Being a child of the Seventies, I recall a time when horror movies were actually horrible. Heads would roll, bellies would burst and arms and legs went their own ways, even though they were happier together. Ah, happy days: The Hills Have Eyes, I Spit on Your Grave, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Cannibal Holocaust, Romero's zombie flicks. Not to mention the rise and rise of splatter as pioneered by Dick Smith (Scanners), Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London), Ron Bottin (The Howling) and Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead), men who made old gore hounds like Hershell Gordon Lewis (Two Thousand Maniacs]) seem positively vegetarian.

Funnily enough, watching such 'irredeemable' material never made me want to mug, mutilate or murder. Fantasy, no matter its pretensions to authenticity, remains fantasy. This I knew from living in Belfast. A vampire's kiss is nothing compared to the damage 5lbs of gelignite can do. Horror movies don't impact on reality; they're a refuge from reality, a chance to discharge the dark.

This is lost on moral panic-mongers, the types who originally got the 'video nasties act passed in the mid-Eighties. The fact that the level of violent crime has rocketed since (so much for cause and effect) didn't stop a recent replay of the same old 'horror corrupts scare and another level of censorship being imposed on video, this time for generic horror fare already defanged, deballed and depleted by the existing legalisation.

Just clock Needful Things (above). I could take my nieces to it and they wouldn't turn a hair. I mean, Western civilisation must be crumbling if a person can't go to the cinema and puke anymore. . .

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