Label: Anchor Bay UK
Release Date: 13th March 2006
Director: Dario Argento, Luigi Cozzi, Eric Weston, Matt Cimber, Lawrence D. Foldes.
Stars: Daria Nicolodi, John Saxon, Anthony Franciosa, Ian McCulloch, Clint Howard, R. G. Armstrong, Millie Perkins, Aldo Ray.
Following on from Anchor Bay UK's BOX OF THE BANNED DVD collection comes a second collection; BOXED OF THE BANNED 2, featuring five more of the most shocking and notorious "video nasties" ever to see the light of day, plus a bonus disc featuring part 2 of David Gregory's brand new documentary BAN THE SADIST VIDEOS. Film notes by John Martin (author of Seduction of the Gullible) are also included as a booklet.
This six-disc collection brings together five of the movies which were originally banned in the UK under the Obscene Publications Act during the years 1983-84 – Dario Argento's giallo masterpiece TENEBRAE, Luigi Cozzi's CONTAMINATION, Eric Weston's EVILSPEAK, Matt Cimber's surreal THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA, and Lawrence D. Foldes' rarely-seen DON'T GO NEAR THE PARK.
The first BOX OF THE BANNED showcased some of the chief culprits, in the eyes of the unsophisticated 1980’s press; DRILLER KILLER (or KILLER DRILLER as “film critic” Clare Raynor once said in disgust), I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, ZOMBIE FLESHEATERS, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, and NIGHTMARES IN A DAMAGED BRAIN. In these times of flashy but anaemic remakes, It’s encouraging to note that some IMDB users still use the word “offensive” when referring to this batch of films. The eclectic collection that comprises the second box suitably reflects the diverse and often bizarre mix of films that ended up on the DPP list at the height of the video nasty hysteria. The list became a meeting place of art and trash. A cinema programmer wouldn’t have dreamed of screening some of these films together prior to the list. They have no common themes linking them; they spanned the years 1963 to 1982, and originate from various countries. But now these films are firmly etched into the British psyche. Any self-respecting UK horror film fan can rattle off the full DPP list at the drop of a hat, after all we spent long enough searching them out at car boot fairs and charity shops - but that’s another story.
This is not the place to go through the whole saga of the Video Nasty era again as it has been well-documented in books (Shock Horror, Seduction of the Gullible, The Video Nasties and See No Evil), and on the Internet. David Gregory’s documentary takes up the story following the initial wave of hysteria. Video once again became a scapegoat for the press following the dreadful James Bulger murder case. David Alton MP attempted to tighten up the Video Recordings Act and make it even more restrictive. A situation could have arisen where CHILD’S PLAY and SCHINDLER’S LIST would have been rubbing shoulders together on the DPP list if Alton had succeeded in his misguided quest. In the documentary, writers Tom Dewe Mathews (Censored) and Julian Petley are interviewed along with several ex-BBFC members who didn’t exactly see eye-to eye with BBFC director James Ferman, who is described as being authoritarian, and more of a feminist than some of the female board members. He liked to cut films and fancied himself as something of an editor. He conducted a personal vendetta against THE EXORCIST, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and STRAW DOGS, all of which were released shortly after his departure from the board. Surprisingly enough, Ferman opposed the Alton amendment as he thought that Britain was already heavily censored and no further legislation was required. Thankfully the amendment was eventually rejected by the then home secretary - Dracula himself - Michael Howard.
And so, on to the films themselves:
TENEBRAE (d. Dario Argento, Italy, 1982)
Dario Argento's self-proclaimed "gory rollercoaster… full of fast and furious murders" marked the director's return to the straight giallo format (if there can be such a thing) after a brief venture into the supernatural with SUSPIRIA and INFERNO, the first two movies in his yet to be finished “Three Mothers” trilogy. Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa), an American crime writer, becomes involved in a series of killings in Rome; they are influenced by his most recent book, 'Tenebrae'. In the film male and female sexual deviancy are central issues, and seem to provide the motivation for the killings. The 'razor killer' punishes those whom he considers to be guilty of 'aberrant' behaviour. Argento provides us with hints to an earlier crime through the use of dreamlike flashbacks, and a recurring musical motif throughout the film. The twists and turns of the plot are echoed in the virtuoso cinematography of Luciano Tovoli especially in the now famous louma crane tracking shot. The excellent Goblin soundtrack combines a mix of rock, pioneering electro and a haunting music-box theme that perfectly comlpliment the visuals. TENEBRAE was banned on video in the UK until 1999, when it was released in a cut form, but it has since been passed uncensored. The film is a superbly orchestrated and inventive suspense thriller packed with horrific scenes of graphic violence; a perfect introduction to the Italian ‘giallo’.
CONTAMINATION (d. Luigi Cozzi, Italy, 1980)
Luigi Cozzi, a protégé of Dario Argento, had directed the excellent Hitchcockian thriller THE KILLER MUST KILL AGAIN (1972), but his first love was science fiction. In the wake of STAR WARS he made the sci-fi adventure STARCRASH (1979), starring Caroline Munro and Joe Spinell. Then, inspired by the success of Ridley Scott’s ALIEN, he directed the notorious CONTAMINATION in 1980. The film stars cult icon Ian McCulloch (ZOMBIE FLESHEATERS and ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST) alongside Marino Mase (TENEBRAE), Lisa Hahn (THEY CALL ME TRINITY) and Louise Marleau (SATAN’S SABBATH) and features another superb score by Goblin (TENEBRAE, DAWN OF THE DEAD, SUSPIRIA).
The film starts in a similar manner to Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE FLESHEATERS;
a mysterious, seemingly uninhabited, cargo ship drifts into New York harbour
and naturally attracts the attention of the authorities. A team of investigators
boards the ship to discover the grossly mutilated bodies of the crew and
a strange cargo of coffee crates containing what appear to be large green
eggs. When a team member picks up one of the eggs to examine it, it explodes
in his face, showering him and several of his colleagues with a corrosive
slime. Seconds later, those affected by the slime begin to writhe in agony
before their chests explode in a shower of gore. Teaming up with the military,
in the form of ice-maiden Colonel Stella Holmes (Louise Marleau), the sole
survivor of the incident, New York cop Lieutenant Tony Aris (Martin Mase)
heads up an investigation which leads to an alcoholic former astronaut (Ian
McCulloch), a failed mission to Mars and a planned alien invasion. Cozzi’s
film is a trash classic.
Although influenced by ALIEN the film also resembles QUATERMAS II with its virulent space eggs, and a queen alien that harks back to classic 1950’s sci-fi. Originally Cozzi had wanted to call the film ALIEN 2, (Fulci’s ZOMBIE FLESHEATERS was called ZOMBI 2 in Italy; an unofficial sequel to George Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD or ZOMBI), but 20th Century Fox had objected to this title and so it became known as CONTAMINATION or ALIEN CONTAMINATION. Of course Ridley Scott’s ALIEN wasn’t a totally original idea in the first place; it had been inspired in part by PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965, d. Mario Bava), Cozzi was merely continuing a tradition of generic cultural exchange. Cozzi ditched Scott’s claustrophobic atmosphere and plot involving a marauding alien on a space ship, but kept the alien eggs and the gruesome chest-bursting scene. Whilst this scene had only taken up only a scant few minutes of ALIEN, it became the whole raison d’etre of CONTAMINATION as Cozzi multiplied it into many explosive gory incidents which upset the British censor.
EVILSPEAK (d. Eric Weston, USA, 1981)
Directed (and co-written and co-produced) by Eric Weston (COVER STORY and TO PROTECT AND SERVE), EVILSPEAK is a supernatural splatter classic starring Clint Howard (brother of Oscar winning director Ron Howard and star of many of his films, including THE MISSING, BACKDRAFT and COCOON). The film also stars genre favourite R.G. Armstrong (PREDATOR and CHILDREN OF THE CORN).
Nerdy teenage outcast Stanley Coopersmith spends most of his days being bullied by everybody at the strict military academy he has attended since the death of his parents. In his spare time he finds some peace by retreating to the basement crypt beneath the school's chapel, where he discovers a book containing the writings of a 16th Century priest-turned-Satanist known as Father Esteban. While inquisitively translating Esteban's work on his computer, Stanley creates and performs a virtual Black Mass unleashing a vengeful and unholy terror upon his tormentors. As all Hell literally breaks loose, the school is soon overrun by Satanic, flesh-eating pigs and a sword-wielding demon in possession of Stanley's mind and body.
EVILSPEAK was one of the first horror films to use a personal computer as a plot device, and feature computer graphics. It followed HAL in 2001: A SPACE ODDYSEY (1968) and the rapist computer in DEMON SEED (1977). The film was lauded by none other than Anton LaVey, the High Priest of the Church of Satan; whose organisation once caused a controversy by endorsing Apple Mac computers on their website. No doubt Coopersmith connected to Esteban via the Universal Satanic Bus. EVILSPEAK is very well made and still extremely entertaining, if you can put up with a little puppy cruelty from the academy bullies. Revenge comes in the form of head twisting and levitated swordplay, and in a rather bizarre take on the PSYCHO shower scene, a naked woman is menaced by killer pigs in her bath.
EVILSPEAK is now fully restored to all its gory glory from newly discovered vault sources (including several long-rumoured but rarely seen sequences of graphic and bloody carnage). This version is actually Disc 2 of the EVILSPEAK double disc that came out earlier from Anchor Bay. It’s a pity they couldn’t have combined the extras from Disc 1.
THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA (d. Matt Cimber, USA, 1976)
Psychologically disturbed by the abuse she received as a child from her
alcoholic father, Molly begins to indulge in morbid fantasies in which she
casually picks up men from the Venice Beach area for drug-fuelled orgies
that invariably end in bloody mutilation. But are these acts merely the
invention of Molly's damaged psyche… or are they real? Featuring superb
cinematography by John Carpenter's regular cinematographer Dean Cundey,
Matt Cimber's shocking film is a real cult classic from the video nasty
era. A bizarre tale, more art-house than horror – and the second ‘razor
killer’ in this collection. The original video cover bore the tag-line,
“A young woman’s nightmare of incest and castration”.
The synopsis on the rear of the video read, “Molly has a way with
razors! She uses them with devastating effect. She cuts men down to size
in an effort to revenge herself of her father’s sexual perversions”.
I can’t really add much to that. But can you imagine this appearing
on the shelves of your local Blockbuster store?
DON'T GO NEAR THE PARK (d. Lawrence D. Foldes, USA, 1981)
DON’T GO NEAR THE PARK brings flesh-eating horror to modern-day Los Angeles as two 12,000-year-old members of an ancient tribe of super humans seek to recapture the secret of eternal youth. Their only hope, according to the prologue, lies in the ritual sacrifice of a 16-year-old female virgin. In the meantime they sustain themselves by eating the warm entrails of murder victims. Of course the decidedly rubbery looking disembowellings were still enough to alarm the BBFC, and onto the list it went. The film has marvellous inexplicable moments such as a vampire-like killer bursting in on a terrified Linnea Quigley in the shower; rather than calling the police - she rents him a room. Later she finds a bloodstained newspaper bearing the headline, “Child Lost Again” in his brief case alongside a machete, so once again rather than calling for help, she marries him instead!
The trailer attempts to sell DON’T GO NEAR THE PARK as a zombie film, “The evil curse of the lusting vampires” no doubt to capitalise on it’s grungy living dead make-up which must have comprised a greater part of the film’s budget. The deleted scenes feature more gut-munching, Quigley nude (surprisingly enough) more hints of incest, love scenes between daughter Bondy and the cowboy, and flashbacks to an eye shooting. Trash or not, Anchor Bay UK have done an admirable job as the picture quality is superb – certainly a damn sight better than that old Intervision tape.
A great collection that reflects those crazy times in the mid -1980’s; a stylish giallo, some classic sci-fi splatter, supernaturally controlled killer pigs, a bizarre study of incest-fuelled psychosis, and a 12,000 year old curse involving cannibalism and human sacrifice. Who could possibly resist?
Dolby Surround 2.0
Dolby Digital 5.1
Audio Commentary with Dario Argento, music composer Claudio Simonetti (Goblin) and journalist Loris Curci
Dario Argent interview
Film analysis by Xavier Mendik
Special camera effects documentary
Sound effects documentary
Alternative end credits.
Widescreen presentation (enhanced for 16x9 TVs)
Dolby 2.0 stereo and optional 5.1 surround and DTS audio
"Alien Arrives on Earth" (interview with director and co-writer Luigi Cozzi)
Behind the scenes documentary
Poster and stills gallery
Conceptual drawings gallery
Biographies of Luigi Cozzi and Ian McCulloch
DVD-Rom content featuring the graphic novel version of the film.
Uncut feature length version
Anchor Bay trailers: THE MANSON FAMILY, BUBBA-HO-TEP, UNDEAD, TOOLBOX MURDERS.
THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA
Dolby Stereo 2.0
Optional 5.1 Surround
DON’T GO NEAR THE PARK
Dolby Stereo 2.0
Optional 5.1 Surround
Audio commentary with Lawrence D. Foldes and Linnea Quigley