In the early ’80s, with the advent of the VHS invasion, there was a boom in straight-to-video low-budget horror films getting produced but no form of censorship was in place to control this new media. The only films being censored at that time were those screening in cinemas so it wasn’t long before this new, unregulated rental market triggered an outburst of moral panic as people believed the so-called “video nasties” would corrupt people’s impressionable minds and spawn the next generation of murderers and rapists.
Having grown up on a healthy diet of ’80s horror movies, writer and director Prano Bailey-Bond found fascination in the aforementioned social and political aspects that plagued violent and graphic productions in that particular era. And, on exploring her curiosities surrounding the responsibilities that film censors’ were suddenly burdened with in the ’80s – having to be both objective and subjective in their roles all at once – the filmmaker felt compelled to convey her findings in the form of her very own horror film, CENSOR.
Penned by Bailey Bond and Anthony Fletcher, the film stars Niamh Algar as Enid, a fastidious film censor who takes pride in her duty to protect unsuspecting audiences from the deleterious effects of watching the mutilations, cannibalism, gang rapes, gore-filled decapitations and eye-gougings she pores over.
Her scrupulousness is amplified by the guilt she feels for being unable to recall details of the long-ago disappearance of her sister, recently declared dead in absentia. But, when Enid is assigned to review a disturbing film from the archive that shares mysterious parallels with her clouded childhood memories, she begins to unravel how this eerie piece of work might be tied to her past.
As CENSOR releases in US theatres via Magnet Releasing this June 11th, 2021 and On Demand from June 18th, 2021, SCREAM sat down with Bailey-Bond and Algar to discuss the VHS generation’s unique sensation of foraging in the forbidden and how violence on film has unfortunately been far too often used as an easy scapegoat for political shortcomings.
Words: Howard Gorman