Category Archives: Spoof

Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape

What Jesse said:

Another cool documentary for you. This time it’s about how in the early 80’s the powers-that-be in the UK thought that a list of about 80 mostly crappy movies referred to as The Video Nasties, was going to corrupt an entire generation of British kids. Complete with hilarious stories of UK Parliamentarians sitting around one day to watch these low-budget horror movies (some became physically ill and most couldn’t take more than a few minutes…), or how because of the confusion of not knowing which exact movies were on “the list” police officers were confiscating titles such as Apocalypse Now or other definitely non-nasty or even critically acclaimed films from the shelves of corner store video shops in England. There were video “burnings”, and some shop owners even did jail time for stocking some of these titles! Nothing like a good moral panic to get the old juices flowing…Crazy doc. Enjoy.

Mike’s verdict:

Let’s get one thing out of the way up front – I am totally, utterly and completely against censorship. I don’t believe that the state should attempt to block the expression of ideas whether they are in print, video, audio, stone tablet or the voice of the crazy guy yelling on the corner. Governments should be free to pay experts to publish information, but they should not block non-experts from publishing as well. That’s not to say that I think most people have valid opinions. They don’t. And I certainly don’t care to actually listen to most people’s opinions. I’m also not under the delusion that everyone has some inherent ‘right’ to be heard, and I don’t think that spilling blue paint on a sidewalk constitutes ‘art’.  What I do believe is that everyone has a responsibility to ignore the opinions they find disagreeable. Don’t like that TV show? – change the channel. Don’t like what’s on the radio? – learn to play the guitar. Don’t want to see naked people killed by chainsaw-wielding maniacs? – don’t rent the video. Don’t want your children to see naked people killed by chainsaw-wielding maniacs? – don’t let them rent the video either. I’d like to live in a world where people think of their interactions with others as governed by personal responsibility – not personal rights.  What’s that? You think you have a right to be heard? Great. The best part of my worldview is that I don’t need to argue with you. You can stand on your soapbox all day – I’m going to get a sandwich.

That being said, I thought this movie was mostly a waste of time. It’s terrible that a group of almost-parliamentarians were allowed to create a panic that allowed corrupt police to put video store owners in jail. Seriously, that is terrible. But I didn’t need to watch endless interviews cut with unpleasant video clips to reach that conclusion. Granted, before watching the documentary I had no idea that this particular moral panic had occurred. But there’s really no difference between this panic and any other that has led to censorship. The film-makers here could have made a 60 second public service announcement and got most of their point across.  This is particularly true now that we have the internet to show us all the unpleasant video we can stand, and nobody able to censor it.

Two and a half decades ago, someone should have stepped in to stop what was obviously unfair treatment of video store owners. And this should definitely go into the history books as one more example (in an extremely long list) of why state censorship is a terrible idea. But there was no need for this lesson in 2010 – nobody was then or is now in any danger of having their ‘right to watch gross movies’ taken away.

I’m pretty sure the film-makers just wanted an excuse to watch all the movies their parents warned them about.

3/10 – But only because I learned a bit of history.


House (“Hausu”)

What Jesse said:

Have you seen Hoozoo, Hauzoo, Hosso, uh, whatever it’s called – it means House?  It’s a crazy 70s Japanese flick. There isn’t even anything else I can say about it. It’s  crazy. There’s a piano scene. That’s all I can say.

Mike’s verdict:

Wow. There definitely is a piano scene. A ridiculously absurd piano scene. You see it coming like a train wreck in slow motion and it’s fantastic in its absurdity. The whole movie is.

I haven’t seen too many other Japanese movies from the 70s (or any at all), so I don’t know if House is typical or something completely different. It’s a lot like the classic American horror movies of the time; at least it has the same basic format – a group of friends in an unfamiliar environment are killed-off one at a time in increasingly gruesome ways. But where American horror takes itself seriously (even if the audience doesn’t), House almost feels like a spoof. It’s so over the top ridiculous that it’s hard to believe it’s not intentional. It feels like a caricature right from the beginning with a bizarre music montage that goes on so long you’ll start to wonder if you’ve been tricked into watching a musical. Plus, the seven girls all have silly nick-names that are clearly intended to reflect their character’s individual theme. Melody, for example, plays the piano. Even the dialog seems intentionally goofy at times, and not just in the way that asian movies always get goofy when they are translated. This feels like it would still be goofy even if I understood Japanese.

My favourite thing about the movie? Kung Fu. She’s sort of a hero – in an Adam-West-Batman meets Hit Girl kind of way.

The only thing that bothers me about House is the fact that it has subtitles. I don’t mind having to read once in a while, but this movie is very visual and I can’t properly appreciate it because I have to focus on the very bottom of the screen. That’s not really the movies fault but it’s still an issue.

Overall, I liked it and this one will probably stay in my collection so that I can share it with others.


This is the End

What Jesse said:

Hey, I have a movie you need to see. Actually, let’s go see it in the theatre. I’ve already seen it once with other people and didn’t bother to invite you. But I want to see it again and don’t want to go alone. What? It’s not in theatres anymore? Okay, well how about this then: we’ll wait until it’s available for home viewing, you can get it for me, and then we’ll watch it at my place. Oh, and every time I see you for the next month I’m going to ask if you have it yet, so don’t take your time.

Mike’s verdict:

This is the End is hilarious from beginning to end. Especially the end. What could be better than a bunch of celebrities, playing funnier versions of themselves coming to terms with the apocalypse while partying at James Franco‘s house? James Franco is a surprisingly good actor, but I’d never really thought of him as funny. He’s definitely funny now. Awesome cast, loads of cameos, fantastic writing. 10/10

Black Dynamite

What Jesse said:

You should come spend your Saturday night in my basement with a bunch of other dudes. We’ll get pizza and check out Black Dynamite. I just watched the trailer with the sound off and my eyes closed – I think this one will sweep the Oscars this year.

Mike’s verdict:

4/10  (+5 for the pizza, -1 for making me remember Arsenio Hall)