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Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide
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Every Video Nasty critiqued and explored, followed by the original trailers, for the first time ever on DVD in America!
Prepare to be corrupted and depraved once more with this definitive guide to the Video Nasties phenomenon - one of the most extraordinary and scandalous eras in the history of British film. For the first time ever on DVD, TRAILERS to all 72 films that fell foul of the Director of Public Prosecutions are featured with specially filmed intros for each title in a lavish three-disc collector's edition box-set, alongside a brand new documentary - VIDEO NASTIES: MORAL PANIC, CENSORSHIP AND VIDEOTAPE.
Disc One, The era-defining and critically acclaimed documentary VIDEO NASTIES: MORAL PANIC, CENSORSHIP AND VIDEOTAPE directed by Jake (Doghouse) West and produced by Marc Morris features interviews with filmmakers Neil Marshall ('The Descent', 'Doomsday'), Christopher Smith ('Severance', 'Black Death') and MP Graham Bright as well as rare archive footage featuring James Ferman (director of the BBFC 1975-1999) & Mary Whitehouse. Taking in the explosion of home video, the erosion of civil liberties, the introduction of draconian censorship measures, hysterical press campaigns and the birth of many careers born in blood and videotape, West's documentary also reflects on the influence this peculiar era still exerts on us today.
Disc Two presents the 39 titles that were successfully prosecuted in UK courts and deemed liable to deprave and corrupt. These included: 'Absurd', 'Cannibal Holocaust', 'The Driller Killer', 'I Spit on Your Grave', 'Nightmares in a Damaged Brain', 'Snuff' & 'Zombie Flesh-Eaters'.
Disc Three presents the 33 titles that were initially banned, but then subsequently acquitted and removed from the DPP's list. These included: 'Death Trap', 'Deep River Savages', 'The Evil Dead', 'Human Experiments', 'The Toolbox Murders' & Zombie Creeping Flesh.
Discs 2 & 3 can be viewed either as a non-stop trailer show, or with newly-filmed introductions from a wide range of acclaimed media academics and notable genre journalists. Each disc is preceded by a brief introduction by cult horror presenter Emily Booth.
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But I digress, this is space for a review of the Video Nasties documentary. And what a docu it is. Director Jake West wisely chooses to present the events as they were, instead of shaking a finger at the BBFC and the British government as a whole. It IS scary to see how easily civil liberties were cast aside in the name of building a nanny nation. What's even scarier is the lack of accountability from many of the political members involved. Video interviews show how many of these pearl-clutchers openly admitted they never actually watched any of the tapes that were supposedly destroying the innocence of the nation's youth. But again, West declines judgement. That much is left to many of the interview subjects who found themselves on the "wrong" side of the law.
The docu is chock full of carefully researched info on the inception of the term Video Nasty, the beginning of the ban list, those who faced or might face criminal charges, and the "end" of the Video Nasties Witch hunt. Interview subjects range from film makers who were involved in the production of said Nasties, shop owners who bore the wrath of the government, some of those government officials themselves, to modern-day directors and writers who very clearly wear the influence of the Nasties with pride. It's the diverse range of interviews and research that give this a more well-rounded look at the subject than most fluff pieces and/or one-sided documentaries on some film subjects. Of course, the docu itself is the academic aspect, looking more at the time period itself than the films themselves.
That's where the other 2 discs come in. For those who might find the docu boring, discs 2 and 3 are where the fun begins. Disc 2 lists the 39 (of 72 from the banned list) film titles that were successfully deemed to have a corruptible influence on the UK youth, and prosecuted as such. There are 2 viewing options on this disc. One is to watch just the trailers for the films on a straight shot, not unlike the 42nd Street Forever DVDs. The other is to watch not only the trailers, but intros and information beforehand from a wide array of directors, writers, collectors, and personalities. I personally prefer the latter. It's fascinating seeing the critical analysis of these trailers, many of which, through modern eyes anyway, seem downright tame. Fair warning, though. Watching the trailers with intros WILL eat up about 3-4 hours of your time. For the intellectual bloodhound, though, it's 3-4 hours well spent. The same goes for disc 3, which goes into the remaining 33 film titles whose bans were eventually lifted in the UK.
I HIGHLY recommend this guide for any stripe of film fan out there. There have been countless books written on the subject, as well as books detailing the VHS cover art of these beauties, but for a fully immersive experience, you can do no better than this.
The idiology behind the Video Nasties list was simply iditotic, pandering to the fears of "upstanding" British citizens by delivering the standard amount of BS the usually goes along with propaganda. The footage of VHS tapes being burned is particularily disturbing, as one cannot help but recall the days of Nazi book-burning.
The tidbits and "fun facts" preceeding all of the trailers are excellent. And although the trailers vary in quality - some obviously from DVD releases, some obviously from VHS - it was great that Nucleus was able to gather all of the trailers (and, yes, ALL of the Video Nasties trailers are here)!
After holding onto a bootleg copy of the UK release, it was nice to add an offically-released copy of this set to my library. If you're even somewhat interested, I would advise you to do the same.
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As a long time horror fan who remembers a time when you had to put some effort into tracking down 'uncut' versions of...Read more