The Evil Dead has a chequered censorship history. Upon it's initial release it was censored or banned in a number of countries including Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland & Sweden, but is now available uncut in most western countries. It's most interesting path had through the UK video market, one among a list of banned the so called 'video nasties', which is explored here.
BBFC censorship of The Evil Dead
Special Thanks to the BBFC for compiling this history. The Evil Dead was originally passed 'X' for UK cinema release in 1982.
49s of cuts were made to obtain the 'X' certificate. A number of small cuts were made throughout the film to reduce the overall amount of gore and detailed violence (e.g. the repeated twisting of the pencil into the ankle). Although some examiners found the film funny - and well made - others were quite squeamish about it. It was therefore felt that, given the small potential for some people not to 'see the joke', it would be better for the film's more violent elements to be reduced slightly for national release.
The cuts made to The Evil Dead for an 'X' cinema certificate in 1982 & the later in 1982 video version as follows (49 seconds removed) :-
Reel 2 - remove prolonged screwing into ankle of pencil (point may be seen going in and resultant bleeding, but turning of pencil in wound must be removed).
Reel 3 - (i) reduce sight of Shelley chewing off her hand; (ii) remove close shots of Scotty chopping Shelley's hand and legs off; (iii) reduce to a minimum sight of fluid spewing from Linda's mouth after falling on dagger.
Reel 4 - (i) reduce sight of Linda's hand tearing into Ashley's leg; (ii) reduce to minimum bashing of Linda's head and body with wooden post; (iii) reduce trunk gushing blood after head is cut off; (iv) reduce to one blow only smashing of fingers in door; (v) reduce to establishment sight of eye gouging; (vi) remove blood gush after stake into side; (vii) reduce zombie's smashing into Ash's back with poker.
The 'X' rated video version was soon added to the DPP's list of 'video nasties' and was seized by the police from video stores around the country - despite the Board's protests that it had been properly classified by us.
However, given that The Evil Dead had received a number of convictions in regional courts the Board was reluctant to pass the film on video in its present form. As a result of the 'video nasty' scare, horror standards were generally tightened up post-Video Recordings Act (VRA) and it was felt better to allow some water to flow under the bridge before considering again what was one of the best known 'nasties'.
In 1990, James Ferman made a number of further cuts to the video - totalling 1 minute 6 seconds - and finally agreed to pass the video '18' in this version. In total, 1 minute 55 seconds had been removed (49 seconds of film cuts and 1 minute 6 seconds of additional video cuts).
At 25 minutes - reduce sight of woman being 'raped' by creepers by removing (i) creeper binding around her breast, (ii) creeper wrapping around her thighs and up skirt, (iii) legs being pulled apart, (iv) branch shooting into crotch.
At 41 minutes - reduce bloody clawing at man's face, removing second shot entirely.
At 42 minutes - reduce scene of man defending himself against zombie attack by removing (i) 2nd shot of zombie's wrist being cut, (ii) most of 2nd shot of zombie biting its own wrist, (iii) 2nd shot of knife in zombie's back with stump of arm feeling for it; also reduce (i) spewing of liquid from mouth, (ii) spurting from stump of arm and (iii) chopping of body with axe [this last to be reduced considerably].
At 55 minutes - shorten sight of female zombie licking blood from knife and sight of blood from her mouth when she falls on knife.
At 61 minutes - reduce sight of zombie clawing man's leg; also reduce sight of bashing zombie with post and subsequent sight of headless zombie spurting blood onto man as it lies on top of him (2nd shot to be removed entirely).
At 72 minutes - remove end of shot in which stake is pulled out of zombie's thigh.
At 76 minutes - reduce final spurting of blood and entrails, removing explosion of blood onto hero's face.
When the Board was asked to consider the film again in 2000 we decided that, by present standards, the effects were comical and unconvincing and therefore none of the original cuts should be required. Public attitudes had also shifted, our public consultation in 1999-2000 having revealed that the public felt that people should be free to watch what they wanted at the adult level, provided it was neither illegal nor harmful. It was passed '18' uncut for the first time.
The Evil Dead, a video nasty?
Between the late seventies, and the early eighties, home video exploded on to the UK market. At its height, there were more video recorders per UK head of population, than anywhere else in the world. Up until that point, the only films the public generally saw were those released in cinemas, or those shown on television. The sort of horror films that the public did see tended to be quite mild such as the Hammer Horror series.
In the UK, The British Board Of Film Censors (BBFC) classified all material shown in public cinemas, and censored where they saw fit. But at that time there was no specific legislation regulating content available on any of the home video formats, although most material generally fell under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959. Distributors considered video to be a publishing medium, and therefore not subject to the strict censorship regulations of theatrical releases. They were not legally obligated to submit video material to the BBFC, so could release virtually any film they wanted free of censorship, regardless if that same film had been cut for cinema release.
Video quickly overtook cinema as the public's main medium for film viewing, and there was a massive appetite for all sorts of dispirit material including violent horror. People were looking for something they hadn't seen before, and video distributors were only to happy to give them what they wanted. The more salacious, sexy & violent the content, the better a title sold.
Odd stories voicing disapproval at this state of affairs started appearing in the national press. The Sunday People was probably the first. In December 1981 they ran an article on the subject, and were likely the first to actually use the term 'video nasties'. On May 7 1982, The Daily Star printed an article claiming that children were being exposed to 'some of the most horrific and violent films ever made.' It cited James Ferman, who was said to be furious that the video distributors had found a way to circumvent the BBFC's authority.
A few weeks later on May 23, The Sunday Times journalist Peter Chippendale wrote a long account of a video trade fair he had attended in Manchester, and the sort of violent material that was freely on offer. The article was titled 'How high street horror is invading the home'.
Odd stories voicing disapproval at this state of affairs started appearing in the national press. The Sunday People was probably the first. In December 1981 they ran an article on the subject, and were likely the first to actually use the term 'video nasties'. On May 7 1982, The Daily Star printed an article claiming that children were being exposed to 'some of the most horrific and violent films ever made.' It cited James Ferman, who was said to be furious that the video distributors had found a way to circumvent the BBFC's authority. A few weeks later on May 23, The Sunday Times journalist Peter Chippendale wrote a long account of a video trade fair he had attended in Manchester, and the sort of violent material that was freely on offer. The article was titled 'How high street horror is invading the home'.
The situation began to take root in the national media. The Daily Mail started a campaign on June 30 1983, running an article with the headline 'Rape of our children's minds' and another on July 1 1983 with 'Ban video sadism now'. This campaign allowed the media to whip up a moral panic, something that always sells more papers, and made the offending material a scapegoat for the nation's ills.
The campaign asserted concerns that there was no real effective age rating system on video, and the easy availability of videos once they entered the home would inevitably lead to under-age viewing. Parents were portrayed as innocent woolly minded individuals either having little knowledge of the material their children were watching, or simply refusing to take responsibility altogether.
The legal profession played its part it further fuelling the moral panic in the press. A number of high profile legal cases were defended on the notion that a particular violent video was responsible for a defendant's actions, therefore absolving them from any blame for the terrible crime of which they were accused, a defence judges all too often accepted. Over the next few months the press coverage became increasingly hysterical. On August 4 1983, The Daily Mail printed a piece titled 'Taken over' claiming that a child had actually been possessed by a video nasty. In the same paper a week later, Richard Neighbour claimed in an editorial 'The public has shown its preference, but in this case the public is wrong', expressing the paper's frustration with the public who were continuing to buy and rent violent videos in large numbers.
The Evil Dead was submitted to the BBFC in August 1982. BBFC director James Ferman had considered passing The Evil Dead uncut when he first saw it correctly viewing it as 'a parody of horror'. As Ferman explained; "The difficulty with The Evil Dead is that the name of the game is excess in the first place. To cut something that's meant to be over the top, so that it's no longer too far over the top, is very difficult." Across the members, Reaction within the Board was divided between those who felt the film was so ridiculously 'over the top' that it could not be taken seriously and those who found it 'nauseating'. Realising that there was likely to be an equal division of opinion amongst cinema audiences, James Ferman felt that the best course of action would be to tone down the most excessive moments of violence and gore. It was hoped that cuts could retain the film's humour whilst neutering the most graphic violence. In total 49 seconds of footage was removed, taken from several scenes, before an 'X' certificate was awarded in October 1982. This same censored version was released theatrically and on VHS & Betamax video tape on February 24 1983.
Without recognisable titles, or major Hollywood stars, VHS covers & advertising became increasingly salacious to attract consumers. Vipco, the UK distributors of Driller Killer, took out a full page adverts in a number of specialist video magazines, featuring the video's explicitly violent cover. Go Video, the distributors of Cannibal Holocaust & SS Experiment Camp similarly did the same. These adverts resulted in a large number of complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency, who found against both companies, but singled SS Experiment Camp as being particularly objectionable, although it's worth noting that the ad as ran was still toned down, underwear had been painted on the formerly naked woman. A few months later, Go Video tried a publicity stunt that ultimately backfired; they wrote anonymously to Mary Whitehouse of 'The National Viewers and Listeners Association' complaining about their own film.
'The National Viewers and Listeners Association' was a UK pressure group founded in 1963 by Mary Whitehouse, which by 1980 had 30,000 members. It tirelessly campaigned against the publication and broadcast of media content that in its opinion was harmful or offensive, such as violence, profanity, sex and blasphemy, and had vowed to clean up television. Mary started a crusade against violent videos with many high profile TV & print interviews. She regarded this cause as a battle for the quality of the nation's culture. The right of consenting law abiding adults to choose their own entertainment was of little consequence, when the sanctity & morality of the nation's children was at risk.
Late in 1983, Mary Whitehouse screened excerpts from The Evil Dead along with a number of other video nasties to a large number of MPs at the House of Commons, in an effort to lobby Margaret Thatcher's government to introduce legislation to reign in the home video industry. She branded The Evil Dead as the 'number one video nasty', although admitted never having seen it, or many of the other titles she was campaigning against.
The police felt driven to act on the situation, but they had no clear legislation guiding them. Under the terms of the 1959 Obscene Publications Act, they were able to seize any material if in their own opinion the material was in breach of that act. The act stated that something could be declared obscene, if it had a tenancy to deprave and corrupt a significant proportion of its intended audience. The head of the obscene publications unit, Peter Kruger, received authority from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to apply of a warrant under the act. This gave police the power to confiscate & destroy any videos they thought fell foul of the act and prosecute the anyone involved in the supply chain.
The police began a series of raids on video retailers across the country, but with over 15,000 video shops in England alone at that point, and no clear cut definition of what they were supposed to be looking for, they had little hope of forcing any really significant change in the industry. Enforcement under the OPA seemed to be ad-hoc, and the interpretation of 'obscenity' was down each individual Chief Constable. The police raids worked their way up the supply chain to wholesalers and the distributors which included some big names at the time such as Thorn EMI and Intervision. Palace Video was also raided at their headquarters above the Scala cinema, even though The Evil Dead had already been passed & certified by the BBFC for theatrical distribution. Acting on a last-minute tip-off, the manager of Palace's marketing, Irwing Rappaport, brother of actor David Rappaport, had every copy of The Evil Dead removed and hidden in a local church. Enraged when they came up empty handed during the initial raid on the Scala, the forces of law and order then descended on the main warehouse from which they removed the film's master tapes and a case against it was prepared by the DPP.
The maximum sentence if found guilty under Section 2 of the act was up to a £20,000 fine and up to 2 years in prison, although a conviction under Section 3 resulted in lesser penalties. Many small video shop owners were nervous and frightened in the court cases which followed police raids; they didn't defend the charges against them and made easy targets, with a number of defendants being fined and even cases of people being sent to prison. The Evil Dead became caught up in this controversy. Palace lost a couple of smaller obscenity trials around the country as they weren't able to put together a legal team and mount a defence fast enough.
A total of 39 notorious titles were successfully prosecuted over the period, such as The Driller Killer, Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit On Your Grave & Nightmare in a Damaged Brain, along with The Evil Dead. One such trial was held in May 1984, when Leeds Crown Court found Barker's Video Tape Centre not guilty of obscenity infringements relating specifically to The Evil Dead. Following this trial on May 25, R. Duncan and R. Price, solicitors for Palace, wrote to the DPP asking that, in the light of that recent acquittal, all remaining charges against The Evil Dead be dropped. Replying on June 1, they refused to drop any pending charges, and would continue with further prosecutions.
These trials only added to the confusion for video industry. As obscenity was an objective measure, a particular title could be found guilty in one court, and innocent in another. The Video Retailers Association tried to clarify the situation for their members as they had little idea exactly which of the titles would be liable to be prosecuted.
The association asked the DPP for a list of films liable to be confiscated. This list was released in June 1983, and appeared in The Daily Mail campaign article of June 30 1983, previously mentioned. That article listed the 52 films officially named by the DPP, and The Evil Dead was among them. This became known as the DPP video nasties list, which was modified monthly as prosecutions failed or were dropped. It contained as many as 79 separate titles at one point, but had settled on 39 by December 1985.
Palace Pictures went to Snaresbrook Crown Court in East London for an obscenity test case on July 25, 1984. Just to explain a point of English law, the outcome of a normal court case would only apply to those defendants involved in the trial, and would have no wider significance to other cases. This means that new obscenity cases could be bought against The Evil Dead repeatedly on an ad-hoc basis regardless of the findings of previous hearings even in the same courtroom. A 'test case' can be brought, the outcome of which would set a precedent applying to the whole country effectively ending any further legal action, although the stakes for this are far higher should the verdict go the wrong way.
The case was spread over four months with various court dates. Sam Raimi flew all the way over to testify on behalf of the film, but the judge asserted that the intention of the film-maker was not in question, so Sam went all the way back. Nik Powell put himself on the line by testifying for the film, and a screening was arranged for the judge & jury. Having seen it, the judge stated that he didn't regard the film as obscene and there was no case to answer. With that, the case was unequivocally dismissed on November 7 1984.
Following the verdict the presiding judge, Owen Stable, was quite scathing in his criticism of the DPP and it's persistence in bringing charges against the film in the face of repeated not guilty verdicts at jury level, asserting that the proceedings should never have started, and such frivolous prosecutions brought the legal profession into disrepute. He referred to the film’s highly successful theatrical run at 193 cinemas nationwide and also to the fact that some 40 cases had been tried against The Evil Dead with a full defence involved, resulting in only two convictions. In particular, he also referred back to the Leeds trail back in May 1984, and the letter sent by Palace's solicitors asking for all outstanding cases to be dropped and referred to the DPP’s negative reply as 'inflexible and bureaucratic'. Judge Stable then took the unprecedented step of awarding all the defendant’s costs, expected to exceed £20,000, against the DPP. This prompted a furious statement from David Mellor, the Minister of State responsible for criminal justice policy at the Home Office; "That was an astonishing decision, but the jury acquitted it not because of an inadequacy in the law but because they used their judgement and arrived at a conclusion that may have seemed regrettable."
Nik Powell received a letter on August 22 1985 from New Scotland Yard informing him that The Evil Dead would be pulled off the DPP video nasties list that September. Accompanying the letter was a copy of a directive sent out to Chief Constables from the Director of Public Prosecutions instructing them that any cases pending against The Evil Dead should be dropped. The Evil Dead was duly removed from the video nasties list by the DPP that September.
The video industry was keen to clean up its image, so with the blessing of the government who didn't want to be seen to be associated with statutory censorship, the British Video Association (BVA) in conjunction with the BBFC set about establishing a definitive system of self regulation.
Superintendent Peter Kruger; the head of the obscene publications unit, produced a video containing edited clips from a number of 'video nasties' including; The Driller Killer, Snuff, I Spit On Your Grave & Faces Of Death. He showed the tape in the House Of Commons and House Of Lords who were all duly horrified at what they saw. With a June general election looming and sustained media pressure, the Conservative government felt obliged to abandon it's support for industry self regulation, and take decisive action. They made an election promise to their voters to 'respond to the increasing public concern over obscenity and offences against public decency, which often have links with serious crime.', proposing to introduce legislation to resolve the situation.
The National Viewers' and Listeners Association found a sympathetic ear in the form of Conservative candidate for Luton South, Graham Bright. He promised publicly to introduce a bill if elected, which he was. He introduced a Private Member's Bill to the House of Commons on November 3 1983, although it was common knowledge that he was merely a puppet of the Home Secretary, Leon Brittan & the Home Office who drafted the bill behind the scenes, and were using Graham as a means to get their bill on to the statute books.
'The Parliamentary Group Video Inquiry' headed by sociology lecturer Dr Clifford Hill, was set up to look at the situation and research the viewing habits of the nations children. The inquiry found that more than one in three children under the age of seven had seen one of the listed video nasties, although upon closer scrutiny the inquiry's methods of investigation were found to be somewhat suspect which likely led to them grossly overestimating the numbers involved. A number of people spoke out about the inquiry, but by this point the momentum was firmly behind Graham Bright's bill. The Prime Minister & the government lent its support behind the scenes, and Conservative MPs were left in no doubt that they were to turn out and vote in favour.
With virtually no MP willing to stand up and defend the video nasties so universally condemned, the commons passed the bill without a single dissenting vote, as the Video Recordings Act (VRA) in 1984, which became law on September 1 1985. This new law meant that all video releases after September 1 had to comply with the Act and be submitted for classification by the BBFC, bringing the home video market into line with cinema censorship. Titles released prior to the act had to be withdrawn from sale and submitted to the BBFC within three years. It became a criminal offence to supply any tape without a BBFC certificate, although it was still perfectly legal to own them. In addition, supplying 15 or 18 certificated videos to people of a younger age was also made an offence. To combat the assertion of the accessibility of video to children while in the home, the act required that video classification be a separate process from cinema classification, so films that had passed uncut for cinema release were often cut for video, and films already cut were often cut further. As the certification process could be quite expensive, many distributors simply withdrew films unlikely to be passed. Other notable horror titles were submitted, resulting in heavy cuts, or even outright rejection in some cases. With the new VRA, The DPP video nasties list became obsolete, as any tape without a certificate became illegal to sell regardless of its content.
The Evil Dead's test case dismissal non-withstanding, the VRA meant the film still had to be passed by the BBFC before it could be legally sold in stores again. However, because film had received a number of convictions in regional courts, the BBFC was reluctant to pass the film on video at all. Of greatest concern was that regardless of the test case verdict, the film had nonetheless been found obscene by other courts around the country. Under the terms of the VRA, the BBFC effectively required the board to guarantee that no court could sustain an obscenity prosecution against a certificated title. Furthermore, given the stricter tests imposed on the Board by the VRA, which required that the Board should consider the suitability of a video for 'viewing in the home', there was concern about whether the film as it stood would be acceptable under the new act. Because the expressed purpose of the VRA was to remove 'video nasties' from the shelves, it might seem indefensible at this stage to approve for video release what Mary Whitehouse had called the 'number one nasty'.
Although Palace Pictures survived through this tough period, the VRA wiped out many of the smaller independent distributors. Every distributor had to pay the same certification fees to the BBFC, many of which could ill afford the cost, and had back catalogues consisting largely of violent horror unlikely to be passed by the BBFC in any case.
The Evil Dead was put to one side until 1989 by which time the initial furore about the film, and 'video nasties' in general had largely died away. Given the notoriety of the film, and the fact that it was the BBFC censored version that had been subject to prosecutions, it was decided that further cuts would be required before issuing a certificate for video release. The Board's lawyers advised that one or two minor cuts would be insufficient, since the BBFC needed to arrive at a noticeably different version of the film to avoid classifying something that had been found obscene. In many cases, scenes that had already been subject to cuts for cinema release were simply subjected to slightly deeper cuts. However, some scenes that had previously been approved intact for cinema release were now also reduced. The board finally passed it with a total 1 minute 6 seconds cuts over and above the 49 seconds censored for the original theatrical release. This reduced version was then agreed by the Board's lawyers to comprise a 'significantly different' version to the one that had been prosecuted, and was classified as an '18' certificate in on March 15 1990. The VHS release followed on May 21 1990.
Speaking around the time of the 1990 re-submission, Sam expressed his dismay at the ongoing massacring of his film; "I think it's completely unacceptable that the Government determines what people can see," he stated, "But the real problem is not with The Evil Dead – the problem is that, once people allow the censors to determine what's right or wrong for them, then who's to say that a politically disturbing picture, one that differs from the view of the censors politically, shouldn't be censored? The people of Britain shouldn't allow them that power, because they'll soon find out that other rights are being taken from them one by one, until they have no right to speak out at all."
The moral fervour finally passed, although it was whipped back by the media up with fair regularity every few years after this, usually due to a specific high profile crime incident such as a murder. Newspapers have learned that violent videos, music and computer games give the public simple and easily understandable scapegoats.
The Hungerford massacre happened in Hungerford, Berkshire, England, in August 19, 1987. 27-year-old Michael Ryan shot and killed sixteen people including his mother, and wounded fifteen others, before committing suicide. It remains one of the worst criminal atrocities involving firearms in British history. Ryan was likened to Rambo in the popular press and links were drawn to the film First Blood. The truth is rather different. It is simply not known whether Michael ever actually saw the film, or any other Sylvester Stallone films. Although his house was destroyed by a fire, there was no evidence found that he even owned a VCR and certainly none that he rented videos.
The abduction & murder of James Bulger in Liverpool, England, by two 10-year-old boys, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson on February 12, 1993, was another such event. The sentencing judge, Michael Morland, said "I suspect that exposure to violent video films may, in part, be an explanation". This came as a complete surprise to many in the video industry as no such assertion as no such made by either the defence or the prosecution during the trial. The link with violent videos came when it was revealed Jon Venables' father had rented a number of films including Child's Play 3 some months earlier. The fact that Jon was not living with his father at the time, so was unlikely to have seen the film, and psychiatric reports confirmed the boys' dislike of horror films, seemed to matter little to the media. Newspapers seized upon the title, although they likely ran with the link simply because of its name.
The campaign ran for a number of months, throughout the trial and a while after both boys had been sentenced. Once it became obvious that there was absolutely no prospect in a change of the law, the story had no where else to go and it was quietly dropped. As a bizarre end to the saga, the Daily Mirror newspaper ran a front page story proclaiming that Child's Play 3 had been banned 'entirely thanks to their campaign', although this was a complete lie. At no time has the film been banned in the UK, and was even passed completely uncut by the BBFC when released in 1992.
A footnote is worth adding for any non-UK readers; some British newspapers have a tendency to print articles they know are either grossly exaggerated or completely fabricated, if they're on subject they can get away with by branding any dissenting voices as 'fighting for the forces of evil' in some capacity, or they know UK popular opinion will either be completely uneducated on the matter or be heavily on one side rather than the other. A moral campaign is one of those subjects.
On February 15, 1988, the BBC broadcast an episode of their current affairs programme Panorama entitled 'Violence on Television', which investigated the evidence for links between violent videos and crime. The show examined eight cases where a clear link had been claimed in the media. Not one of the cases stood up to even cursory examination. James Ferman, Director of the BBFC concluded 25 years of inquiries into copycat violence with the comment: "I do not know of particular cases where somebody has imitated a video and gone out and actually committed a serious crime as a result of what they have seen".
The BBFC have relaxed their guidelines step by step since the VRA was introduced, with many high profile titles now having been passed uncensored, without the public outcry of the early 1980's. Now in 2009, many of the original titles on the DPP video nasties list have been released; 38 have been released uncut, 24 have been released cut, 1 has been released with additional footage, 10 are unavailable for sale as they've not been resubmitted for classification, and 1 has been rejected for classification. Most that have been released on are rated '18'.
Under the new leadership of Andreas Whittam Smith, the BBFC held a number of public consultations around the country early in 2000, and was left with the feeling that the Board should only really intervene when material was illegal or harmful. They unveiled their newly liberalised classification guidelines in September 2000. Even so, the UK's state censorship still remains the strictest in the western world.
FilmFour's Adam Roberts promptly submitted an uncut American print of The Evil Dead for VRA classification, to see whether anything really had changed. In March 2001, The Board recognised that standards had relaxed somewhat since 1990 (and certainly since 1982) and modern audiences were more accustomed to the excesses of horror films. Compared to other films passed in the recent period prior to this such as Scream, The Evil Dead now looked rather tame in comparison. The Board therefore agreed that The Evil Dead could be classified '18' without cuts. An uncut DVD & VHS tape were released on September 3 2001, and just a few months later The Evil Dead made its uncut début on British television as part of FilmFour's Extreme Cinema season at 11pm on Saturday November 25, 2001.
The Evil Dead, a timeline
This is a condensed timeline covering the life of The Evil Dead on home video & DVD in the UK. Drawn from the article above, it only covers events directly related to the film. Some dates are partially unknown, but details are given where possible.
Palace Pictures submits The Evil Dead to the BBFC for certification.
The BBFC awards The Evil Dead an 'X' certificate, having censored it by 49 seconds.
February 24 1983:
Palace Pictures simultaneously releases the film in London cinemas and nationwide on VHS & Betamax video.
June 30 1983:
An article in The Daily Mail lists the 52 films officially labelled as 'video nasties' by the DPP, The Evil Dead is among them.
Mary Whitehouse screens excerpts from The Evil Dead along with a number of other video nasties to a large number of MPs at the House of Commons.
Palace Video is raided at their headquarters above the Scala cinema, but thanks to a tip-off, the police come up empty handed. They also raid their main warehouse confiscating The Evil Dead's master tapes.
January 7 1984:
The owner of the Cambridge Video Club is tried at Peterborough Crown Court on charges under the Obscene Publications Act Section 2. He's cleared on The Evil Dead but found guilty on The Burning.
January 16 1984:
MCD Video Play is tried but acquitted from all charges.
January 31 1984:
Nik Powell, head of Palace Pictures, writes to the Association of Chief Police Officers explaining that Palace had received no complaints from the public over The Evil Dead.
May 12 1984:
The film is shown at the Scala cinema, London as part of the 'Revenge of the Bright Bill' horror festival.
Leeds Crown Court finds Barker's Video Tape Centre not guilty of obscenity infringements relating to The Evil Dead.
May 25 1984:
R. Duncan & R. Price, solicitors for Palace Pictures, write to the DPP asking that, in the light of the recent Leeds trial acquittal, all remaining charges against The Evil Dead be dropped.
June 1 1984:
The DPP replies to Palace's lawyers, refusing to drop further charges against the film.
July 25 1984:
Legal proceedings against Palace Pictures start at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
November 7 1984:
The case against Palace Pictures is unequivocally dismissed.
The Evil Dead is found not guilt of obscenity at Lewes Crown Court, Sussex.
September 1 1985:
Following the VRA, the film is withdrawn from sale. The BBFC refuses to pass the film.
March 15 1990:
Palace re-submits the film and its rated '18' by the BBFC for video distribution, with 1 minute 6 seconds of cuts over and above the 49 seconds censored for the theatrical release.
May 21 1990:
Palace Video re-releases the film on VHS video.
March 2 2001:
FilmFour's Adam Roberts submits an uncut print of The Evil Dead which is passed & rated '18' by the BBFC for home entertainment.
September 3 2001:
Anchor Bay releases an uncut DVD & VHS.
November 25 2001:
The Evil Dead is shown uncut for the first time on British television as part of FilmFour's Extreme Cinema season.
Video Nasties Newspaper Story Scans (1980-1995)
This is the 'Video Nasties Newspaper Story Scans (1980-1995)' project, which was designed to be a free comprehensive resource for researchers, writers and other webmasters like myself.
The Daily Mail (July 1, 1983)
The Daily Express (November 24, 1983)
The Sun (November 26, 1993)
I spent a total of six days in 2012, at the British Library Newspapers building in North London, going through their archive of UK newspapers and printing off Video Nasty & censorship related material. My original intention was to collect together a few of the most famous headlines just for my own research, but over those six days I got though one-hundred-and-sixty-nine microfilm reels, printing off a total of 336 pages, and I've made my scans freely available to everyone. You can read more about this project, and download the scans themselves on the Video Nasties page within the Features section
The Daily Mail (July 15, 1983)
The Sun (May 1, 1990)
The Mirror (April 13, 1994)
If you want to find out more more about british censorship and the UK video nasty period, then there are a number of sources I would highly recommend. Of these four books, I would primarily recommend getting See No Evil by David Kerekes & David Slater, although the others are fine books too.
There have also been a number of excellent documentaries over the years specifically about, or covering, UK censorship, horror and the video nasties saga. Unfortunately, most have only ever been broadcast on UK TV, but there are only a couple which have been officially released on DVD.
The remaining documentaries have only ever been shown on TV, but may be available as bootlegs of you hunt them out. Other than the above listed, there are a number of others including Children Of The Video (1995), The Very Worst... Gore Movies (2004), and Banned In The UK, parts 1-4 (2005)