Your new movie VHS Nasty
- in a few words, what is it about?
VHS Lives 3: VHS Nasty
is part 3 of the VHS Lives documentary film series, the
schlockumentary delves deep into the video nasty debate on both the films
and censorship as a whole. It's
a look at the era by indie filmmakers and fans of the genre!
Before we go any
further, could you quickly explain what a "video nasty" actually
video nasty is a colloquial term used in the United Kingdom and Europe to
describe a number of films which were distributed on VHS video in the
early nineteen eighties which were heavily criticised by the press,
parliament and various religious organizations for their content which
contained strong use of violence, sex, nudity and gore. At
the time of the introduction of home VCR video players and recorders
in the United Kingdom during the late 1970s, no legislation was in place
to regulate home video content, and this meant that any films on the market
and available from video rental stores had no certification as we know
today. The Obscene Publications Act was in place and had been since 1959
entitled The Obscene Publications Act 1959, although the act did not
govern home video, during the rise of the porn film industry in the late
1970's in 1977 the act was amended and did cover erotic/porn films but
still not horror films. At this time the British Board of Film Censorship,
which was established in 1912, only governed theatrical cinematic
releases and was not in force to censor home video. This was due to a
loophole within film classification laws at the time. Because of this in
the early 1980's the market was flooded with low-budget horror films
featuring gore, violence and graphic nudity. It didn't help that major
film distributers with the introduction of home video were reluctant to
join the VHS revolution mainly due to fears that less bums would be on
seats in the cinema and for fears that their content on video would be
to the video nasty debate in both the media and parliament it resulted in
a number of films being prosecuted in the early 1980's by the Director of
Public Prosecutions, and following this the government passed the Video
Recordings Act 1984, which meant in Britain all video releases had to
appear before the BBFC for certification at a cost to the film's
distributor. The reason the Video Recordings Act 1984 was in place was to
protect children within the home so we saw a much stricter code and
censorship within home video than we saw with theatrical releases. With
campaign leader Mary Whitehouse and with the help the
likes of MP Graham Bright and even the support of Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher they won the Video Nasty War. The
Director of Public Prosecutions released an official list of 72 films, a
list that would end up being amended as more films were added and dropped,
as the decision to whether the title was successfully prosecuted or
dropped from the list with an unsuccessful prosecution. The courts
prosecuted certain video releases which were known as the video nastiest
for obscenity, believed to violate the Obscene Publications Act 1959. The
Video Recordings act 1984 was then put into place, an act that governed
film censorship in Britain and relieving the courts of their duty with
this matter. With the implement of the Video Recordings Act 1984 the
courts destroyed the video nasty lists.
The courts have no records of the VN DPP section 2 and 3 video nasty lists
on file even within their archive to this day.
In the late eighties we used to use the term "video nasty" as a more general
term that would be a horror VHS film.
What made you want to make a film about the video
nasty subculture, and what did video nasties mean to your private life?
And why do you think video nasties present such a lure in the first place?
think the lure is literally because we were told at the time we couldn't
watch these films, so we wanted to watch them...to find out what all the
fuss was about!
obsessed with video nasties and always have been! These
films which were deemed to deprave and corrupt have always had a dark
place in my heart! So
for the documentary and book it seemed the perfect subject matter!
video nasty era was a big part of history in Britain, it happened! As much
as I hate censorship and detest the BBFC's choices in censoring films in
the 70's, 80's and 90's, I secretly loved the challenge of trying to hunt
down these VHS video nasties and banned VHS titles, the thrill of the hunt
and the excitement watching every single one of them, the unity between
collectors, the feeling as if you were living on the edge of society,
depraved enough to watch this so called filth, rebelling in some way
against the system. Video nasties introduced me to underground horror, since the 1980's I've been obsessed with finding obscure VHS titles like
Nekromantik and the Guinea Pig films and trying to own every shot-on-video
horror film in existence.
of your personal favourite video nasties?
love all the video nasties but here is my top ten quick fire list!
Dawn of the Dead
The Evil Dead
Zombie Flesh Eaters
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Night of the Living Dead
The Last House on the Left
I Spit on Your Grave
were a big thing in the 1980s, but now most of this films are available
freely in the UK - so what do you think is the legacy of this rather
a strange one because they won at the time, Mary Whitehouse and co got a
good number of horror films banned and prosecuted! But
as you say 99% of these titles are freely available now. It was a
different time back then, so for the BBFC the legacy is... they did
literally ban and prosecute and stop a majority of these films getting
into the hands of children in the home, so it was a win for them (at the
a win for every film on the video nasty lists because we are still talking
about them, watching these films and buying the latest Blu-ray with added
commentary now in 2019. All
the video nasty films are now in a time capsule so for Mary, James Ferman
and co they actually created more of an awareness of these horror films that
future generations can enjoy!
you Mary Whitehouse!
What can you tell us about your
directorial approach to your topic at hand?
wanted the whole feel of the film to feel like you were chatting with your
mates on the subject, to feel like you are watching a YouTbe video or
media that you can relate to in the era of Smartphones. All
the people featured in VHS Nasty
are video nasty fans first and foremost
and this shows!
about your interviewees for a bit, and why exactly these people?
a huge indie underground horror fan, so instead of the usual names we see
pop up in documentaries, I love to have indie guys and gals in my docs,
like myself. There is a theme here with the VHS Lives
films, you will see
certain people return like Jim Towns [Jim
Towns interview - click here], Dustin Ferguson [Dustin
Ferguson interview -
click here], Richard Mogg, Shawn
C. Philips [Shawn C. Phillips
interview - click here], Rich Chandler [Richard
Chandler interview - click here], Peter Goddard and Mat Fisher to name a few, so
it was nice
to hear and see their views not on VHS per se but on the video nasty era. The
following people feature in the doc, all of which are true indie film
lovers and work within the genre, everyone of them have so much passion
and love for horror which shines through in the doc: Jim
C .Phillips, Peter
Figgis, John West, Nathan Hill [Nathan
Hill interview - click here], Jimmie
Anne Philputt, Danny
Maggot McDonough, Richard
Mogg, Lloyd Kaufman.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of VHS
gone down well and the pre-order DVD sales are good, VHS Lives Part 1 is
even called a schlockumentary, so people know what to expect, they don't
get a pretentious documentary, they get a movie doc that they can crack
open a beer and feel like they are sitting with their friends chatting on
the subject of video nasties, with awesome
cover art by Mancat Design to boot! A
documentary made by the every person ...created for the every person!
You also released a book about the same
subject recently, also called VHS Nasty - so do talk about the
book, and how do book and film complement one another?
NASTY: The Essential Guide Book to Video Nasties is
over 800 pages of nastiness... VHS video nasties, censorship and horror
films! The essential guide to video nasties, banned
films and censorship.
VHS Nasty :
The Essential Guide Book to Video Nasties is an
insight into the greatest era in horror and home video, told through the
eyes of filmmakers, producers, authors and horror fans. Written
by myself, co-authored by David Bond and a plethora of guest contributors
who give some amazing exclusive articles and essays on the subject. I
think they complement each other perfectly. I would watch the documentary
first then read to book to find out more on the subject.
doc itself is a fun look at the era and video nasties it's not a detail by
detail account which there are already some amazing documentaries about
the subject, this doc is a fun look at the video nasties from the point of
view from true indie filmmakers who most of which were inspired by these
to find out more and small details the book is the best thing to refer to.
Nasty the book Is available here:
$1.99 - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XSRSQ4R
£1.60 - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07XSRSQ4R
future projects you'd like to share?
currently working on a horror documentary entitled Oh! The Horror!:
From Celluloid to Snuff!, we will see some familiar faces from the VHS Lives
series as well as some new faces! The
horror doc will be talking on the birth of horror to the darkest depths of
horror in film such as the existence of snuff movies, and a few trailer
compilation films entitled, Schlock O'Rama, Previews of Coming Attractions
and Trailersploitation, all of which have distribution in place and will
be out next year! Also news on Creepypasta, the horror anthology, will be hitting very soon!
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on
started making short films in the back garden when I was in my teens, kind
of shot-on-video films, but back then you had no way of showcasing these
films and when you had the chance to tape a Hammer horror movie on a
Friday night you would just tape over the garbage you created in the
garden with tomato ketchup! Nowadays you can get in the backyard film a
schlocky horror short and get it up on YouTube the same day and have
people actually watch and critique your work! We are living in great times
now, we really are, indie/underground horror has never felt so alive as it
have been working on anthology films since 2012/13, prior to that I have
written film scripts, novels and been a script doctor on numerous film
projects, and holding competitions which filmmakers from across the
globe have their chance to have their horror short films featured in a
distributed DVD and VOD. The
first horror film anthology I worked on was Virus of the Dead
which I started in late 2013. I based the idea for the anthology on my
books The Zombie Rule Book and #I'm Zombie which are both published via
Cosmic Egg Books. Virus
of the Dead is now distributed by Wild Eye Releasing. With
Virus of the Dead I was trying to encourage upcoming filmmakers from
across the globe to submit videos with whatever technology they had at
hand. With Virus of the Dead being found footage films being filmed on smartphones only added to the authenticity of the film.
then I have worked on over 30 anthology films most
of which have been via submissions and competitions including the 60 Seconds to
Die film series where I asked filmmakers from across the globe
to submit 60 second short horror films creating one big anthology film, I
even had a big company want to take the idea and reshoot and was
approached the same with Virus of the Dead
but declined as I wanted the
films to be a platform
for upcoming filmmakers so they could showcase their work. I've had
filmmakers from schools, colleges and from all across the world including
the poorest countries submit work and have had their work showcased in a
distributed DVD, Blu-ray and VOD releases.
so my love for film led to me work in a video shop, then part of a big VHS/CD retailer, years past then I started to write more and more, even doing
ghostwriting on screenplays for theatre productions and love films. Then
I started to write books, I had the most success with The Zombie Rule
that was published with Cosmic Egg Books 2013, then I started writing
Zombie, which was also published by Cosmic Egg Books in
paperback. While I
was writing #I'm Zombie, which is a book based online when the Z-Poc hits,
so you would have a huge forum account of people going forth (damn, forums where huge back then! Where did they go?), and other online
accounts online, while writing the book I had a light-bulb moment and
thought this needs to be a film as we watch the zombie apocalypse unfold
through webcams, found footage as if other survivors were watching these
online during the Z-Poc, I started the Virus of the Dead idea in late
2013, then continued to create more anthology films and work more
producing and creating. I have never had any training, yeah since I've sat
in on a few film classes, but I think you have to look at the rule book
and make your own rules as you go along, as the environment is changing
all the time with regard to the internet, so we have to evolve with it. I
won't name names but I spoke with a few companies in 2013/14 and big named
directors who said to me I would never get Virus of the Dead made or
distributed on a zero budget - and I'm talking zero -, well the film got
made and distributed! And a company actually wanted me to can the film and
create a bigger budget movie, which I declined, as I'm all about true indie
Over the years, you have made a name of
yourself for putting together anthology movies featuring works from
directors from all around the world - so do talk about those anthologies
for a bit, and what's the idea behind them?
think when creating Virus of the Dead, as well as seasoned pros within the
genre I have featured upcoming filmmakers. I am so passionate about indie
filmmaking and the anthologies have been a great way to get upcoming
filmmakers' names out there and the confidence to move on to create feature
create and produce a lot of horror anthology films, all of the completed
anthology films have been distributed by different companies including Troma,
Wild Eye Releasing, Alchemy Werks and many other distributors.
passion is to encourage young and up-and-coming filmmakers to get into
filmmaking and use whatever they have at their disposal, be it the camera
phone in their back pocket to basically get out there and create art. We
are in great times with technology and great films
like Tangerine directed by Sean Baker and Unsane directed by
Soderbergh, both of which were shot on I-phones, were a huge success. We've
had a lot of filmmakers come through our films to go on to make other
films including short films at festival runs, and go on to make feature
films as well as a lot of true indie filmmakers who hadn't had a film
released or distributed before, and a mix of seasoned pro indie filmmakers.
for instance Virus of the Dead, it's a true mix of talent!
films of yours you'd like to talk about?
have to mention the Grindsploitation film series I produced, I have so
much love for those films! Troma
were a big influence to me growing up, so it's a great thrill to have
these films distributed by the legendary Troma label!
How would you
describe yourself as a director?
someone sent me a review recently, it said "You are the king of
schlock" after watching the Grindsploitation film series! So I think
that sums it up right there! I'll take that title any day! If
I had a big budget I would still be creating schlocky films and backyard
gore fests, I'm actually planning on a proper shot-on-video roots film
next year, the more gore and schlock the better!
Filmmakers who inspire
Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Lloyd Kaufman,
David Cronenberg, Daryush Shokof, David A. Prior, Herschell Gordon Lewis [Herschell
Gordon Lewis bio - click here].
Your favourite movies?
is a tough one, my list changes all the time, but
as of today here are a few of my all time favourite movies: Der
of 1000 Corpses, The
Toxic Avenger, Halloween
3: Season of the Witch, Eraserhead, The
Witch, Videodrome, Dawn
of the Dead, Friday
the 13th, The
Love Witch, Midsommer, Dead
Before Dawn, Slumber
Party Massacre, The
Bride of Frankenstein, Withnail
and I, Jackie
think that list sums up a good few of my all-time favourite films. We seem
to be in such good times with the current state of horror with films like Hereditary,
The Blackcoat's Daughter, The Ritual and some amazing foreign cinema like
Raw and Amer. I feel truly blessed to be living in these times and being
able to appreciate modern horror cinema back to the birth of horror with
films like Noferatu and Häxan.
... and of
course, films you really deplore?
is a weird one, I always find something in most films! Be it great
direction, production, score, but keeping with the horror theme I would
have to say remakes like The Martyrs or The Wicker Man...
Why? Just why did they bother?
website, Facebook, whatever else?
some places you can keep up to date on future projects!
Anything else you're
dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
out next year will be Dustin Ferguson's [Dustin
Ferguson interview -
click here] horror anthology VHS Violence Part
1, which will feature a crazy VHS style short of mine, and I co-produced
part 2 of VHS Violence: VHS and Kill along with Dustin Ferguson which
will hopefully be out next year as well!
was also a producer on the horror anthology Deep Web XXX which is deemed
too extreme by the mainstream and is out now on a limited edition Blu-ray
and DVD via Unearthed Films: https://www.unearthedfilms.com/
finished my new Horror
Movie Poetry Book - the
book is a collection of horror movie-inspired poems, from the creepy to
the bizarre. A
homage to horror movies, where imagery is turned into the written word.
Horror films are a beast of their own! This
was a really fun book to create while I was watching each of the horror
films in turn mostly on VHS video I created a poem on my old vintage
typewriter, then typed up on the computer fully unedited, so whatever came
out of the trusty typewriter from circa 1920 is what we see on the page! Horror
Movie Poetry is out now! https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07VM4759V
a few weeks ago I released Issue 1 on the VHS zine book Splatter Video
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
can check out the crazy the mad, the schlocky hair-raising homage to
schlock movies of yesteryear, mixed with a British kitchen sink drama
Toxic Schlock for
free on Troma Movies for a limited time here:
myself and Sam Mason Bell (Trash
Arts) [Sam Mason-Bell
interview - click here] both
directed Toxic Schlock have a few exciting projects up our sleeve for next
year including In The Dark, a documentary on fear!
Pictures and Trash
Arts' Home Videos 3 is set to be released on
December 17, 2019 - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WMM87N6/
watch this space!
for the interview!
love reading your amazing reviews and interviews and always look out for
more popping up so I can add more awesome films to my watch list!