Seeing as my old blog was taken down due to the host site going out of business a lot of my old posts are no longer up for people to read, I at first resisted the urge to repost too much of it here on my new blog unless I in some way added to it. I did this when I took a second look at the Sega Mega Drive game, I esssentially put my post up but then added comments to it almost reviewing my own review and seeing if my attitude had changed. any of my followers will know that I have been trying to review 150 SNES games but if you have followed me for a long time then you will Know that at one stage I had the intenton of reviewing all of what are called the DPP72 Films otherwise known as the Video Nasties. Here is my original review of the Evil Dead which is from this list with some additional thoughts. If youd like to ignore my ramblings and merly read the original Review then ignore the bolded Italic sections.
I am a child of the 80’s. I was born in 1981 and one year later the term "Video Nasty" was coined. It was a term which applied to a number of films distributed on video cassette that were being criticized for their violent content. The first time I remember being terrified was when I saw part of the horror movie Critters which was released in 1986. This was far from a video nasty it wouldn’t be until the year 1997 when I saw my first Video Nasty it was the well-known horror masterpiece The Evil Dead. At this point in time the Video Recordings Act of 1984 was still in effect so The Evil Dead was still technically illegal in the UK. The video cassette I watched it on was a very bad pirate with foreign subtitles running across the bottom of the screen, it had that incredibly blurry nature you get when something is a copy of a copy of a copy but somehow this lent itself to the nature of the film. As I put the cassette in the video recorder and me and a few of my close friends began to watch it, it felt otherworldly, it was like we had found our own copy of the book of the dead and we were reading it out loud.
I actually wish I still had a copy of the Evil Dead like this, dont get me wrong I greatly enjoy wathcing the Evil Dead when its a nice crisp transfer on an optical disk being viewed on a glorius high definition telly but a sort of grindhouse video nasty filter would make a great addition to one of the films re-releases, a bit like how scan lines and distortion sometimes get added in to game emulators or as options in game re-releases.
If you are in to horror then chances are you have seen The Evil Dead and to this day it is popular, it spawned 2 sequels and a remake so far. It has ceased to be just a part of the Video Nasty media frenzy but in some ways I would argue it never really was. When me and my friends watched The Evil Dead it touched something inside of us, it was raw in a way a lot of other films are not. It was a brilliantly enjoyable film but with its setting and its limited cast size it had that sort of anyone could make this flavour to it. My friends and I would quote lines from it, we would reinact parts of it and it was one of a small number of films which led to several of us wanting to make films, star in films or write scripts and that is impressive for a film which many people including the founder of the National Viewers and Listeners Association Mary Whitehouse tried to label as obscene.
The Obscene Publications Act defines obscenity as something which may "tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it". The Evil dead opened my mind to the possibilities of making movies, of writing horror stories, it made me aware that film was more than just something you watch. I do not have a criminal record, I have never served time in jail nor have any of the individuals who watched the evil dead with me on that day. On this evidence alone I deny the claim that The Evil Dead is obscene therefore I do not believe it deserves its place as a ‘’Video Nasty’’.
You see a lot of people wanted the films on the DPP72 banned because they believed that they would taint children in some way, that they would harm us, but the Evil Dead actually had the opposite effect not just on me as I stated during my review but on all of my friends, none of us saw it and wanted to go out there and comit acts of violence, actually we wanted to learn. We wanted to learn about how films were made, about lighting, camera angles, acgting, script writting. The film seemed like not only a great film but a how to guide, a guide on how to make a great film with a small budget, a low number of actors and just a lot of raw energy and drive. It is funny when you think about it that a lot of these Video Nasties were in a way built on the essence of sort of 80's Thatcher economics, they showed that with not much money or resources but a lot of effort you could make it as a sucess and climb out of the economic situation you were born into, and yet they were ultimatly shunned by the people who promoted one of the ideals that they were built upon.
The Evil Dead is no longer banned in the UK. On the DPP list of 'Video Nasties' there are a total of 72 films. 39 of these films were successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, the remaining 33 were either not prosecuted or had unsuccessful prosecutions. Only 10 of these films still remain banned in the UK, the main reason for this being that most of them have not been resubmitted for classification. So if they were so awful then why are we allowed them now? I think the truth is that we have moved on, as a society we were caught in a moral panic one which has now moved from the world of films and in to the world of games. Some of the films which get released now days make the Video Nasties look like footage of a child’s teddy bear’s picnic in comparison and yet they manage to come out with very little resistance.
I also think that its not just the fact that society has grown more tolernt of gore I also think there has been a shift in terms of class relations. When you watch a lot of the old documenteries about the Video Nasties you will come across this attitude whereby basically posh upper middle and upper class people look down on certain forms of media while simultaniously trying to say that it will rot the poor mans mind and make a murderer of him because the poor man is stupid and easily manipulated. We went through a whole set of changes where certain politicians were trying to push the idea of a classless society and that in combination with things such as the growth of speaking platforms for all because of the internet have led to a socierty where ideas as stupid as ''oh it would corrupt the poor idiots'' are challanged. The net itself also acts against any one country being overly protective of its people and treating them like kids,, because if something is illegal in your country but is accepted in most others then it will be easy to find online, and the truth is while certain people in the UK were making a big fuss of the whole Video Nasties thing in a lot of countries they just couldnt understand the big deal we were making
If you look at the modern remake of The Evil Dead which is titled Evil Dead the film is no less bloody, the concept is virtually the same and yet it was practically applauded upon its release. Do I think this is because we live in a more morally corrupt society or that it is because we have all been changed and depraved by the Video Nasties we have lived through? Of course not, there is a difference between fantasy and reality and I think that just maybe those in control of the formation of home movie related policies have started to realise that most adults know the difference between the two.
So why did I end here? I hadnt really even reviewed The Evil Dead , I had basically just wrote a peiece about why it didnt deserve to be banned while introducing people to the whole DPP72 thing, the biggest irony being that before I did each of the I think in the end it was about 6 reviews I did of DPP72 films I actually watched the films at least once, most of the time a few times so I could enjoy or not enjoy each film and so that I could then do it again and make notes. What I should have said is that the Evil Dead is a brilliant film, it is full of intresting ideas, great camera angles and tricks that really make you feel like a part of everything that is going on around you, special effects which look far better than you would imagine and some brilliant acting. Watching the lead Bruce Campbell its not hard to see why he has ended up becoming a B-Movie legend, he simply acts the living heck out of the role and everyone else does a more than fair job. A lot of the criticism of Video Nasties seemed to lay with the fact that they were gore for gores ake but I dont feel that this is the case at all in Evil Dead the gore always serves the story and so I dont think it should be resented, you wouldnt complain about a bit of blood in a theatre production of a Shakespere play so why should you here? I would give Evil Dead a very solid 8.5 out of 10 as a film, it is something I have watched time and time again and I m sure I will continue to do so, there is a reason this film spawned 2 sequels, countless video game and comic book adaptions and recently its own TV series and thats because its GROOVY.