Anyone old enough to remember the British home video revolution of the 1980, will no doubt be aware of the term "Video Nasty". But for those of you not around in the early 80's, the term Video Nasty was the name given to the (usually) low budget, straight to video horror films, that were released to cash in on the popularity boom of home video cassette players. Of the many horror films released, 72 films were eventually singled out, banned and made illegal to own in the uk.
Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide, is three disc set that includes documentaries, trailers and much more on the famous 72 films that were placed on the banned list. The first disk contains the "feature", which is the critically acclaimed documentary VIDEO NASTIES: MORAL PANIC, CENSORSHIP AND VIDEOTAPE directed by Jake West(Doghouse) and produced by Marc Morris. It features talking head interviews with filmmakers such as Neil Marshall (The Descent) and Christopher Smith (Severance),MP Graham Bright(who introduced the Video Recordings Act 1984) as well as rare archive footage featuring James Ferman (director of the BBFC 1975-1999) & Mary Whitehouse.
The film starts out doing a fantastic job of setting the scene by describing the joys of renting the most obscure and lurid movies, having nothing else but the brilliantly grotesque box art to help make their decision. From there we start to get into the now famous"Video Nasties Scandal". Using talking heads and loads or archival footage of news reports of the time, as well as talk show segments and newspaper clippings, we are shown how leading instigator, reactionary Christian advocate Mary Whitehouse lobbies the government and press to outlaw the films, despite the fact that she had never even watched one.
The 72 minute documentary is extremely well made and very informative. The opening montage of all the 72 films played to The Damned's song Video Nasty, really does set the tone for what is to come. Also, the little touches, like distorting the look of the film(like a poorly tracked video would) when the interviewees are talking about the poor quality of the format is great.
If the documentary was all that was in the set, i would have been happy enough, but luckily for me(being a lover of horror history), its not! The 72 minutes I've just discussed, is only a small chink of the almost 13 HOURS of material included.
Each of the additional disks include a thorough examination of the 72 films that were singled out. Split into two parts(one part is about the 39 "prosecuted" films, and the second about the other 33). Each film is listed alphabetically, the same interviewees from the feature discuss the "ins and outs" of each film, like its quality and how it ended up on the list. We also get to see the trailers for the films. It really is a truly majestic roster of film, trailers and discussion, and is a must for any horror fan.
The word "definitive" is in the title of this set, and is by no means hyperbole. This is a fascinating and in depth look at, in my opinion the definitive era for both the horror genre, and home video itself. Along with horror documentaries like Never Sleep Again, and Crystal Lake Memories, this set is a must own for any horror fan.