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Jailed for a 'video nasty'

Hello there <<First Name (optional)>>!

Let's start the May edition of my newsletter with a terrible event you may never have heard of, even though it happened almost four decades ago. 

In early 1984, a filmmaker and video distributor was sent to prison for handling a horror movie.

Seems almost impossible now, doesn't it? But then, the early 80s were a very weird time indeed for censorship and prosecution. 

This was the so-called 'video nasties' period. VHS and Betamax had arrived in the UK, with people able to rent movies on cassette to watch in the luxury of their own home. What a revelation! The only problem, from the establishment's point of view, was that no regulation was being applied to the home video industry whatsoever. And so the shelves of Britain's rental shops heaved with lurid cover artwork and titles like Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit On Your Grave and Driller Killer, whose extraordinary cover was a close-up photo of a screaming man with a drill bit boring into his forehead. 

Eternal (im)moral guardians The Daily Mail spearheaded an attack on the whole situation, running front cover headlines like Taken Over By Something Evil From The TV Set and Ban Video Sadism Now. Shamed into action, the government launched into overkill mode and banned a whole bunch of films. Police literally raided video shops and confiscated tapes! 

David Hamilton-Grant suffered a fate even worse than having tapes of his title Nightmares In A Damaged Brain whisked away by police - he himself was taken away to court and sentenced to six months in prison. The specific offence was being in "possession of over 200 copies of an obscene article for publication for gain" and he was found guilty under section two of the obscene publications act. Hamilton-Grant's distribution company World Of Video 2000 subsequently went into liquidation. 

These days, you can buy Nightmares In A Damaged Brain on Blu-ray, probably uncut. It's a gory film for sure, but was never worth anyone going to prison for. While censorship is undoubtedly less hysterical today, it should be noted that the BBFC (British Board Of Film Classification) still regularly ban movies, by refusing to grant them a certificate for the UK. So it's still well worth keeping an eye on such worrying behaviour. 

For a full overview of the whole video nasties era, you'll want to read my book Taken Over By Something Evil From The TV Set: The History Of Britain's Video Nasties Controversy, This 7000-word essay comes bundled with FOUR bonus horror articles and interviews of mine - and you can pay whatever you want for the whole lot, from one dollar and up! 

Check out my Horror Non-Fiction Bundle here. The payment process is handled by the super-secure Stripe. If you live outside the US, you'll need to replace the default country code on the checkout form with your own. Once you've paid, the books will automatically come to you in a downloadable zippered folder which will even open on your phone. Let me know how you enjoy the books! 
Here are brief details of the bundle's BONUS content:

9000 words, delivered as a PDF
In-person and in-depth, these 2005 conversations with Dawn Of The Dead and Friday The 13th FX legend Tom Savini were originally for Bizarre magazine and my long-gone horror website Slasherama. Savini speaks frankly about his time as a combat photographer during the Vietnam war, plus the movies he regrets getting involved with.

1900 words, PDF
Admittedly, this never-before-seen essay is probably not all THAT critical, given that The Thing happens to be my joint favourite horror movie alongside The Evil Dead! Still, it's full of thoughts, observations and questions about Carpenter's 1982 masterpiece. I wrote it for an anthology that never happened, and have tweaked it here and there for its 2022 debut.

2300 words, PDF
This 2003 in-person interview with metal maestro turned movie maverick Rob Zombie was conducted for my old website Slasherama. It took place after Rob's debut House Of 1000 Corpses had been released, but before 2005's The Devil's Rejects had even been named.

2000 words, PDF
My 2005 chat with Friday The 13th director and producer Sean S Cunningham happened in an impromptu fashion, at a Friday The 13th 25th Anniversary event at the Screamfest event in Los Angeles! He's quite a laugh, is Sean. Enjoy!


A Sincere Warning, ten years on!

Just as with my novella Beast In The Basement, which I quacked about last issue, I find it hard to believe that 2022 marks 10 years since I wrote and released A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home

Buoyed by having published Beast In The Basement to Kindle so easily, I wrote A Sincere Warning... in quite the burst of giddy, driven enthusiasm. 

I must admit, this one feels like one of my more innovative efforts, being a short ghost story which is set in the home of whoever reads it.

The story also takes the form of a letter written by the previous occupier of your home, who wants to warn you about - you guessed it - the entity that remains within its walls.

The chief logistical knock-on effect of this story being set in the reader's home was that I had to describe the place in very simple terms. I had to figure out what pretty much every home had. A sofa, a sink, a bed, a front door. Beyond that, I couldn't presume anything, or else the spell would have been broken.

Prose fiction is an act of joint imagination, with the reader filling in so many gaps left open by the writer. And I loved the idea that, when I wrote, say, "your bed" in this story, the reader would literally imagine their own bed. This wouldn't work in any other medium, except for audio - and even then, the letter-writing aspect would feel less real. I suppose that, if I ever make an audio version, the letter could instead be an old school cassette tape left on the reader's doorstep. Reply to this email and let me know if you'd like to see an audiobook edition! Or indeed a physical book...

Speaking of physical editions, I created a Bespoke Deluxe version of A Sincere Warning... and have sold many of those over the last ten years. The Bespoke Deluxe is a physical printed letter, complete with personalised details about the reader, such as their name, address and neighbourhood, thereby making the whole experience feel even more real! These days, I have less time to create these, but always enjoy making them when I do. They are mostly purchased by people as gifts for friends and loved ones! Check out my Scary Letter mini-site here for more details on those.

Fun fact: A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home is my only book whose cover I designed myself. I literally cut up a newspaper and stuck individual letters onto an envelope, to create that ransom note style. Then I showed my author friend John Higgs, who helpfully added a little dirt and grime to the design, having rightly believed it to look a little too clean.

I'm grateful to everyone who has had the wits scared out of them by A Sincere Warning...! Here's to another 10 years of this story making people afraid in their own homes!

If you haven't had the pleasure yet, here's the A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home page on my site, with buying links and all sorts. 

Dear writer: stop being your own gatekeeper!

There is always a lot of talk among writers of "gatekeepers" - people who have the power to stop your career in its tracks, or at least slow your progress.

Most of the time, we actually need these gatekeepers... but that's for another post, another time.

No, this piece is about how the biggest and baddest gatekeeper a writer ever meets can often be themselves. (Side note: I totally had to Google, there, to check whether the word 'themselves' or 'themself' was correct! Turns out they both work, but 'themselves' is the most common.)

If you've ever fretted over whether you're a 'proper' writer - or even worse, a writer full-stop - then you'll be feeling a twinge of recognition right now.

I mean, I do understand the rationale. When you add words like 'aspiring' or 'wannabe' before the word 'writer' in your social bio, it might feel like you're presenting yourself as someone with humility or modesty.

In some ways, that's no bad thing, because humility and modesty are great qualities for a writer to have.

But also, perception matters.

There's no need to make potential book buyers, or even potential Instagram followers, perceive you as anything other than a writer who may be about to rock their world.

There's no need to prompt a book or script editor to mentally file you away as someone who they should maybe check out in a few years, when you could well be producing awesome stories right now

There is only ONE circumstance in which you're allowed to call yourself 'aspiring', and that's if you haven't written one single creative word in weeks, months or years, with no good reason.

Yes, if you've only talked about writing, instead of doing any actual writing, then you really are an aspiring or wannabe writer. 

Barring that, there is only one rule:

If you write, you're a writer.

That is all. 

See the picture of the mug that kicked off this article? This mug actually exists and you can buy it.

I designed this handsome artefact to sit on your desk 24/7 and remind you that you are a writer. 

A couple of weeks back, I started an Etsy store called Great Writing Tools. At the time of writing, the items on display may be limited in number, but I'm very happy with each of them. 

You'll find two different mug slogans (and various mug colours/styles), my Story Planner Worksheets for writers and my journalism e-book How To Interview Doctor Who, Ozzy Osbourne And Everyone Else.

Go take a look! Hit the heart symbols to 'favourite' anything you like the look of - even the store itself - in order to receive notifications of all the products for writers I plan to make available in future.

I'd love to hear what you'd like to see in my Great Writing Tools Etsy shop. Reply directly to this email and let me know!

Only five days left! 😲

Last month, I broke the news of my exciting special offer for new Patreon supporters - the chance to receive one unique paper proof page from the edit cycle of my novel The Last Days Of Jack Sparks - complete with my original red-pen edits!

Goes without saying that each of these items is a one-of-a-kind item and will be a really cool thing to fold in half and tuck inside your copy of the novel. 

Well, if you'd like one of these proof pages, then the window of opportunity has narrowed.

The deadline is midday BST on Thursday May 5!

Everyone who is supporting me at Patreon at the Oh Dear God, What's That At The Window? tier or above, at that time, on that day, will then receive their proof page through the mail during May. Hopefully by June, depending on where you are in the world and how well-behaved the postal system is being.

As I said last time, I'll get 'Jack Sparks' to sign the back of the page too. :)

Check out the dying days of this special offer at Patreon right here.

On the page I just linked to, you'll also see the other perks you'll receive when you sign up. These include:
  • A personal thank you video from me and sent to you as an unlisted YouTube video, for your eyes only!
  • A thank you postcard, 12 months after you sign up
  • Getting an onscreen thanks in future videos on my YouTube channels Jason Arnopp's Terrifying House Of Obsession and Possessed By Metal
  • Access to the patrons-only archive, which contains exclusive video content, exclusive PDFs and my rare short story The Nothing Men
  • Instant access to the community feed, full of lovely people!
  • Oh, and some of these lovely people also get thanked by name in my newsletter! So let's deliver that perk right now...
A HUGE THANKS TO: Francine Hibiscus, Christine Blake, Sarah Beauchemin, Matthew Hine, John Matthews, Cindy Leschaud, Lisa Golmen, Barry Pook, Peter Munro, Harry Palmer, Kathy Lanzarotti, Kristy Ryan, Paul Walker, Shel Hodges, Sara Karle, Tiffany Sullivan, Jason Fisher, Jessica Ault, Jane Louise Atkinson, Jay Lyons, Carrie Durkee, Charlotte Cowles, Jay Lyons, Cruiser Jolly. James Phillips, Dave Morris & Leo Hartas, Stephen McMullin, Marissa Adams, Vicky Brewster, Cliff Shelton, Matt Ebbs, Helen Thompson, Sheena Perez, Mark Osborn, Marjorie Taylor, Chris Limb, Rhiannon Marshall, Scott Forte, Mark Garcia, Jay Gent, Frank Smith, Theresa Derwin, Craig Tucker, Jonathan Hedley, Ian Butler and Angel Dey!

Join these amazing people, and more, at Patreon! I can assure you that when I receive the notification that you've signed up, I will experience a blast of surprised merriment! 

Just make sure you join us by midday BST on Thursday May 5, to secure that Jack Sparks proof page. 

Ask me anything for a future newsletter!

Thanks so much for reading this far! I really appreciate you hanging around as a subscriber, and I will do my best to inform and entertain you every month.

Next time, I'll write about another of my short-form books.

Auto Rewind, perhaps.

Feel free to reply to this email and ask me a question that I may answer in a future edition of this newsletter.

Preface your question with Q FOR NEWSLETTER, to signify that you'd be happy for me to publicly answer your question in a future newsletter - and tell me if you'd rather not have your name included alongside your question, for whatever reason.

I probably won't be able to answer every question I receive, but please do ask!

Let me leave you with some links you may find entertaining and/or useful, divided into your potential interests:

FOR READERS: FOR CLASSIC DOCTOR WHO FANS: FOR METAL FANS: FOR CREATIVES: Disclosure: some of these links are affiliate links. This means that when you buy something through them, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
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Copyright © 2022 Jason Arnopp, All rights reserved.

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