Friday, February 13, 2015


George Santayana ( and many after) stated that, "those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it". While this is always a valuable quote to keep under your hat when discussing political upheaval, war and genocide, it is perhaps the most befitting statement for the protagonists in horror movies. You go to the camp where the kid died that one time a long time ago... you get thwapped into a tree multiple times while tucked away in a sleeping bag. You go to sleep in a mental hospital; some guy with blades on his fingers turns you into a puppet and throws you off a building. You truly could have avoided either fate (courtesy of Jason Voorhees and Fred Kruger respectively) had you only heeded the warning from Santayana. While I stray into absurd  fiction for a second to deliver a point, there is a valuable historical period to which we should all pay attention. It is near and dear to our genre of choice and furthermore and,with some warning, history has decided it might just be ready for syndication. The Video Nasties Live!  

Severin Films has brought The Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide Part 2 to the United States after being released by Nucleus in the UK. It's a follow up to the first guide that focused on the 72 movies that were prosecuted under the Video Recording Act of 1984 and features movies that were dragged into a bloody hornet's nest of censorship by  some "moral" folks in the UK. The first entry in this series is a must watch documentary filled with juicy pieces of knowledge about some of our favorite horror and exploitation films, but even more important the original documentary provides the context and lesson of how wholesale censorship can occur in free lands.  Part 2 continues that lesson, displaying how morality breeds morality breeds intolerance and self righteousness all under the guise of protecting children and keeping the culture strong.The period following the VRA84 was vicious. Beyond the enactment of regulation that led to raids and imprisonment, lives were destroyed over pieces of fiction that were quite legal in many parts of the world. 

Where Part 2 in this series will be the most valuable for the viewer is serving as a jumping off point and introduction to many great movies that can be overlooked by the casual horror fan. Just as the first 72 serve as a bucket list, movie watcher's guide, so does the next 82. These are more obscure movies for most of you. You've probably seen or heard of a number of them, but there's plenty in the 82 that will be new to you or will be put back in focus for you. The first disc is the documentary itself focusing on the historical period and providing both editorial opinion and a cold hard history lesson into how censorship happens. The second disc is filled to the brim with trailers and film introductions that provide background and synopsis for each of the 82 movies featured on Draconian Days (the alt title for Part 2). Per Severin, titles include: Blood Lust, Brutes and Savages, Cannibals, Dead Kids, Deep Red, Death Weekend, Demented, Eaten Alive, Headless Eyes, Hell Prison, Love Butcher, Mark of the Devil, Massacre Mansion, Savage Terror, Scream for Vengeance, Suicide Cult, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Xtro and Zombie Holocaust.

The three disc set boasts 840 minutes of material! The value of this set in both historical significance, weight of knowledge and entertainment valuable is second to only the original release (if it is second in name only). The most surprising and definitely enjoyable feature on this release was the fanzine cover art gallery. 300 British fanzine covers on display! Some of them were familiar to me, and others joined the list of zines to be added to my ever present collecting hunt. You also get a videotape cover art gallery. I love the cover art for this series.

I started this thing off quoting a man who understood the value of retrospection. Look back. See how these moral warriors assemble and create aggravated acts of outrage in the name of their own petty ideology at the expense of human life and freedom. We not beyond the censorship and oppression that lived on the front page of newspapers during the Video Nasty era. One might even say that the nasty era didn't end; it continues to this day only it's malleable or changes it's color like a chameleon. Just because the milk snatcher died (that would be Margaret Thatcher) and Whitehouse is in the ground, doesn't mean their hydra-esque accomplices aren't hidden in the House of Commons or perhaps even in North America. Jake Morris and Marc Morris continue to empower younger generations who haven't had the pleasure of having had a VHS tape ripped from their still living hands.

You can order Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide Part 2  now:

From Severin:

Prepare to be corrupted and depraved once more by the sequel to the definitive guide to the Video Nasties phenomenon – the most extraordinary and scandalous era in the history of British film. For the first time ever on DVD, all 82 films that fell foul of the Director of Public Prosecutions “Section 3” list are trailer-featured with specially filmed intros for each title, alongside director Jake West’s brand new documentary – VIDEO NASTIES: DRACONIAN DAYS.

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