One of the main influences on the British Horror Films website was a book I bought back in the late 20th century which went, film-by-film, through the video nasties phenomenon. As a child of the 70s I had lived through the whole thing, although as a middle class child with no appetite (at the time) for watching anything stronger than Doctor Who, (and also with parents who steadfastly refused to buy a video recorder), I'd not really seen any of them. The whole thing fascinated me, though, even into my late 20s. So despite still not having seen any of the films, I picked up a copy of John Martin's Seduction of the Gullible: The Truth Behind the Video Nasty Scandal and was immediately hooked by its sideways look at what were basically a bunch of shit films, grouped together by an over-enthusiastic police system and villified by an equally stupid national press as depraved and corrupt.
Martin was intelligent and thorough - he had obviously watched all of the films and enjoyed them on a level I could completely understand - not as a rabid "hur hur his head exploded!" idiot, but as an astonished outsider looking in. And that's the approach I tried to take when I first set up the BHF. I hope that's come across, it certainly doesn't seem to have done the traffic figures any harm!
Aaaaaaaaanyway, that brings us quite neatly to the reason why I started this post in the first place. There's a new DVD out, which like Martin's book, attempts to give an insight into the "video nasties" furore as a whole, as well as showing us all just what a bunch of nondescript wastes of celluloid most of those films actually were (with a few exceptions).
The DVDs not only show us the trailers for the films in all their sleazy glory, they also interview some of the people involved in making modern British horror films, who were influenced by the whole thing. So there is a link to British horror films, honest!
(Only one British film made it onto the list - Expose. Watch it and you'll begin to have an inkling how random their selection process actually was).
Here's the blurb:
Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide – out on DVD Oct 18, 2010. RRP: £24.99
Prepare to be corrupted and depraved once more as Nucleus Films releases the definitive guide to the Video Nasties phenomenon - one of the most extraordinary and scandalous eras in the history of British film.
For the first time ever on DVD, all 72 films that fell foul of the Director of Public Prosecutions are trailer-featured with specially filmed intros for each title in a lavish three-disc collector’s edition box-set, alongside a brand new documentary - VIDEO NASTIES: MORAL PANIC, CENSORSHIP AND VIDEOTAPE, directed by Jake (‘Doghouse’) West.
Producer Marc Morris, co-author of ‘Art of the Nasty’ and ‘Shock Horror: Astounding Artwork from the Video Nasty Era’ comments: “Hopefully, every true movie fan will want this in their collection”..
Disc One presents the 39 titles that were successfully prosecuted in UK courts and deemed liable to deprave and corrupt. These included: ‘Absurd’, ‘Cannibal Holocaust’, ‘The Driller Killer’, ‘I Spit on Your Grave’, ‘Nightmares in a Damaged Brain’, ‘Snuff’ & ‘Zombie Flesh-Eaters’.
Disc Two presents the 33 titles that were initially banned, but then subsequently acquitted and removed from the DPP's list. These included:
‘Death Trap’, ‘Deep River Savages’, ‘The Evil Dead’, ‘Human Experiments’, ‘The Toolbox Murders’ & Zombie Creeping Flesh
Both discs can be viewed either as a non-stop trailer show, or with newly-filmed introductions from a wide range of acclaimed media academics and notable genre journalists. Each disc is preceded by a brief introduction by cult horror presenter Emily Booth.
Disc Three This era-defining documentary features reflective interviews with filmmakers Neil Marshall (‘The Descent’, ‘Doomsday’) and Christopher Smith (‘Severance’, ‘Black Death’ as well as charting the heroic stand taken by journalist/author Martin Barker, who single-handedly came out in protest against what he saw as the erosion of civil liberties. There are also revealing interviews with the MP Graham Bright and Geoffrey Robertson QC, as well as rare archive footage featuring James Ferman (director of the BBFC 1975-1999) & Mary Whitehouse. Taking in the explosion of home video, the introduction of draconian censorship measures, hysterical press campaigns and the birth of many careers born in blood and videotape, West’s cannily piercing and topical documentary also reflects on the influence this peculiar era still exerts on us today.
The documentary was screened at this year’s Film4 FrightFest, midst the controversy of A SERBIAN FILM and the remake of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE being subjected to stringent cuts by the BBFC. A timely warning perhaps
Extras include a gallery of original video company idents and extensive gallery of lurid cover art for every video nasty.
Your can buy the film here:
And here's a link to the book which started it all for me, something I whole-heartedly recommend you buy...