Nasty visions: Violent spectacle in contemporary British horror cinema | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2040-3275
  • E-ISSN: 2040-3283


This article examines the ways in which violent international horror films of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s – the kinds of films once banned as 'video nasties' in Britain – have impacted on the creative directions of British film-makers today. Using three case studies, (2004), (2003) and (2007), I draw upon the significance that new British horror's violent spectacle may hold for the British cultural past and present, and consider how its graphic aesthetic correlates/conflicts with broader issues surrounding international horror cinema's production and reception. Acknowledging the recent American phenomenon of torture porn, I display how certain British film-makers, themselves fans of the genre, utilize their fan appreciation to recall significant international texts that have a historical weight that resonates with the social unease that followed the introduction of VHS into Thatcherite Britain. In doing so, I offer a counter-argument to those who suggest that contemporary British horror cinema's taste for violence is simply mimetic of torture porn and, and as a result, less British in its presentation.


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