1. The Prowler / Rosemary's Killer
(Joseph Zito, 1981)
Video Nasties - pretty gory violence would have to be the reason, I'd imagine.
Above average slasher movie from early in the heyday of the genre, with a WWII-set prologue in which an apparent soldier kills a couple in a gazebo on the campus of a university town, only to appear again in the present day, with pitchfork in one hand and long knife in the other. What makes this worthwhile within the genre is the Tom Savini makeup and FX, he was probably the cream of the crop at the time and his work doesn't disappoint, and Zito's direction is fine if more workmanlike than really exciting.
2. Horí, má panenko / The Fireman's Ball
(Milos Forman, 1967)
Wikipedia List - Banned by the Czech Communist government in 1968 for its satire of the East European communist system
Another very simple film in terms of it's plotting, Forman's third and last film made in his home country (until 2009) is a satire on Czech (and implicitly Soviet, and Communist) bureaucracy - a group of volunteer firemen hold a party/dance/dinner/beauty pageant in honor of their elder and retiring leader that goes entirely awry - that seems rather soft, amusing and gentle at first but gradually grows darker and angrier as it goes on - though still always maintaining a predominantly humorous tone. This is a film that practically everybody but me has seen so I"m not sure what I can add to any discussion, particularly since I remain fairly ignorant of the politics of the time and place, but it's a pretty wonderful film at any rate and probably the best thing I've seen from this director. And the ending is one of those entirely predictable but still very funny moments that you just wait for and can't help smiling at. All the theft, all the lies, all the jokes.
3. The Driller Killer
(Abel Ferrara, 1979)
Video Nasties - sez under IMDb trivia: Could have easily escaped the UK 'video nasty' list if the original pre-VRA video cover wasn't so graphic. it featured a very bloody close-up of a drill boring into a man's head with lots of blood. The video cover was featured in video catalogues and received many complaints.
There's some drillin', there's some killin', mostly together. Ferrara himself plays the frustrated artist who goes nuts and apparently - there's a light dream-like quality that makes it unclear for a while whether his is all his imagination - starts killing homeless dudes with a battery-powered drill because the people upstairs are playing their rock-and-roll too loud and because life in general sucks. This feels in most ways like an uneasy amalgam of art-film and exploitation work, and there's a strange and kind of funny self-conscious side to it - a girl in the rock group asks the leader why he has these two women in the band who don't belong, right after a completely gratuitous scene of them making out naked in a shower. The acting
4. ...E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilà / The Beyond
(Lucio Fulci, 1981)
Video Nasties -uhh, eyeballs!
More than slightly Lovecraftian tale of a woman (Catriona MacColl) who inherits an old house in Louisiana and sets out restoring it, only to find out that it's a DOORWAY TO HELL!!! This has some swell cinematography and some fairly gruesome gore of the kind that even a Fulci novice like me knows to expect - eyeball popping of course, loads of very fake blood - and it's got a rather cool ending, but maybe I've just seen too much Lovecraftian stuff at this point, and maybe the slapdash plotting irritated me a bit too much. And the fact that the horror ends up being
zombies. Why did it have to be zombies? I hate zombies!
Also distracted by the dubbing - this was actually shot mostly in Louisiana apparently, and the two leads (David Warbeck as the doctor who gets involved with the horror early on) were both native English-speakers but the dub is pretty bad - I guess if I ever watch it again I'll look for the Italian dub.
5. Lisa, Lisa / Axe
(Frederick R. Friedel, 1974)
Video Nasties - not all that gory, but quite unpleasant and nihilistic, I guess that's ban-worthy.
Rather poor, very low budget home-invasion horror in which three murderous criminals find their way to an isolated farmhouse but get more than they bargained for from the title character who lives there with her completely disabled grandfather. This is one of those films that probably is less gory than it otherwise might have been mostly for budgetary reasons - shot in a week apparently and I'd imagine little money was there for blood and guts, just enough to get people into the seats. The actress who plays Lisa is ok, the other actors pretty bad - and it's one of those very short films (just over an hour) that feel much longer, because there's really nothing interesting or novel here. Home invasion films are often among the least-interesting horror or thriller films to me, and this is a prime example.
6. Day of the Woman / I Spit on Your Grave
(Meir Zarchi, 1978)
Video Nasties - a half-hour rape scene I'd imagine was the main reason, though the whole film is relentlessly "nasty".
I'd heard about this for years but stayed away out of first squeamishness, then just a lack of interest - being more into horror now than I was even 5 years ago, I finally succumbed to the lure of it. And... I dunno, this is one of the more conflicted feelings I've had lately. It really is a repellent and ugly film in a lot of ways, and I just don't see the justification for the obscenely prolonged rape and physical assault that makes the film so deservedly controversial; it's the first film in some time that I've watched that nearly made me ill. BUT I have read that it's become something of a cause for some feminist critics, on the grounds that you really do have to see just how awful rape is - and how dangerous and unfortunately commonplace the casual male aggression that we see in the film is - to understand and accept the cathartic and very violent revenge that heroine Jennifer metes out to her attackers. It's also got at least a little bit of interest in it's filmmaking - there are a couple of very long shots for example that might seem to start out as just the men playing "harmless" games, driving their boat around in circles, but the relentlessness of the held shots seems to amplify the growing danger. I dunno - I think there's some interesting stuff here, but I think it could have still been a sleazy exploitation film with a little less of that awful half-hour sequence, and just a little more in the way of story or character development. But maybe I'm missing the point...