X is for X-Rated
While in the UK, the X-rating could only be awarded by the BBFC, and prevented anyone under the age of 18 from seeing the film*, in the US the X-rating was non-copyrighted. The MPAA could force a film to carry an 18-rating, but filmmakers could claim – and label – their films X long before any official classification. This lead to it becoming a badge of honour for porn films, the makers of which even created XX and XXX ratings to boast how hardcore they were being. By 1981, when the original The Evil Dead was released, cinemas in the US were reluctant to book X-films because the public immediately assumed they must be porn films.
However, if the X-rating harmed The Evil Dead ’s cinema box office at all, it positively fuelled its sales on burgeoning home video market, becoming one of the bestselling VHS titles of 1982. In the UK, films released in the UK on home video didn’t require a classification from the BBFC until 1984, meaning that many children were legally buying The Evil Dead (and I Spit On Your Grave , and Cannibal Apocalypse ) to watch at home in the early ’80s.
• See previous entries in the A to Z of Evil Dead
Evil Dead , the new terrifying new version of the horror classic, hits UK cinemas on 18 April . It stars Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas and is directed by Fede Alvarez.
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