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I Love TV Edit Horror
I enjoy horror films, but I didn’t take to them immediately. Instead, I gradually learned to appreciate them. It started with older horror films that were easier on my younger sensibilities. Then came the edited TV versions that more than hinted at horrors that were being left out by censors. This was very limited in the pre-cable TV days, but when my family finally got cable and channels like the USA Network landed in our area, things took off.
Hosts like Joe Bob Briggs and Commander USA would introduce me to all manner of horror films, some scary, some not so scary. All of them edited in some way that made them easier for my young mind to process. They were especially great to discover, because while the movies might have been toned down, they were still horror films. This was new to me and their late-night accompaniment added some much-needed levity, as well as just company.
My interest in unedited horror would eventually blossom. This coincided with the opening of multiple video stores in my town. Eventually I would go onto work at these very stores. That is where, under the tutelage of slightly older people, I would get a more worldly education on the genre. I had finally outgrown the need for TV Edit Horror.
Or had I?
A Horror Movie Marathon while on Vacation
Many years ago, I was on vacation. It was very hot in the middle of the day, so I found myself with a few hours each day sitting in the air-conditioned hotel room. A TV channel, maybe AMC, was playing a Friday the 13th Marathon. Every movie, in order, all edited. Tuning in during Part II, I was instantly transported back to my youth.
I was so comfortable that I fell asleep while pre-hockey mask Jason did his business. Waking up during Part III, I completely forgot where I was and didn’t want to stop watching. Only pulling myself away from the couch at the conclusion to Part IV.
While eating dinner that night, I was thinking about horror movies like I hadn’t in years. Despite my age and cinema education, I realized something, I still loved TV Edit Horror.
It could be explained away easily as “nostalgia.” The comfort of youthful film exploration overtaking a larger appreciation of the genre. That is certainly a factor, but the more I have watched these films, the more I am convinced something else is going on.
An Unintentional Sub-Genre
Horror, has spawned many sub-genres over the years. Television networks, while trying to adapt the product to their broadcasting limitation, have spawned a new sub-genre with TV Edit Horror.
Its characteristics, while not unique on their own, together make for a product that is appealing to some viewers. They include:
Reduced gore, language and adult content that makes the film more family-friendly.
Edits that work around implied horror action in the film. This allows a viewer to anticipate action and imagine it, without seeing it.
Edits around language and especially any dubbing resulting in humor.
A reliance on commercials, which act similarly to the addition of a horror host, to lighten the mood.
When a movie was edited to remove something, the editors could sometimes draw upon deleted scenes to help add running-time to the film. Seeing a scene that wasn’t in the original film, before the advent of collector edition home video, was a big deal and very exciting.
While this might not appeal to everyone, especially horror purists, I know I am not alone in enjoying this type of horror. They show up on video hosting sites from time-to-time, and I snagged many back in the days of video tape-trading.
The Amazing and Confusing World of Deleted Scenes
When TV Edit Horror would add deleted scenes to films, it messed with people’s memories. Many of us saw a film for the first time on television and would see a scene that would not appear in the theatrical version we would watch later. This caused wonderful dissonance that triggered many long unresolved arguments with my friends. With me being very sure that something was missing and them thinking I was misremembering.
Do you remember CleanFlicks?
In the year 2000, CleanFlicks opened its doors as a film rental and sales company with a novel twist. They would edit movies, removing content like profanity, violence, and adult situations. Basically anything that might offend anyone.
The legality of the editing was questionable and litigation ensued. In 2006 a court ruling caused the company to shut its doors.
While possibly providing edited horror, I did not like the way the CleanFlicks approached their editing. Nothing about it was subtle. They would cut out scenes or sometimes just silence language in unsatisfying ways. It lacked the charm of the more creative TV edits and didn’t contribute to the TV Edit Horror sub-genre.
Where can you find it?
If you are interested in TV Edit Horror, you can still find it. Just check your local TV broadcast schedule for movies. A lot of the retro TV stations have solid horror films offerings, and “basic cable” TV channels like AMC are still delivering up some quality edited horror in October.
If you are interested in reliving the horror TV experience of your youth, keep searching on sites like YouTube and you will occasionally find old uploads recorded in the eighties and nineties, complete with commercials. Those are getting more rare with every passing day, so if you spot one, make sure to watch it ASAP.
A Sub-Genre in Decline
While cable and broadcast television still persists, the on-demand availability of movies has put TV Edit Horror in serious decline. You can still find it being broadcast, especially during the Halloween season, but many people, including kids, can choose to get their horror in pure unedited form.
So people just getting their first exposure to the genre, will be consuming it in its pure form. If they can handle it, more power to them, but many of us needed some sort of training wheels to get rolling.
Luckily, shows like Svenghoulie and The Last Drive-in with Joe Bob Briggs keep the horror hosting going to add much needed levity to the more timid section of the population.
This type of horror isn’t for everyone, but if you get nervous at the prospect of a full-blown horror film, TV Edit Horror can help you adjust to the genre while still giving you a thrill.