When anyone mentions the term "video nasty", there are certain movies that come to mind and Evil Dead is always sitting right there near the top of the list. However, it seems that Bruce Campbell hasn't quite gotten over the banning of the movie by the British Board of Film Classification back in 1982 as he used their recent tweet about the movie to air his annoyance at their decision almost forty years ago, which he called "draconian."
The explosion in excessively gory and violent horror movies in the late 70s and early 80s, from creature features to slasher movies all pushing the boundaries of sex, blood and disturbing images, saw some countries taking a hard view on allowing their residents to see these movies in the form that their makers intended. In America, the Friday 13th franchise was just one of the properties feeling the brunt of the Motion Picture Association of America, who weren't particularly on board all the eye-gouging and knife-slashing going on and demanded multiple cuts to allow movies to be seen in cinemas. The BBFC on the other hand were happy to make cuts, but even happier to completely ban some movies from even being owned within the UK.
One movie to receive such a ban was The Evil Dead. While the movie had made it into cinemas and onto home video prior to the ban, as the BBFC said in a tweet, "In 1982, we saw Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead for classification in the height of the 'video nasties' scare of the 1980s. It's had an interesting classification history since then, but it's now classified 18 uncut." While the movie was granted an X certificate for its cinema release, albeit with 49 seconds of cuts, it's addition to the "video nasties" list saw VHS versions of the film removed from shelves and shop owners prosecuted for supplying "obscene" material.
While the Video Recordings Act arrived in 1984, which required all home video releases to have the same kind of BBFC classification as cinema releases, due to The Evil Dead being called "the number one nasty" by Mary Whitehouse, the biggest vocal oppose to such movies, it was not until 1989 that The Evil Dead was resubmitted for a rating, with even more cuts being applied. It was not until 2001 that the movie was finally released on home video in its original uncut glory.
Bruce Campbell clearly hasn't quite forgiven the heavy handed approach to the movie that made his name, as he responded to the tweet with a brutal retort.
"Let's be clear. Your system back then was draconian and myopic. Thankfully, your multi-year "ban" only stoked interest in the film and made it #1 on video in the UK when it was finally released. Thanks for nothin.'"
It is true that like many movies banned during that period The Evil Dead probably ended up becoming more popular because of the BBFC reaction, and when compared to many of the movies and TV shows being made today is a pretty tame affair. In the long term, the BBFC ban and cuts have certainly not hurt the legacy of the Evil Dead, Campbell or director Sam Raimi, but from Campbell's comments it shows that the cuts made to the movie went deep with those involved in production that are still showing scars after all this time.