Tuesday, August 30, 2011

20/20 VCR Horror: How VCRs Destroyed America's Youth!

This is a 20/20 piece that aired in 1987 (or at least I believe it's from 1987) that shed much needed light on the 'VCR Horrors' that shattered the lives of children across America, turning them into sadistic serial murderers and rapists. Please, be warned, what you are about to see is filled with more vicious hyperbole than one should ever endure in one sitting.

"Graphic orgies of blood and violence!"

"It's always a female victim, and it's generally in a sexual context"

Dear god, if it wasn't for this informative news report, we all would've been screwed by this point. Imagine if 20/20 hadn't run this story, warning parents about little Suzy and Tommy attending these "gross out parties," the world would be littered with rabid males foaming at the mouth, while the female population would have drastically dropped due to a rash of rape and murder. Certainly a far cry from that cute and cuddly Frankenstein film from 1931 or that shower scene in 1960's Psycho.

It's interesting watching something like this news report, or any one of the many slanderous stories that came from the era covering similar subject matters concerning horror films and their impact on society (Siskel & Ebert or Morton Downey Jr. taking on Slasher films, for example). It brings back the frustrations of a time when censorship ran as rampant as masked serial killers, the MPAA was destroying art in the name of the lord, horror magazines were pulled from shelves to cool off some angry childless adult, and the only ones left to suffer were the fans, who wanted nothing more than to enjoy the genre we love best.

On the other hand, though, when I see a piece like this, it also reminds me of how fucking awesome the '80s were for horror fans. Never was the genre more popular than during the VHS boom, and the censorship and being all pissed off about it is something I look back on quite fondly, to be honest. The controversy surrounding a handful of horror films stirred up incredible interest in those movies for many of us, and the unattainability of certain tapes only made them more desirable. The censorship of the era gave fans something to be passionate about and, in some capacity, may have formed my youthful rebellious ways, which is something I can say is and will always be, a part of my nature.

So fuck you, 20/20. We're still here and so aren't the movies we love, and - outside of that one time behind a Cumberland Farms after buying a chilly dog and a pack of menthols - I have never attempted to rape or murder anyone.


  1. Hahaha I love the descriptions of Evil Dead 2. "The lead actor appears to be killed numerous times..."

  2. Ha, it's so funny because it's Evil Dead 2 that they're taking so seriously! I love some of the kids and what they have to say, especially the one that simply says: "I like the gore," then he just cracks a smile!

  3. "Horror movies: mutilation...decapitation...torture. Does that sound entertaining to you?" Actually, it sounds like a summary of human history thus far, Barbara, which might explain why people love horror so much.

  4. Exactly! Horrifying things have happened throughout history, things vastly worse than what we have seen in our cinema. Heck, literature and entertainment has always been filled with horrific imagery and stories. Heck heck, people used to go to public executions for fun!! It's crazy.

  5. Thanks for posting this, it was awesome and hilarious at the same time! I couldn't agree more with your assessment of this hard hitting (yeah, right) 20/20 piece. I actually started getting into horror around this time-1988 if we're getting technical-so while I was watching this I kept thinking about how the kids interviewed for this story are now adults. I wonder if they are still into horror and if they have kids of their own. If so, are they more liberal towards their children's viewing habits? I mean I remember watching stuff like Carrie and Poltergeist WITH my mom as a kid & my best friend's mom letting us rent horror movies all the time when we had sleepovers, which was often. My dad even used to tease me about watching horror movies, calling them "creature features", which I thought was hilarious and endearing of him.

    Anyway it goes back to the whole argument of whether or not violent movies, music, video games, etc. inspire or influence impressionable kids/young people into becoming murderers or rapists which is quite frankly a load of bullshit in my opinion. As horror fans we sometimes have to defend why we like the genre so much from others who don't understand the appeal of these films. It's not as if we all want to go out and commit crimes afterwards and act like psychos. No, we just want to be entertained by a FICTIONAL story that scares us, makes us think, or even makes us laugh. Not because we are heartless, desensitized bastards but because we know that it's only a movie, even the ones that are on the more "realistic" side. I think that it's stupid and unfair when the actions of a few (unbalanced, disturbed, crazy or whatever you want to call it) individuals leads to the horror community being judged as a whole. I know that I'm preaching to the choir here, but I feel that this is a debate that we will continue to be faced with whenever there is a real life tragedy--let's face it we live in a violent society--but people need to stop the blame game and take responsibility for their actions. But I guess that might be asking too much ;)

  6. I am fully with you 100%. I was exactly the same way as a kid, and I would take a guess that these kids are my age, or close to it, based off the time in which this thing aired. I watched movies like Jaws, Poltergeist and Halloween with my mom. I remember for my 13th birthday, I had a massive sleepover where I rented a handful of my favorite horror films and we all sat and watched them in between talking girls and playing with matches!

    As for horror films and music being the catalyst for horrific murders and such, that's all bullshit. Sure, there have been a few crazy people that have taken something that they've seen in a film they loved and used it to harm someone else. However, that person would have committed that crime regardless of what film may have inspired their deed. If someone is sick in the head, they are sick in the head, and you cannot blame horror films for that.


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