon, and soon Video Nasties were making headlines with calls to ban these “sick” films. The Director of Public Prosecutions had a right to seize any films that seemed to breach the Obscene Publications Act, and raids on video hire shops were common, as films with even slightly dubious titles were taken. While some genuinely atrocious trash was picked up, there were a few gems in with the dross. The best known of these is probably The Evil Dead, Sam Raimi’s classic slapstick gore-fest, but Zombie Flesh Eaters also suffered under the BBFC’s knife.

Released in Europe under the title Zombi 2 in order to cash in on George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (which was known as Zombi on the continent), Zombie Flesh Eaters was the first supernatural based film from established Giallo and Spaghetti Western director Lucio Fulci. He went on to make City of the Living Dead, House by the Cemetery and The Beyond, a trio of Lovecraftian influenced zombie nightmares.

In Zombie Flesh Eaters an unmanned boat drifted into New York harbour, causing a danger to local shipping. While investigating the boat, a harbour patrolman is attacked by a hulking brute who kills him. The killer is shot and he falls into the sea while the dead patrolman is taken to the morgue. The police discover the boat belonged to Dr. Bowles and contact his daughter Ann (Tisa Farrow) to confirm that it is indeed his boat. It also attracts the attention of Peter West (Ian McCulloch), a journalist who is unsatisfied with the police explanation of what happened. They encounter each other on the boat and discover that Ann’s father left a note giving his location as the tropical island of Matool. Deciding to investigate together, Ann and Peter travel to the tropics and rope in a holidaying couple Bryan Hull and Susan Barrett (Pier Luigi Conti and Auretta Gay) to take them to Matool.

Once on Matool, the cast find that they won’t be drinking pina coladas by the pool or walking across peerless white sandy beaches in sarongs and flip flops. Matool is cursed by the living dead, who come back to “suck the blood of the living”. The only non-zombified inhabitants are Doctor Menard (Richard Johnson), a scientist friend of Farrow’s father trying to discover the source of the zombie infestation, Menard’s wife Paola (the beautiful Olga Karlatos), and a couple of Menard’s assistants.  There are also a large group of natives who you never see, but are referred to by the tribal drumming soundtrack which they provide.

Although the gore is intense which flesh munching aplenty, the film also has an eerie, eldritch quality about it, helped along by zombies which move very slowly, are almost completely silent and a haunting soundtrack which somehow turns them from mere shlock horror stooges into creepy ethereal phantoms with real menacing threat. Their makeup is crude, simply bits of clay stuck to their faces, but it works, making them genuinely flesh-crawling.

Fulci later returned to the ghostly supernatural zombie in his holy trinity of Lovecraft inspired films, the best of which is The Beyond, but as a Saturday night shocker or haunting visceral masterpiece, see Zombie Flesh Eaters. And remember, never lie down in a graveyard during a zombie apocalypse.


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Theatrical Origins Part Two: Grand Guignol


There have always been traces of horror in the theatre. From Greek Classical period tragedies like Oresteia where the battered and bloody remains of King Agamemnon are wheeled out for the audience to see, to Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, which features a scene where the Queen of the Gothi, Tamora, is tricked into eating her own children who have been baked into a pie, centuries before Mrs Lovett came along. However it was Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol, a former chapel and the smallest theatre in Paris that would have a lasting effect on the horror film.

Founded in 1894 by the novelist and playwright Oscar Méténier, the Grand Guignol was dedicated to naturalistic theatre, a style born out of the 19th century realism movement in the arts. Naturalistic theatre attempted to create as a perfect an illusion of real life on the stage as possible. It used detailed sets, everyday language as opposed to poetry, focused upon contemporary themes and used a style of acting that enhanced the impression of reality. Naturalistic theatre also tended to focus upon the stories of vagrants, prostitutes, urchins and included material dealing with poverty, racism, sex, disease, and destitution. Méténier was succeeded by Max Maurey who served as the theatre’s director between 1898 and 1914 and brought a new element to the theatre; horror.

Unlike the Classical and Shakespearian tragedies, Maurey’s performances showed murder and torture in grisly detail. He employed the playwright Andre de Lorde who wrote over a hundred plays for the theatre, sometimes collaborating with the psychologist Alfred Binet to write plays about mental illness, which would become one of the Grand Guignol’s frequent themes. Though the Grand Guignol showed a variety of plays, including comedy, the horror plays became the most popular due to their intense drama and use of gore. Most of the stories involved psychopathic murders, in which the motive was rarely reasoned and the perpetrators rarely caught.

In 1914 Camille Choisy became the Grand Guignol’s manager, bringing with him both his knowledge of special effects and the actress Paula Maxa, who was ‘murdered’ on stage more than ten thousand times. This earned her the title ”the most assassinated woman in the world” and her characters were frequently subjected to gruesome tortures and deaths which included strangulations, stabbings, shootings, decapitations, mutilations and decomposition, all in gory detail.

Jack Jouvin took over the Grand Guignol in 1930 and shifted the focus of the plays from horror to psychological drama. This coupled with the real life horrors of the Second World War was the beginning of the end for the theatre and its popularity waned. It limped on as a tourist attraction for several years until the Grand Guignol closed its doors to horror in 1962. The Grand Guignol building still stands  and is occupied by International Visual Theatre, a company which produces plays in sign language.

Its final horror director, Charles Nonon said in an interview after its closure:  ”We could never compete with Buchenwald. Before the war, everyone believed that what happened on stage was purely imaginary; now we know that these things–and worse–are possible.”

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Theatrical Origins Part One: Phantasmagoria


While Georges Méliès is generally considered to be the founding father of the horror film with his three minute long Le Manoir du Diable released in 1896, the origins of horror as a performance genre in its own right begin a hundred years earlier with Etienne Robertson’s introduction of fright to the magic lantern with his phantasmagoria.

Étienne-Gaspard Robert (stage name “Robertson”) was a Belgium stage magician who pioneered projection techniques. He studied physics at Leuven and specialised in optics before moving to Paris in 1791 to become an artist. While attending a magic lantern illusion show by Paul de Philipsthal in 1793, Robertson realised that through his understanding of optics, he could create more elaborate illusions and began work on a modified form of the magic lantern, which he named the Fantoscope.

Robertson developed his phantasmagoria show using his new technology which projected ghostly images and used actors and ventriloquists to add to the impression he was conjuring real phantoms. His show was shut down in 1799 due to belief that he really could bring the dead back to life and he was forced to reveal many of his tricks and techniques. He left Paris and he moved to Bordeaux, returning to Paris a few weeks later to discover that his former assistants had continued the show without him. Not one to be outdone, Robertson moved phantasmagoria to the ruined crypt of the Convent des Capucines and continued his performances. With Robertson’s techniques now made known, other theatres put on their own projection shows but none were as elaborate as Robertson’s.

In 1801 Paul de Philipsthal opened a production of phantasmagoria at the Lyceum Theatre in London where it was a great success. Previously de Philipsthal had been content to fool the audience and make them believe they were witnessing real ghostly apparitions. However during the Lyceum production he opened each performance with a statement making it clear that the phantoms were produced by optical tricks and were for entertainment only. Phantasmagoria moved to New York in 1803 and was successful in the atmosphere of the expanding frontier. Several other phantasmagoria shows opened in the United States but by the 1840s it had become antiquated.

The world of horror was ready for something else.

Coming next, Part Two: Grand Guignol

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