During November Horror Channel showed a series of movies that pushed the boundaries of taste and what was deemed as acceptable under the title of Season Of The Banned. We chatted to those who grew up during this time and here we chat to respected journalist Billy Chainsaw about what he recalls of the Video Nasties era and what he’s working on at the moment.
HC: Can you remember the first horror you saw?
BC: It was James Whale's 1931 classic Frankenstein - on TV.
HC: Was this the movie that made you a fan of the horror genre?
BC: Film-wise, yes. However, it was my mom (RIP) who was really responsible for infecting me with the horror bug: unbeknownst to my dad, she'd let me stay up late and watch old horror films and series such as Tales of Mystery and Imagination on our black-and-white TV.
HC: How did you get your big break in journalism?
BC: Having quit my job as personal assistant to Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1996, I went on to work for a cutting-edge culture magazine called PURR – but it proved to be a short-lived experience. So I would credit my big break to UK rock mag Kerrang!'s (then) editor, Phil Alexander. Just prior to the release of Milos Foreman's The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), I asked Phil if I could write a feature on the films of said flick's female star, Courtney Love. When he agreed, I asked him why Kerrang! didn't have a film column, and he told me that they'd never considered it. So, in true Boys From the Blackstuff Yosser Hughes fashion, I said, "I can do that!"
And he let me.
HC: What do you recall of the Video Nasty uproar of the early 80s?
BC: At the time I found it hilarious how OTT the media and windbags like Mary Whitehouse went over the whole thing. It was totally ridiculous, this notion that man and dog alike could be severely corrupted, or worse still, transformed into a barking sociopath, just by watching a horror flick! In retrospect though, I now realise how terrifying it must have been for those unfortunates who got their collars unfairly felt by the boys in blue.
HC: Did you search out banned titles?
BC: Of course! And publication of 'the list' made it all the more easy to do so.
HC: Did any disappoint you?
BC: Not particularly: but I generally watched them with mates and fuelled by booze.
HC: Where do you stand on the issue of censorship?
BC: Although I am anti-censorship, I appreciate and believe that there are limits.
HC: Does the internet make the BBFC redundant as cut scenes etc can now be viewed online?
BC: I don't believe it does. The role of the BBFC is less about censoring horror films and more about ensuring films fall in line with certification guidelines - which covers everything from Cars 2 to The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) and all points in between.
HC: What are you working on at the moment?
BC: Aside from maintaining my roles as Film and DVD Editor on Bizarre magazine, and columnist in genre mag Shock Horror, I also run a free monthly film club at London’s Horse Hospital called CUT!. I am also developing a range of horror-related tableware and assorted swag. Maybe you'd be so kind as to give me a meaty plug when it's launched in early 2012!
HC: Billy Chainsaw, thank you very much.