This boys, and girls is the shit!
Never mind the videonasties… here’s the moral panic! The one show that put the Swedish video debate right up front and centre and caused a national panic unlike anything ever seen before. And this all happened before the infamous British Nasties controversy.
The programme Studio-S, a weekly debate show aired on Swedish TV, but only one single episode was so potent that it changed the country forever. At this point in time their where only two channels in Sweden. No cable, no satellite, nothing. Just Channel 1 and Channel 2. Here where voices being raised in parliament about the easy accessibility of violent and sexual deviant videos. Most of the movies seemed to be filled with sadistic death and perverted sex. Obviously something that parents wouldn’t want their kids to be watching. And things took a turn for the worse when it was noticed that some of the titles on display in the video stores had previously been banned theatrically in Sweden. Remember this is the country that has the oldest ever board of censors!
So being the only forum to discuss the growing problem, national television got in on the game. They sent out a meaty press release proclaiming that they where going to scrutinise the new phenomena of rental video’s and their content. They where also going to air clips from the programme and warned sensitive viewers of the material to be show.
Now just imagine what this meant to me as a young lad going on eleven… I can’t really remember how I came to see that show, but I certainly remember laying headlong down the staircase, sneaking a peak out of the side of my eyes, trying my damndest not to be caught by my parents who where sat watching. We obviously had a video recorder and the stuff that we where allowed to watch is certainly stuff I would never have shown my own kids at that tender age. Wei Lo’s, Bruce Lee vehicle, Fists of Fury 1972 and Ivan Hall’s Kill or Be Killed 1980, where amongst the first films I ever saw on video and they undoubtedly where a vital part of laying the foundation of my passion for alternative cinema. Anyway, my restrained view, and jackass-like balancing trick down the staircase, never really allowed me to see much of the show or the clips, but holy crap did that audio stay with me for a long time. Just imagine hearing the audio of Leatherface’s first appearance in the hallway, snatching up Teri McMinn, dragging her into that back room, hanging her on that meat hook and cranking up that Poulan 245A chainsaw and not seeing the images to accompany it. Boy, my imagination went rampant. The weeks that followed saw my mates and I talk about nothing but that show and the movies we made up claiming to have seen on rented tapes where certainly stuff that still is way too wild to ever have been made, and only a short while later we where crossing off the corrupting titles of that list of no-no’s. And when we worked our way through them, there was loads more to go through, that’s when I fist encountered the Italian stuff!
Nevertheless the programme generated a horrific spin that saw rental shops raided, new laws passed demanding age limits be mandatory and anyone renting tapes to minors and even displaying a range of titles would be taken to court. A bunch of blokes where taken to court and fined and a couple more in it’s wake. Obviously time changed and new things where determined to be dangerous and the focus shifted. Today nobody really raises an eyebrow about video violence and the age limits for watching movies have also become a lot more modest. But back then that one show created a wildfire of moral panic and definitely spawned a whole generation of horror movie fans.
Amongst them the legendary Sven-Erik Olsson, called by some, the funniest man in Sweden. However more than a funny guy, SEO is also a true enthusiast who, not only has a string of hilarious movies to his resume, but has also been a driving force behind a lot of really classic genre cinema releases for the last decades. Recently he’s been getting smaller movies up on national screens to critical and box-office acclaims. Four years ago he named his company Studio-S after the infamous programme and for the last few years he’s been releasing titles connected to the show and finally a long labour of love has been birthed. The Studio-S & Videovåldet box set.