Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape (2010)

5.0 out of 5

In Britain the law proved slow to keep up with changing technology. For a brief period in the early 1980s VHS boom there was a liberalization that fed a growing taste for the more extreme end of horror and exploitation cinema. The resulting backlash from the moralist conservative right represented one of the most shameful periods of British censorship as films were burned and vendors prosecuted. The dark age of the video nasty was born.

Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape combines archive footage with talking head segments and provides a fascinating oversight of the whole phenomena as the viewer is informed that one day a study may show that extreme movies upset dogs and other such claptrap from a conservative right who proved capable of speaking of liberty out of one side of their mouth while engaging in such patronizing paternalistic nonsense as deciding what adults could and could not see in their own home.

It should come as no surprise that Italy is extremely well represented on what was known as the DPP list with notorious fare such as Cannibal Holocaust sharing the dubious honour with such pube munching nonsense as The Beast In Heat.

For those who remember the whole sorry affair the documentary could represent a trip down memory lane while underscoring the point that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. For viewers of all ages the film provides a chance to become acquainted with some old school horror cinema and exploitation marketing techniques in a crude, more embryonic form that nevertheless provided effective to the point of causing a nightmare in the damaged brains of the swivel eyed reactionary British establishment.

As part of a package that includes artwork, distributor idents and trailers for all the titles on the banned list with introductions from the likes of Kim Newman and Stephen Thrower, Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape could possibly be the final word on this fascinating period of film history.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics