Review for Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape
Video Nasties refer to a number of films that were held up by the DPP and the British Film Industry as the absolute worst films in regards to violent content. These included infamous films like Evil Dead, I Spit On Your Grave and Cannibal Holocaust to more obcsure titles like Unhinged, Possession and Killer Nun. The scare was mainly to do with the fact that when video arrived in UK there was no rating or laws regarding this and so there was a scaremongering regarding whether children would be able to get hold of these films. The lead to the Video Recordings Act and the BBFC stepping in to classify and in some cases, censor those films before they could be distributed.
This excellent documentary looks at the films in general and the effects that they had on Horror in general and how the video industry exploded in the UK with almost every corner having some form of video shop. The films that were released were essentially anything and everything which meant that quality control went out of the window. Of the the Seventy-Two titles, it can be argued that really only about a third are worth watching, most have one or two gory or controversial scenes, but this was enough to get them on the list.
Once the government agencies became involved, the main issue was on the effect that these films would have on children (and dogs- don't ask) with so many people talking about how strange the controversy was. One of the tactics used was the show a 'highlight' reel of all the gory parts of the films in questions, yes back to back this would be awful, but out of context it was blatent shock attack.
The documentary was originally released on DVD with a multitude of extra features which were great and I would suggest seeking this out if this is a subject matter you are interested in. There are lots of clips of the films talked about, but you really need to experience them to understand why a film like I Spit On Your Grave or Last House on the Left were so controversial.
I loved this documentary and if you love horror films this is almost a snapshot of what the horror/slasher industry was like between 1970 and 1984 with films pushing the envelope of gore and effects inspiring a whole generation of filmmakers.
The film can be watched as part of the Arrow Streaming Service £4.99 a month/£49.99 Annual Subscription.