How the moral hysteria of the 1980s spawned a cult horror canon

Image for this story

Ahead of the new horror film Censor, Leila Latif looks back at the "video nasty" panic that inspired it. Read an excerpt from the story below:

Prano Baily-Bond’s Censor has an otherworldly air about it. The protagonist, Enid (Niamh Algar), sits in a smoky Soho basement, wearing a high-buttoned shirt and gold-rimmed spectacles, watching and re-watching footage of blood-splattered women. She carefully cuts out shots of entrails and glimpses of genitals but permits a little “screwdriver stuff.” This windowless purgatory under seedy neon lights may feel like a Black Mirror dystopia of censorship, a fictional world in the grips of a sinister government fixated on salacious art. In reality, the film (which hits American theaters June 11 and VOD June 18) is reflecting a very real moment in relatively recent U.K. history: the early 1980s, an era of bizarre moral panic. It’s the age of the so-called video nasties.

Check out the rest of our retrospective here.