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By James Whittington, Monday 14th July 2014
Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide 2 - Draconian Days 1984-1999 - DVD Review
3-Disc Special Edition
Any horror fan of my age or older will know of the Video Recordings Act of 1984. Pushed through Parliament by Graham Bright, it was one of the Government’s biggest ever knee-jerk reactions to something they just didn’t understand. Films on video, specifically horror ones, were being blamed for what was happening on the streets of the UK and they needed something to blame it on and in 1984 it was Video Nasties.
This superb follow-up to Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship And Videotape from Jake West charts this time where the BBFC began to classify videos and the mass hysteria that came with it. The new bill meant all titles on video, old and new, from every genre not just horror had to be given a classification. James Ferman who was BBFC Director at the time oversaw this. His main beef seemed to be that people could watch films over and over again and the Government and other ruling bodies feared this would affect “some” viewers. This is where Ferman didn’t help himself, being slightly elitist and even once stated that “It’s all right for you middle-class cineastes to see this film (The Texas Chan Saw Massacre), but what would happen if a factory worker in Manchester happens to view it?”. Does that sort of response remind you of a certain Chancellor’s “bingo” remark at the last budget?
Incredibly well researched this documentary charts how media regularly began to blame film for the evils of this world and its incredible to see director Alex Chandon being grilled on national television from a clip from 1993. He’s asked by the outraged and ill-informed interviewer if he feels he has a responsibility when making horror films. Chandon makes the obvious point that he makes them for adults not children but is talked down by the ever angry presenter arguing that children will watch them as if it’s Alex’s fault! Talk about trial by television! I need to add this doesn’t stop the doc from being balanced; it gives people from both sides the opportunity to speak their minds which makes it even more appealing. There’s plenty of clips from the movies discussed so be prepared for some classic moments of violence and gore.
As the law became tougher and even stricter, the doc reveals the black market that grew and how bootleg videos became almost a currency in some parts. It also looks at the VPRC (Video Packaging Review Committee) who oversaw the content on video covers and how their decisions were made.
This companion to the equally brilliant Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship And Videotape documentary completes the picture of this dark time in British censorship and is without doubt one of the best pieces about this time ever made and will appeal not just to horror fans but those with just a passing interest in cinema; in a word essential.
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