Season Of The Banned - Interview With Director Jake West
By James Whittington, Friday 4th November 2011

Jake West Marc MorrisJake West (pictured left) is one of the UKs most talented directors. The man behind the hits Razor Blade Smile, Evil Aliens and Doghouse also runs the DVD label Nucleus with writer Marc Morris which specialises in releasing polished editions of cult movies. Jake, along with Marc will be here every Friday throughout November to introduce the movies in our Season Of The Banned celebration. To kick off the season Horror Channel is having a world TV premiere showing of their stunning documentary Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship And Videotape on November 4th at 10.55pm. Here Jake talks about censorship, the BBFC and his plans for the future.

HC: What was the first Video Nasty that you watched?

JW: The Evil Dead was one of the first ones that I ever saw. I was really interested in seeing that one. I was about 14 when it was banned so that was one of the first ones I saw. I also saw stuff like Dead And Buried and Deep Red, it just depended on how easy it was to get hold of them or whether if one of your mates had a copy back in those days. The first strong one I saw was Last House On The Left, that was the first one I thought, "Oh, that's quite nasty" but most of them you'd just wondered why the hell they’d been banned in the first place! (laughs)

HC: You mentioned the strength of the content seen in Last House On The Left, did that encourage you to seek out even stronger material to view?

JW: The thing is when these films were banned I was just becoming interested in horror films and video anyway and we'd just gotten a video recorder, so the fact that these things were being withdrawn and on the news you'd go up to your local video store to see if they had any and start trading tapes. The whole idea of them being forbidden made them a whole more desirable. But then when you saw the films you thought most of the time as to why they'd banned as they didn't seem to contain anything in particularly extreme. Then you'd have a few exceptions like Last House On The Left and I Spit On Your Grave and at that age they have quite an impact as they're pretty strong. I still don't think that they should be banned.

HC: Which movie out of the original list is your favourite?

JW: Obviously that's a difficult one as the nasties list is such a disparate one as there's no unity to them as things got banned willy nilly. For me my favourite film which was a nasty is The Evil Dead because it inspired me as a film maker. In terms of a nasty, for nasty content it could possibly be Cannibal Holocaust or Last House On The Left or I Spit On Your Grave in terms of content, maybe Last House On The Edge Of The Park all of which are still strong in content today. Some are still cut in the UK now but that's down to the BBFC's policy towards sexual violence.

HC: How did you go about producing your acclaimed documentary, Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship And Videotape which is getting its World TV premiere on the Horror Channel on November 4th?

JW: You may be aware of our Grindhouse Trailer Classics compilations [Volume 1 was shown on the Horror Channel recently. Ed]. Well, we had started doing those and people had responded really well to them and Marc Morris who I run Nucleus with had already done a couple of books on nasties already so we thought we'd do something similar with a video nasties compilation. Then we thought wouldn't it be good to explain why these were banned in the first place. But as we were finding more and more information about it and uncovering stuff it evolved into this massive production and ended up a 3-disc set that took us a year and half to do. It kind of grew organically and we were very proud of the documentary once we'd finished it.

HC: One of its strengths is that it's a very well balanced documentary.

JW: When we did the documentary we wanted to get all of the different people's voices from both sides of the argument. To get Graham Bright was a big coup for us because he hadn't spoken about it for a long time. What surprised us was that he hadn't changed his views at all, we were actually amazed and it was brilliant for the documentary, he hadn't subsequently looked at this stuff and thought it was ridiculous. He really stuck to his guns which was very interesting.

HC: What are your honest thoughts on the BBFC? Do they have an important role to play in this day and age?

JW: I'm for the BBFC in terms of classification and age classification but I think that's all they should do. I think if you want a film at an 18 level then it should be uncut. I think adults should be able to see uncut material. I don't think we should have cuts imposed on us by somebody else. I think if recent films like A Serbian Film, The Bunny Game and The Human Centipede 2 are considered too intense for a normal 18 they should have a new category like they have for porn an R18. They should have it so adults are allowed to see this material, certainly in cinemas and a controlled environment and it just seems wrong that we can't see it unless its cut or refused a certificate. I'm not in favour of censorship personally, the thing with technology is that people can download or order anything from anywhere in the world which makes a mockery of that system. I think they should look at it and modernise it, personally speaking.

HC: You and Marc are introducing the films during the Season Of The Banned.

JW: Yeah, that was great fun. We went back to all of the research we did to remember the facts and figures for each film. I hope people enjoy them when they see them.

HC: So what projects are you working on at the moment?

JW: I'm just about to start my segment for The ABCs Of Death, which is a concept anthology film which has got 26 genre directors attached to it. 26 directors – 26 ways to die! But that’s all I'm saying. There's also Grindhouse Trailers Volume 3 coming out on December 5th. A great party disc for Christmas!

HC: Jake West, thank you very much.

JW: A pleasure as always, James.

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