Movies

A TIME BOMB of violence could explode onto Britain's streets,

detonated by children switched on by the horror, sadism and sex  in video nasties. Hundreds of thousands of children - some as young as five - have watched horrific scenes of torture, mutilation and rape on videos the law has declared obscene. And a shock report out yesterday shows that children delight in violence. They watch the "nasties" right through to prove their "toughness" and impress their friends.

Appalled researchers discovered that:

  • Video nasties have replaces party games and conjurers as entertainment at children's birthday parties
  • Teenagers are left with the family video recorder as "company" by parents who do without a babysitter
  • Children pressurise their classmates or younger brothers or sisters to watch nasties and poke fun at "scaredy-cats" who refuse

The report sponsored by MP's, peers and leading churchmen is based on questionnaires sent to 206 schools in England and Wales and interviews with more than 6,000 children, their parents and teachers.

The facts will be rushed before MPs now considering Tory MP Graham Bright's Private Member's Bill to outlaw video nasties and introduce proper classification for all videos. Although researchers say their findings are only an interim report, they disclose a picture that will stun and horrify parents all over Britain.

They say that horror films are now the favourites of children of all ages from about seven or eight upwards

Traditional comedies and adventure films come bottom of the polls even with very young children

Gory

Science fiction films are snubbed by kids who complain they are "too far-fetched and unreal." But children revel in the gory details of horror films and video nasties. They described bodies being cut up and blood being splattered all over the place. The report says working class kids are most at risk by watching the nasties. Mums and dads at work placed few restrictions on what their children watched and rarely bothered to check. But the report says middle-class kids often watch nasties on their own video recorders in their bedrooms. And teachers condemn the children's "horror grapevine" which has schoolfriends swapping stories of video violence in the playground. Even children from "protected" homes whose parents take and collect them from school cannot escape the tales of horror and violence traded in the playground.

The Researchers report the dangerous and damaging reaction many youngsters have already experienced from exposure to video violence. Boys appear keener than girls on watching nasties and many treat it as a test of manliness. But for children of both sexes and of all ages, being able to sit through the most violent and gory sequences has become a status symbol. Kids at one school who confessed they had nightmares after watching a horror film were greeted with howls of laughter and derision by other children. But many said they could not sleep at night after watching a video nasty. One little boy said his nightmares were so bad he was afraid to get out of bed to go to the toilet. Many cases of bed-wetting by grown-up children were also reported.

Research director Dr Clifford Hill warned yesterday: "Even if we ban all video nasties immediately - which is quite impossible - it may be that there has been such an exposure of children to violent scenes that it may affect there social behaviour in future years.

Diseased

Former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Coggin has joined the campaign to outlaw the video nasties. "They are the product of diseased minds," he said yesterday. "I have no doubt in my own mind that the effect of these films will be seen in coming years in an increased violence in society." Lord Coggin said many of the worst films showed sexual perversion and rape.

"A Child who sees this will be introduced to sex in the context of violence and all that is most atrocious. It is a fearful introduction."

He said video dealers who knowingly "peddled" the nasties to children were no better than drug pushers. Tory peer Lord Nugent, introducing the report, which was commissioned by the Parliamentary Action Group said result of the research next year will show the psychological effects on children. He added that the nasties were "mindless filth" and "utterly worthless." And West London Deputy headmaster, the Rev. Peter Liddlelow, who helped compile this report, said: "These films are poisoning children's minds."

Could this be your child?

These are spine-chilling comments from nine-year olds who watch the "nasties." Could this be your child talking...

"I like scaring myself and I like looking at blood. When I watch a horror film I sit and peel my cuts and sore plasters." Katie.

"I like seeing people killed. I like because its more aggro." David.

"I like seeing the faces of the characters like Frankenstein all covered in stitches. I like it 'cos you're sitting on the chair and it comes so sudden you just jump." Jocelyn.

"I liked American Werewolf in London where there's a man in hospital with three scratched across his face. In his dream he was running when he saw some lambs, picked one up, broke its head off and bit a chunk out of it." Justin.

"I like the Driller Killer where he puts a man up on sticks and he get his drill and puts it through his stomach and he screams for ages. Then he dies." Stevie.

Top Ten Shockers

The report revealed this grim "league table" of the video nasties most in demand, and the percentage of children polled who had watched them.

  1. The Bogey Man 17.7pc
  2. Zombie Flesh Eaters 15.7pc
  3. The Living Dead 14.1pc
  4. Death Trap 11.9pc
  5. The Burning 10.3pc
  6. Zombie Creeping Flesh 10.2pc
  7. Driller Killer 9.4 pc
  8. Zombie Terror 9.3 pc
  9. I Spit On Your Grave 8.3 pc
  10. Don't Go In The Woods Alone 7.9 pc
  • A total of 32 videos had been declared obscene by the Department of Public Prosecutions when the poll was taken. Just over 40 percent of kids aged five to sixteen had seen one or more.
  • An amazing 37 percent of the five to sixteen year olds' age group confessed to watching video nasties.
  • The keenest of the young fans are aged 13 to 14 in this age group, 60.2 percent of boys and 45.8 percent of girls watch video violence.
  • Britain leads the world in home videos. There are six-million video recorders. Most are owned or rented by working class families.
  • By the end of 1983, 30 percent of British homes will have these recorders. These will be watched by children from other households who report that they often see nasties at friends' houses.