Mark McKenna's profile

Mark McKenna
PhD Candidate

Research Title:
Selling Fear: The Marketing and Distribution of the Controversial Horror Film

The research examines how the marketing and distribution strategies of companies embroiled in the 'Video Nasties' moral panic contributed to, and exploited, the subsequent backlash which ultimately culminated in the Video Recordings Act 1984.  Of particular interest will be the way in which the companies utilised the moral panic as a marketing tool in its own right and how the distribution company VIPCO went on to be defined by the 'banned brand', leading to questions surrounding the development of the genre label in the UK and the national positioning of a previously marginalised product

Director of Studies:  Clarissa Smith

Start Year:  2012

BA Electronic Media Design (University of Sunderland)
Postgraduate Certificate, Animation and Design (University of Sunderland)
Postgraduate Diploma, Animation and Design (University of Sunderland)

Associate Member of the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research – Screen Cultures


Forthcoming publications

  • 'A Murder Mystery in Black and Blue: The Marketing, Distribution and Cult Mythology of Snuff in the UK', in N Jackson, S Kimber, T Watson, J Walker (eds), Snuff: Real Death and Screen Media (Bloomsbury Academic)
  • '"What Film Is Your Film Like?": Retitling as Adaptation and Paratext, in A Fisher, J Walker (eds), Grindhouse: Transcultural Exchange on 42nd Street, and Beyond (Bloomsbury Academic)
  • 1984: Freedom and Censorship in the Media, M McKenna, J. Mercer, A Mondin (eds) (Palgrave Macmillan)

Invited Speaker

  • 2014: 'Plastic Nostalgia: In Remembrance of the "Video Nasty"', University of Birmingham, 15 October
  • 2014: 'From Video Collecting to Contemporary Cinema', Abertoir Horror Festival, Aberystwyth, 11–16 November

Conference papers

  • 2014: 'Reconfiguring the "Merchants of Menace"', Archaeologies of Media and Film conference, University of Bradford, 9 September
  • 2014: 'Banned in the UK: Approaching an Industrial Analysis of "Video Nasty" Distribution', Industrial Approaches to Media: Methodological Gateway to Industry Studies, University of Nottingham, 5 June
  • 2014: 'Coming Back from the Dead: Zombie Distribtion and the Unofficial Franchise', Italian Horror Cinema, University of Bedfordshire, 9 May
  • 2014: 'A Murder Mystery in Black and Blue: Astra Video and the UK Distribution of Snuff', Cult Cinema and Technological Change, Aberystwyth University, 15 April
  • 2014: 'Strong Uncut Version: Censorship and Blame in VIPCO's Reissues of the "Video Nasties"', International Film Studies Spring School, Gorizia, 9 April
  • 2013: '"What Film is Your Film Like?" Retitling as Adaptation and Paratext', Adventures in Texuality: Adaptation in the Twenty-First Centry conference, University of Sunderland, 3 April

Conference Reports



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