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Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide

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Posted 2nd November 2010 at 04:47 PM by Sam@Cult Labs


At last, finally, about time...




I'm sure many Cult Labs members were first hipped to the world of Eurotrash Horror, sleazy US slashers and other underground movie weirdness when the Thatcher government of the 1980s decided that, in the absence of a better bogeyman to blame societies numerous ills upon, they'd attack the video industry.

As the fascinating documentary that accompanies Nucleus Films new trailer collection confirms, in a country ravaged by economic cuts and a rising, government approved, selfishness, tabloid hysterics, Festival of Light Tamborine bangers and self-appointed moral guardians everywhere saw uncensored, unfettered access to cinema as an easy target.

The early pioneers of the industry were generally small operators, picking up whatever was available to release into a market hungry for movies. With plenty of people spending redundancy payouts on video libraries and any shop with a few spare feet stocking titles, a revolution in the way people watched movies was underway. An unregulated, uncut and free revolution in which censors and other busybodies had no hand. This was soon to change as kneejerk legislation was brought into play in a perverse reaction to the tabloid frenzy of stories in which any dodgy crim could hang his guilt on a rented copy of Nightmares in a Damaged Brain.


UK horror director Jake West's new film forms the heart of this unique DVD collection as he rounds up a host of well informed film critics to pass comment on this weird era in UK history. West also gives those on the censorious side of the debate a free say.

This is an inspired move as he allows them enough rope to hang themselves, rather than making fun of their silly moral crusade. The MP who helped to push through the video recordings act that saw many great movies (and a lot of really awful ones which the law helped to promote) banned has a great deal of pride in his role in the affair but he isn't mocked or derided directly by the film. Bad memories of Michael Moore needling a clearly ailing Charlton Heston spring to mind, but thankfully the director chooses not to weaken his film by sending up those on the other team.

Using Contemporary footage from TV and news programmes of the era, the documentary builds a 360 degree picture of the clamour and hysteria that surrounded the issue as well as highlighting the confusion among the public, video industry and police alike. If I wasn't so anti-authoritarian I might almost feel sorry for hapless and film illiterate coppers having to raid legitimate businesses and make snap judgements on what may or not be offensive.

Ultimately, it reveals the philistine culture we have that makes some people wish to oppress and restrict the actions of others. We could have had a sensible debate but instead, as is often true today, it's easier, cheaper and grabs more headlines to ban and vilify than to address real underlying causes for our problems.

Anybody with even a passing interest in horror movies and our countries relationship with them needs to see this film. It builds on the good work done with the bonus features in Anchor Bay's Box of the Banned collections by taking a similar format and creating a definitive FILM about the subject instead of a nice looking DVD extra (albeit a superb one).


Perfect for any party or social gathering, especially a maiden aunts birthday, Nucleus Films have brought us, finally and in one place, trailers for each picture that's made it to the DPP's 'Video Nasty' list. Divided over two discs and split between those that remained banned and those which were deemed not to be obscene on appeal, it's a brilliant watch for any lover of horror and exploitation.

Each trailer gets an introduction, generally by an expert in the horror field, with Kim Newman standing out for his dedication to re-watching some of the lamest films in the 70s/80s US horror cycle. Alan Jones gets it easy, with insightful intros to his beloved Argento movies, while poor Kim had to hack his way through Frozen Scream and their like. It's when you actually watch the promos for the real stinkers and low rent cash-ins that you begin to understand just how the list has become a shopping guide for film buffs.

While atrocity classics like Cannibal Holocaust or surreal Italio-horror masterpieces like Inferno stand up as great cinema, many of the lesser films owe their public profile to being banned or censored in this country. I certainly doubt if I'd be mentioning The Werewolf and the Yei had it not been deemed a threat to the mental wellbeing of the young generation.


Put simply, this is one of the best horror packages to come to UK DVD in a very long time. Superb value for money, a great party DVD and a godsend for video editing freaks and sample hounds. This set is a step up from previous trailerthon releases such as the excellent 42md Street Forever discs because there's real background and depth as opposed to just an entertaining trash mash-up.

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  1. Old Comment
    mercury's Avatar
    Nice review Sam, I can't wait for my copy to arrive now.
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 2nd November 2010 at 08:03 PM by mercury mercury is offline
  2. Old Comment
    I cant wait to own this it looks fabulous, amazing review.
    Just makes me want it even more!.
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 2nd November 2010 at 09:25 PM by Dr Shonzo Dr Shonzo is offline
  3. Old Comment
    shawnduhast's Avatar
    Is now def coming out on Monday - Marc Morris said their replicator delivered 1 day late because being a small company the big boys get their stuff prioritised :-(
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 3rd November 2010 at 11:25 AM by shawnduhast shawnduhast is offline
  4. Old Comment
    stefanmetal's Avatar
    Im gonna get this for christmas. Cant wait.
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 15th November 2010 at 09:44 PM by stefanmetal stefanmetal is offline
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