When looking at the history of banned movies, you should probably go to someone with a deep interest and love in horror films. That is where Chris Nials comes in. Chris, 34, is the founder of The London Horror Society, who specialize, unsurprisingly, in all things horror. The most important question is whether, as a horror fan, he feels some things should be banned. In response to this, he said: “I think I am more comfortable with something being banned if it is directly going to affect real lives. Bumfights is a good example.
“I remember when Bumfights was released to a lot of merriment from certain audiences, which I found pretty hard to stomach. That is when the boundaries are crossed. When you take it to real life”.
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Bumfights is a good example of something made purely for exploitative reasons and which probably deserves to be banned. But what does he think about fictional films, especially those made during the Video Nasty period. In regards to this, he said: “I was born in the 80s, so I had just about missed the bulk of the Video Nasty era by the time I became interested in film. But I still look back in disbelief that being in possession of a film was against the law, particularly when you consider it was not actually too long ago. Banning fictional content just seems beyond ridiculous, especially considering the other social issues that were occurring at the time. But perhaps this was a welcome distraction for the government.
“There is no doubt that the majority of these films contained extreme content. But the issue for me is having one adult say to another that you cannot watch this. It would be different if the material contained in the films was illegal but these films were created for an adult audience. A lot of the hysteria around video nasties focused on the effect they would have on children, but surely the responsibility should have lied more heavily with the parents. This was an era where you would be lucky to have one TV and one video player in the house, so it was not like kids could find this stuff on their laptops or phones.”
Away from this though, is there any films from the banned era Chris recommends? “Personal favourites of mine include The Burning, I Spit On Your Grave, Last House On The Left, and for me, the very underrated Evilspeak! You should never be banned from watching Clint Howard“. Finally, any other recommendations, away from the banned movies? “I think you always have a soft spot for your first, which for me was Halloween. I am also a huge fan of Dario Argento, with Deep Red and Suspiria being particular favourites, and of course, British horror too. The Wicker Man and Witchfinder General being two of my favourites.