Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide Part 2 (2014)
Director: Jake West
Starring: Sir Graham Bright, Julian Petley, James Ferman & Stephen Thrower
Released by: Severin Films
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
Moral panic and extreme censorship once again run rampant in Director Jake West’s acclaimed follow-up documentary to 2010’s Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape. Video Nasties 2: Draconian Days pulls the curtain back on the shocking witch hunts that took place in the wake of the 1984 Video Recordings Act. UK horror enthusiasts were subjected to unthinkable censorship measures and preposterous legal penalties for merely owning content deemed a “video nasty”. Retold by countless film historians, critics, politicians and various archive footage, Video Nasties 2: Draconian Days shines a light on one of the darkest ages in censorship history.
Expertly researched, Video Nasties 2: Draconian Days is a vast improvement over its well crafted predecessor. Director Jake West (Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes) and Producer Marc Morris continue to dig into the past and reveal the shocking censorship skeletons the British Board of Film Classification spewed on UK culture. As moral censorship advocates such as Sir Graham Bright and Mary Whitehouse continued their attack on content deemed obscene and blasphemous, horror enthusiasts were confronted with both Section 2 and 3 of the Obscene Publications Act, the former placing those in possession of video nasties with fines and/or jail time while, the latter would seize said titles to be regularly destroyed with the owner avoiding prosecution. West feels far more in control with a sturdy handle on his subject matter while, maintaining a very neutral focus allowing both differentiating viewpoints to come through. Sir Graham Bright, former BBFC Director James Ferman, Julian Petely, Stephen Thrower and many others offer their scholarly insight as individuals who not only experienced the effects of these restrictions but, were influential in their existence. With video nasties being blamed for virtually every crime committed, their demand grew but were regulated to underground circles where scoring desirable videotapes held a risky weight of severe punishments.
While, some may find the interviews dry, Video Nasties 2: Draconian Days is unquestionably another remarkable effort from West and Morris who have provided audiences with an insanely educational resource for such a turbulent time in British history. Insightful and unsettling, Video Nasties 2: Draconian Days, along with its previous entry, are the definitive statements on the video nasties phenomenon and essential viewing for horror fanatics interested in their favorites films‘ rocky road to being enjoyed in the privacy of one’s own home.
Severin Films presents Video Nasties 2: Draconian Days in anamorphic widescreen, sporting a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Predominately made up of “talking head” interviews and vintage material of slightly lesser quality, Video Nasties 2: Draconian Days appears as one would expect with satisfying picture quality that gets the job done. Equipped with a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix, Video Nasties 2: Draconian Days is hardly dynamic in its sound range but, nicely relays the dialogue of its interview subjects with ease. Covering a whopping three DVDs, Severin Films delivers an abundance of bonus content that will leave viewers with nearly 13 hours of content to sift through. Joining the documentary on disc 1, Fanzine Flashback, UK Fanzines 1985-1995showcases images of countless underground fanzines that made their way through UK circles. In addition, DPP 72 presents the 39 VHS covers for the films highlighted in Section 2 of the Obscene Publication Act while, DPP 82 covers the 82 VHS covers listed in Section 3 of the Obscene Publication Act. Discs 2 and 3 collect all 82 “Section 3” trailers including Blood Lust,Cannibals, Dead Kids, Mark of the Devil, Hell Prison and many more with optional introductions from many of the interview subjects found in the documentary.
As we bask in a time where so many of our favorite video nasties are treated like royalty on home entertainment, Video Nasties 2: Draconian Days reminds viewers of a dark period where consuming such content was an actual crime for UK fans. Almost unbelievable in its absurdity, West presents the facts from those who were on the front lines of this radical moral shift that took hold of a country, harkening back to the days of book burning in Nazi Germany. Enlightening and culturally important, Video Nasties 2: Draconian Days surpasses its acclaimed predecessor and must be seen to be believed.
For more Blu-ray/DVD reviews from Mike Kenny, head over to Mike’s Pop Culture Playhouse!