Monday, January 26, 2015



Label: Severin Films

Release Date: February 10th 2015 
Region Code: 0
Duration: 840 Minutes

Rating: Unrated
Audio: English Dolby Digital; 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1)
Director: Jake West
Cast: Martin Barker, Sian Barber, James Ferman, Sir Graham Bright, Lavinia Carey, Alex Chandon, Tony Clarke, Kate Egan, David Flint, John Hayward, Spencer Hickman, David Hyman, Neil Keenan, C.P. Lee, Alan Jones, David Kerekes, Craig Lapper, Neil Marshall, Paul McEvoy, Marc Morris, Kim Newman, Julian Petley, Geoffrey Robertson QC, Christopher Smith, Stephen Thrower, Cathal Tohill, Carol Topolski, Nigel Wingrove


Here we have the follow-up documentary to VIDEO NASTIES: MORAL PANIC, CENSORSHIP AND VIDEOTAPE from director Jake West and producer Marc Morris. The new doc VIDEO NASTIES: DRACONIAN DAYS takes up where the first film left off, a seamless companion piece this time following the further exploits of the Director of British Board of Film Classification James Ferman following the passing of the Obscene Publications Act in 1985 by the Director of Public Prosecutions. 

This time out we have more insider accounts from BBFC examiners David Hyman, Craig Lapper and Carol Topolsky who offer some insight into what went on behind the scenes at the censor board. Topolsky herself recounts a viewing of Lucio Fulci classic THE NEW YORK RIPPER (19882), an experience so horrific for her that she was left weeping silently afterward, so upset was she by the ghastly experience, probably not meant to be funny but I snickered just a little. The late James Fermen is thoroughly represented throughout by a series vintage TV interviews and public appearances, never one to avoid the spotlight, Ferman was quite a charismatic public spokesperson. If you doubt it just watch noted critic and horror author Alan Jones recount how his own opinion of censorship being temporarily swayed following a presentation by the smooth-talking censor. 

It would be quite easy to demonize the man for much of the Video Nasty business but the film paints a somewhat uneven portrait of the man. Ferman flat out refused classification of Tobe Hooper's THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) and William Friedken's THE EXORCIST (1973) but went on to pass David Cronenberg's challenging fetish film CRASH (1996) uncut into the cinema. He would later spearheaded a campaign to loosen constraints on hardcore pornography, a crusade which ended in an early retirement. I did appreciate that the doc's portrayal of Fermen does not completely demonize the censor, though some of his staff certainly raise questions about his practices and increasingly autocratic rule at the BBFC.

Having grown up during the 80s I enjoyed the freedom of uncensored cult, horror and exploitation at the video store, so censorship of film was not something I endured with horror films. It would not be until the Parent Music Resource Center (PMRC) campaigned against my music that censorship struck home. We are shown censorship in action, reaching ridiculous levels  as to restrict what an adult can view in their own home, censors cater to the whims of hysterical free press who routinely lay blame for societal violence at the feet of filmmakers. This was what happened with the murder of a two year-old James Burger by a pair of ten year old youths with a tenuous link to a viewing of CHILD'S PLAY 3 (1991) and the even more suspect connection between the Hungerford Massacre shooter and the action film FIRST BLOOD (1982). 

The Video Nasty era spawned an underground network of gore-starved horror fans who turned to trading uncensored horror tapes with each other at a time when their favorite films were being eviscerated by the BBFC censors. The doc offers fascinating archival footage of an actual raid by the authorities who come into the home of a suspected tape-trader. Here I am staring at my shelves overloaded with uncensored cult and horror films, the thought that I could be raided, my collection destroyed and possibly be imprisoned for it is just mind-boggling, it seems unfathomable to me.  

VIDEO NASTIES: DRACONIAN DAYS is essential viewing and a seamless follow-up to the first VIDEO NASTIES doc.  As with the first VIDEO NASTIES doc the first disc is only the beginning, we still have two more discs with over nine hours of content to pour over. 

Onto the second and third disc is this sprawling it follows the same set-up as the first installment, the original trailers for all 82 films designated under “Section 3” of the Obscene Publications Act by the Director of Public Prosecutions. These titles were liable for seizure and forfeiture by the police, removed from sale or hire and then destroyed; although they were ultimately not prosecuted. The existence of a "Section 3" list was discovered during the making of the original VIDEO NASTIES: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE and is presented here with newly created introductions from noted horror authors and journalists Stephen Thrower, Kim Newman, Alan Jones, Julian Grainger, Justin Kerswell, Dr. Patricia MacCormack, Marc Morris, Kim Newman and Dr. Karen Oughton.

The intros are fantastic with the bulk of the introductions being handled by noted horror authorities Kim Newman, Alan Jones and Stephen Thrower who offer a combination of dry wit and bemusement in addition to some befuddlement with what could have lead to their inclusion on the list. Stephen Thrower has won my heart as he sings the praises for the obscure art house horror entry THE CHILD (1977),  and somehow manages to sing the praises for the snooze fests OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES (1982) and ZOMBIE LAKE (1982). Newman does not seem to be a fan of slashers but mention that  CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980) is a cut above the usual psycho Santa offering. Alan Jones gets a few choice films to intro including DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978), MARTIN (1977), DEEP RED (1975)SUSPIRIA (1977) and the first two FRIDAY THE 13TH entries. I was also pleased to see Justin Kerswell of the HYSTERIA CONTINUES podcast introducing MIDNIGHT (1982), THE PROWLER (1981)and NIGHTMARE CITY (1980). If you are any sort of slasher fan you need to subscribe to the podcast immediately. I did miss the intros from Emily Booth this time around, she was quite a presence on the first VIDEO NASTY doc. 

Both discs two and three offer the option to watch the eighty-two trailers with introduction or the option to view both the trailers and intro separately,  which I appreciated. Sometimes you just want to watch a damn decent trailer reel and another times you may just want to nerd out on the plethora of introductions that are fact-filled nuggets  of cult, horror and exploitation films. That's a mighty list of 82 films, not all are classic films but the trailers are certainly entertaining, through a combination of suspense, schlock and gore each has a charm that cannot be denied. 

Abducted (Don Jones, 1973) intro by Stephen Thrower
Aftermath, The (Steve Barkett, 1980) intro by Dr. Karen Oughton
Black Room, The (Elly Kenner; Norman Thaddeus Vane, 1981) intro by Stephen Thrower
Blood Lust (Marijan Vajda, 1976) intro by Kim Newman
Blood Song (Alan J. Levi, 1974) intro by Justin Kerswell
Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll, The (Carlos Aured, 1973) intro by Alan Jones
Brutes and Savages (Arthur Davis, 1977) intro by Dr. Karen Oughton
Cannibal (Ruggero Deodato, 1976) intro by Alan Jones
Cannibals (Jess Franco, 1980) intro by Marc Morris
Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The (Fred Schepisi, 1978) intro by Dr. Patricia MacCormack
Child, The (Robert Voskanian, 1977) intro by Stephen Thrower
Christmas Evil (Lewis Jackson, 1980) intro by Kim Newman
Communion (Alfred Sole, 1976) intro by Alan Jones
Dawn of the Mummy (Farouk Agrama as Frank Agrama, 1981) intro by Justin Kerswell
Dead Kids (Michel Laughlin, 1981) intro by Alan Jones
Death Weekend (William Fruet, 1976) intro by Kim Newman
Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975) intro by Alan Jones
Demented (Arthur Jeffreys, 1980) intro by Evrim Ersoy
Demons, The (Jess Franco as Clifford Brown, 1972) intro my Marc Morris
Don't Answer the Phone! (Robert Hammer, 1979) intro by Justin Kerswell
Eaten Alive (Umberto Lenzi, 1980) intro by Julien Grainger
Enter the Devil (Frank Q. Dobbs, 1972) intro by Kim Newman
Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, The (Jess Franco, 1972) intro by Stephen Thrower
Evil, The (Gus Trikonis, 1977) intro by Justin Kerswell
Executioner, The (Dominico Miceli as Duke Mitchell, 1978) intro by Evrim Ersoy
Final Exam (Jimmy Huston, 1981) intro by Kim Newman
Foxy Brown (Jack Hill, 1974) intro by Kim Newman
Friday the 13th (Sean S. Cunningham, 1980) intro by Alan Jones
Friday the 13th 2 (Steve Miner, 1981) intro by Alan Jones
G.B.H. (David Kent-Watson, 1983) intro by C.P. Lee
Graduation Day (Herb Freed, 1981) intro by Kim Newman
Happy Birthday to Me (J. Lee-Thompson, 1980) intro by Justin Kerswell
Headless Eyes (Kent Bateman, 1971) intro by Stephen Thrower
Hell Prison (Eduardo Mulargia as Edward G. Muller, 1979) intro by Karen Oughton
Hills Have Eyes, The (Wes Craven, 1977) intro by Kim Newman
Home Sweet Home (Nettie Peña, 1980) intro by Kin Newman
Honeymoon Horror (Harry Preston, 1982) intro by Julian Grainger
Inseminoid (Norman J. Warren, 1980) intro by Alan Jones
Invasion of the Blood Farmers (Ed Adlum, 1972) intro by Kim Newman
Killing Hour, The (Armand Mastroianni, 1982) intro by Dr. Patricia MacCormack
Last Horror Film (David Winters, 1982) intro by Kim Newman
Last Hunter (Antonio Margheriti as Anthony M. Dawson, 1980) intro by Alan Jones
Love Butcher, The (Mikel Ange; Don Jones, 1975) intro by Stephen Thrower
Mad Foxes (Paul Grau, 1981) intro by Stephen Thrower
Mark of the Devil (Michael Armstrong, 1969) intro by Alan Jones
Martin (George A. Romero, 1976) intro by Alan Jones
Massacre Mansion (Michael Pataki, 1975) intro by Kim Newman
Mausoleum (Michael Dugan, 1982) intro by Kim Newman
Midnight (John Russo, 1980) intro by Justin Kerswell
Naked Fist (Cirio H. Santiago, 1981) intro by Marc Morris
Nesting, The (Armand Weston, 1980) intro by Kim Newman
New Adventures of Snow White (Rolf Thiele, 1969) intro by Dr. Patricia MacCormack
Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, 1968) intro by Kim Newman
NightBeast (Donald M. Dohler, 1982) intro by Stephen Thrower
Nightmare City (Umberto Lenzi, 1980) intro by Justin Kerswell
Oasis of the Zombies (Jess Franco, 1981) intro by Stephen Thrower
Parasite (Charles Band, 1982) intro by Kim Newman
Phantasm (Don Coscarelli, 1977) intro by Stephen Thrower
Pigs (Marc Lawrence, 1972) intro by Stephen Thrower
Prey (Norman J. Warren, 1977) intro by  Alan Jones
Prom Night (Paul Lynch, 1980) intro by Kim Newman
Rabid (David Cronenberg, 1976) intro by  Stephen Thrower
Rosemary's Killer (Joseph Zito, 1981) intro by Justin Kerswell
Savage Terror (Sisworo Gautama Putra, 1979) intro by Dr. Karen Oughton
Scanners (David Cronenberg, 1980) intro by Kim Newman
Scream for Vengeance (Bob Bliss, 1979) intro by Kim Newman
Shogun Assassin (Robert Houston, 1972) intro by  Evrim Ersoy
Street Killers (Sergio Grieco, 1977) intro by Dr. Patricia MacCormack
Suicide Cult (James Glickenhaus, 1977) intro by Stephen Thrower
Superstition (James W. Roberson, 1982) intro by Kim Newman
Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977) intro by Alan Jones
Terror (Norman J. Warren, 1978) intro by Evrim Ersoy
Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974) intro by Kim Newman
Thing, The (John Carpenter, 1982) intro by Kim Newman
Tomb of the Living Dead (Gerardo De Leon; Eddie Romero, 1968) intro by Kim Newman
Toy Box, The (Ron Garcia, 1970) intro by Kim Newman
Werewolf Woman (Rino Di Silvestro, 1976) intro by Alan Jones
Wrong Way (Ray Williams (as Ron Kelly, 1972) intro by Dr. Patricia MacCormack
Xtro (Harry Bromley Davenport, 1982) intro by Alan Jones
Zombie Holocaust (Marino Girolami (as Frank Martin, 1980) intro by Kim Newman
Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978) intro by Kim Newman
Zombie Lake (Jean Rollin; Julian de Laserna, 1980 intro by Stephen Thrower 

Special features on disc include a gallery of underground fanzine covers that were popular reading for gore-starved horror fans during the Video Nasty era. There's also a massively entertaining gallery of scanned VHS covers representing the original DPP 72 and DPP 82 films.

I did manage to find two Easter Eggs hidden away on the set. If you are willing to spend the time scrolling up and down the menus you will be rewarded with a short film by director Paul Whittington that was inspired by the first VIDEO NASTIES doc and a gallery of UK horror movie festival passes. If you discover more than what I have uncovered let me know!

- Fanzine Flashback: Image Gallery of 300 rare British Fanzine Covers (18 Minutes) 

- Image Gallery of Banned Video Sleeves (18 Minutes) 
- Easter Eggs: A Short Film Inspired by VIDEO NASTIES (3 Minutes)  and Gallery of Festival Passes 


VIDEO NASTIES: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE: PART 2 is a must-own for any horror fan worth their salt or just film history buffs with an interest in censorship, these three-discs are jam-packed with content from the thorough examination of the censorship on through to the massive collection of rare cult, horror and exploitation trailers. It does not get any more essential than this set right here, definitely an an early contender for release of the year.