Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide (2010) DVD Review

Video Nasties – a term not necessarily as prevalent in the U.S as it is over here in the sunny old U.K.  In case you’re unaware of what they are, I’ll tell you.  They were a group of movies that fell foul of the Video Recordings Act of 1984, an act passed by a few people in high up places that went a bit mental and decided the public shouldn’t be allowed to watch horror films anymore.  The very worst of the gore-fests were placed on this ‘video nasties list’ and promptly banned – lots of innocent people got in trouble, The Daily Mail went apeshit (as usual) and the public got all riled up.

This three disc set has collected info and trailers for all the films on the list (including the ones that were subsequently taken off) and given them each an in-depth exploration.  It’s a massively comprehensive boxset and will leave you informed and educated to a degree thought impossible on a subject such as this.  Although, probably a little bit disturbed too.

The first disc takes a look at all 39 films that were successfully prosecuted and banned from the shops, each with an introduction from genre experts such as Alan Jones, Julian Petley and Xavier Mendik (who actually taught me), Emily Booth and Neil Marshall.  Each expert gives a (sometimes) in-depth analysis of the film, considering its social and political status as well as taking into account its context during the time of its release.  For the most famous titles (“I Spit on Your Grave”, “The Driller Killer”) these features are particularly comprehensive and give an extremely interesting and useful (if you’re someone whose mates aren’t bored with you constantly wittering on about horror films, anyway) amount of information about these grue-flicks.

The second disc is concerned with the 33 films that were eventually dropped from the list (“The Evil Dead”, “The Beyond” etc) and each is given as much time as the previous disc.  As with the first dvd, each discussion is then followed by the film’s original trailer. It’s basically the same as disc 1, only with different films.

The third disc is special features. Most of them are disposable, but one is an absolute must-see – the full-length documentary “Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape”, which is directed by horror director Jake West (“Evil Aliens”). It’s a massively comprehensive look at the entire furore, and will be of similar interest to horror aficionados and beginners (or even non-fans) alike, because it focuses on a time when these now obscure horror films affected the entire U.K and were front page news. It looks at the political and social climate of the country at the time, and will therefore be worth watching for anyone with even the smallest interest in how the Government works.

It holds interviews with people on both sides of the battle lines, but overall it maintains an anti-censorship stance (even if it doesn’t necessarily want to) so might irk those that agree with what the bbfc (or MPAA) do, but it’s still impressively entertaining and a massively informative watch. There are also some quite nice clips and the lark thrown in for good measure.

Overall, for fans of horror – particularly video nasties – this dvd collection is indispensable, and short of an entire boxset of every video nasty on the list (unlikely), this is the most comprehensive collection of info on what was a regrettable period in the recent history of the British Isles.

“Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide” is out now on DVD from Nucleus Films