Documentary

Video Nasties – The Definitive Guide (2010)

Comments Off on Video Nasties – The Definitive Guide (2010) 17 December 2014

videonastiescover

Studio: Severin

DVD Release: June 3, 2014

Director: Jack West

Not Rated

Review by James Klein

I have always been fascinated with controversial films and its cultural impact since I was in my pre-teens, reading up on various films in Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide or watching Siskel and Ebert’s At the Movies. As my tastes changed it was movie critic / author/ humorist Joe Bob Briggs who introduced me to several genre films. Author Danny Perry’s Cult Movies and its sequels were like my personal Bible(s) when I was in high school. I was intrigued at how a film could make such an impact on not just a person but on society as a whole (kind of ironic that I am doing this review as just today Sony Pictures has decided to pull the upcoming controversial comedy The Interview a week before it’s debut this Christmas due to threats regarding its subject matter).

Video Nasties

Severin’s captivating documentary Video Nasties takes a look at the surrounding and ongoing controversy of horror films in Britain. Starting in the early 80’s when video was booming and video stores around the world started to emerge, Britain had a severe censorship battle between video distributors and politicians.

While Britain had a rating system similar to the U.S. for all films that were released theatrically, their video labels were not rated. Basically, a 10 year old kid could walk into a video store and rent I Spit On Your Grave or Driller Killer without so much as a blink. I myself don’t remember ever having to argue with a video store clerk about what I was renting but that was because I was with my parents who buckled down on everything I watched, analyzing the video box to make sure a film wasn’t rated R or X (although Re-Animator was seen by my nine year old eyes thanks to the rating of NR which my father didn’t understand). During the early 80’s when more and more films were pushing the boundaries of sex and violence, these films began to populate in the video stores and soon it became a rite of passage if one got their hands on a certain horror or exploitation film. Small video companies would buy several horror films cheaply, even creating new cover art to entice the customer into renting them.

Martin Barker

When parents began to take notice, the called for a stop of these films to be so readily available to their children (hmm, maybe parents needed to do a little parenting and not put the blame on others). A newspaper article was soon released and coined the term “Video Nasty” to describe a film that was overly disgusting or violent. This soon became a term that was widely used for years to come. Almost instantly, the Video Packaging Review Committee (VPRC) was created who began to buckle down on extreme horror films.

Video Nasties The Definitive Guide

The documentary goes in great detail, chronicling the start of this insane witch hunt which soon brought in politicians who thought they were “protecting the children” when it was just pushing their political agendas. They only decided to go after the video stores and video distributors because that was what the general public thought was right at the time. Within a year, a list was created of certain films that were banned from all video stores. If a video store even rented out a certain film that was on that list, a fine or in some cases, jail time was forced upon that very person. And just that very thing happened when a distributor was jailed for releasing Nightmare in a Damage Brain. What I found even more shocking was that certain films that were not even on the Video Nasty list was getting pulled off the shelves because of their titles like Apocalypse Now. Many of the films that were pulled from the shelves were burned in an incinerator, which filmmaker Neil Marshall (The Descent) compares to Germany’s book burning during WWII.

Christopher Smith

The main antagonist in Video Nasties is Sir Graham Bright, a politician who passed the bill banning all Video Nasties from the shelves of video stores because he believed it not only affected children but also dogs! While Bright considers what he did morally right, he shyly admits that he may have went a bit overboard with the “agenda”. As the documentary continues, the filmmakers reveal that reports such as Video Violence and Children and all of the “research” that somehow proved these films caused violence among its citizens were all made up.

Sir Graham Bright

Severin’s wonderful DVD also includes two more discs that feature the movie trailers of all of the films that were banned and the films that were temporarily banned in the UK. Even better, the viewer has the option to watch the discs as a trailer compilation or watch the trailers with an intro by various film historians who give a brief history on that film. Trailers for such films include Cannibal Holocaust, Snuff, and House by the Cemetery. An added bonus on disc 1 is a compilation of UK’s old video labels that are now no longer around. While I didn’t recognize any, it was neat to see these early 80’s video labels that now look so cheap.

video nasty

Video Nasties – The Definitive Guide is a must see for not just fans of the genre but also those who are interested in subjects such as censorship, the justice system and political agendas that are forced among citizens. It’s a topic that is still relevant today however unfortunate.

Movie and DVD Rating: ★★★★★

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