On Dec. 8, 1980, a crazed fan murdered the voice of a generation. The outpouring of grief occurred on a global scale. Thirty years later, it’s almost impossible for those of us not yet born or too young to understand what was going on to grasp the magnitude of John Lennon’s death. In the weeks following Lennon’s death, a wave of anti-violence in cinema sentiment swept across the United States. Slasher films were already under attack by film critics and women’s groups but now they had Mark David Chapman as a prime example of the type of diseased minds created by these diseased movies.
The first major victim of the slasher backlash was My Bloody Valentine, a film finally released uncut last year. Director George Mihalka explained how Lennon’s death directly affected how the MPAA handled the film on the special features found on the Lionsgate dvd. The MPAA refused to give the film less than an X rating until almost all of the blood and gore was removed. A running joke among slasher fans was the film should’ve been called “My Bloodless Valentine” until the lost footage was finally restored.
Other victims of the backlash included Friday the 13th Part II and The Burning. Friday the 13th Part II was a major target because the original film made $42 million during a summer when most Hollywood films bombed. Like My Bloody Valentine, The Burning is finally available uncut almost thirty years after its theatrical release. Anything from Italy also went under the knife. The works of Argento, Fulci, Lenzi, and D’Amato were hacked up worse than most of the victims in the films.
Taxi Driver, while not a slasher, was frequently listed as one of those films that promoted anti-social behavior. Sure, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are considered major talents today, but back then Taxi Driver was lumped in with Maniac and I Spit on Your Grave as proof only sick degenerates were drawn to and inspired by these films. Actually, Taxi Driver is the only film mentioned in this article that really did inspire a nutcase. John Hinckley watched Taxi Driver, fell in love with Jodie Foster, and decided to win her heart by shooting President Ronald Reagan.