How Sam Raimi took on the censors and changed horror forever
Mary Whitehouse was a British campaigner against what she saw as the growth of moral indecency in modern entertainment. She ran well-funded, very vocal and extremely hypocritical campaigns against anything she considered bad for children. This mainly meant that she got a lot of airtime to preach homophobia and lie about movies she hadn’t actually seen. She notoriously sued the creators of the play “The Romans in Britain” for gross indecency because she thought an onstage depiction of male rape was real (she hadn’t actually seen the play and, no, an actor wasn’t literally raped eight shows a week (Whitehouse lost the case and then said God would take care of his legal costs). It didn’t take long for this new era of video horror to capture his attention.
Whitehouse launched a public campaign and coined the term “nasty video” to describe films that fell under the broad umbrella of his wrath. Soon she had many powerful people on her side, from the right-wing tabloid The Daily Mail to various conservative politicians. MP Graham Bright led the charge in the UK House of Commons, saying: ‘I think there is research going on and it will show that these films not only affect young people, but I think they also affect young people. dogs.”
Soon, video sellers and casual moviegoers were prosecuted for selling or streaming tapes deemed obscene. Shops were raided, as were people’s homes. The Director of Public Prosecutions has released a list of 72 films which they claim violated the Obscene Publications Act 1959, which defined certain material as examples of unlawful obscenity. Eventually, a second list was released containing 82 additional titles that were not meant to lead to obscenity convictions but could nevertheless be confiscated under the law’s vague protocols. “The Evil Dead” was on the list.