When The Cure’s Robert Smith Demanded His Record Label Get Him Banned Horror Movies

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Bill Ebbesen, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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Everybody loves a bit of forbidden fruit now and again. 

When a wave of shocking films sparked a moral panic among the conservative British proletariat in the 1980s, lawmakers set about eradicating these “Video Nasties” from store shelves. The absence of regulations on new home video technology allowed virtually any movie to be released on cassette, regardless of content.

These films sidestepped BBFC regulations, as they weren’t screened in cinemas, leading to the distribution of some of the most gruesome and violent films ever made.

On top of pearl-clutching fearmongers, a cynical economic component came into play when the advent of video recorders in 1978 flooded the market with cheaply made exploitation, horror, and explicit content; leading larger companies to attempt to mitigate the impact of video recorders on cinema sales.

As the release of these disturbing movies continued, spanning from gory splatter flicks to exploitative Nazi-themed works, a law was enacted to prevent these films from falling into the wrong hands.

Citing potential breaches of the existing Obscene Publications Act, The Video Recording Act was introduced in 1984 to determine whether or not video works were suitable for a classification certificate via the BBFC.

As a result of the Video Recording Act, numerous films were banned in the United Kingdom, creating a challenge for exploitation enthusiasts to access the films they wanted to see. Among these gore-deprived Brits was The Cure frontman, Robert Smith. In 2018, Elektra Records executive Howard Thompson unearthed an old fax sent by the goth rock icon during a 1992 North American tour. Frustrated by an added tour date that disrupted his shopping plans in New York, Smith included a list of restricted titles in the document, ones he could only acquire in the United States.

Smith’s blood-drenched shopping list included heavy-hitting titles such as A Clockwork Orange, Driller Killer, I Spit on Your Grave, Last House on the Left, Bloodsucking Freaks, Filthy Rich, Faster Pussycat! Kill!… Kill! and “maybe a couple of others you could recommend in the splatter-cannibal she-devil vein.” 

Check out the fax below, as well as trailers for the movies on Robert’s list!