“Video Nasties” and banned films in general are two things that have interested me for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, the thought of a film being so shocking/outrageous/disturbing that it was restricted from the public scared me as much as it intrigued me.
As I got older and my interest in cinema became more of a geekish lifestyle, my interest in the so called “video nasty outbreak“ also grew. Over the years I’ve gathered various documentaries, read numerous articles and books and of course watched as many of the films as I could. Up until this point, my favourite source for an account of this era was the brilliant ‘Fear, Panic & Censorship’ documentary which was produced for Channel 4 here in the UK and David Kerekes and David Slater’s fantastic book ‘See No Evil‘.
But now, thanks to Nucleus films we have what I would consider to be the visual bible for anyone that is interested in this ridiculous and fascinating period – Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide.
It’s a 3 disc set, so let’s go through them all…
Disc one has the main feature of the set, the documentary ‘Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape’, which premièred at last years Frightfest. It includes interviews with Frightfest organizer Alan Jones, Horror journalist Kim Newman, film makers Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers) and Christopher Smith (Creep) and many more. Also in there, of course, are interviews with some of the conservative politicians who were involved with and instigated the witch hunt, most notably Graham Bright, who still seems as smug, naïve and misinformed as he was in the early eighties…Yes folks, he still reckons that ‘Snuff’ features a real murder, not surprising really, considering this is the man who once said that Video Nasties can influence dogs; this archive footage is included in the documentary but unfortunately he is never asked to follow up on the this masterfully stupid statement. I’d love to call and as him about it myself but he’s probably too busy buying bridges off of people or looking for rocking horse shit.
The more years that go by and the rate in which these so called “obscene” movies are released uncut on DVD in the UK increases, the more ridiculous and fascinating this era becomes. I’ve always said that it’s good that video certification came from this whole mess, I wouldn’t want my kid watching Cannibal Holocaust or Last House On The Left, but banning films, fining people and in one case sending a man to jail, simply for releasing a fictional film containing special (and in some cases, not so special) effects should always be remembered as a giant moronic witch hunt, perpetrated by a bunch of square Tories who knew nothing about how horror had evolved up to that point.
Anyway, back to the documentary…It’s fantastic, simple as that. It’s a damn solid and entertaining hour and ten minutes with an opening gore montage of the 72 “Nasties” (accompanied by The Damned) which would probably have every moral crusader up in arms if they saw it. Lovely.
Also on the first disc is 50 minutes of old school video company logo‘s, so if you were a big renter in the early days of video this will be like hanging out with old friends I’m sure. Some of them are wonderfully understated, a few even using the same templates as each other, and one of which goes on for about 2 minutes, they must’ve been really proud of it I guess.
Finally, we have a gallery featuring the video covers for films which were on the “section 3” list. These being films that were considered for prosecution but eventually were not. Right, on to disc two…
Here’s where it gets good folks, here we have trailers for the 39 films that were prosecuted by the Director Of Public Prosecutions. You can either watch the trailers on their own (which have a rather brilliant video shelf chapter selection) or you can watch them with introductions by various people like Kim Newman, Marc Morris, Alan Jones, Stephen Thrower and more. When watched with the introductions, this collection clocks in at over four hours and with some of the intros being packed with information as well as a review of the film, its almost takes on the form of an epic documentary.
Also included is an image gallery consisting of the video covers for the 39 films.
On disc 3 we have more of the same, this time it’s 33 trailers for films that were banned but then acquitted. Once again you have to option to view with or without intro’s, but trust me, watch them with the introductions…Just leave 4 hours spare.
Topping it all off is another gallery featuring the cover art for the 33 films.
As you can see this is a jam packed set that will please almost any horror/exploitation fan, there’s also a couple of Easter eggs in there too. It is also available as a limited collectors edition which includes a postcard set featuring some classic video nasty cover art for Cannibal Holocaust, Driller Killer, Zombie Flesh Eaters, I Spit On Your Grave and Nightmares In A Damaged Brain.
Why are you still here? Go out and buy this now.