American Scary is a look at the nation's tradition of horror hosting, from Ghoulardi to Ghoul-A-Go-Go. Follow this American folk art form from its glamorous beginnings, through repeated ... See full summary »
John E. Hudgens
George 'E-Gor' Chastain
A documentary features interviews with filmmakers Neil Marshall ('The Descent', 'Doomsday'), Christopher Smith ('Severance', 'Black Death') and MP Graham Bright as well as rare archive footage featuring James Ferman (director of the BBFC 1975-1999) & Mary Whitehouse. Taking in the explosion of home video, the erosion of civil liberties, the introduction of draconian censorship measures, hysterical press campaigns and the birth of many careers born in blood and videotape, West's documentary also reflects on the influence this peculiar era still exerts on us today. Written by
Available as part of Nucleus Films 3 disc DVD set "Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide". See more »
And I think... the most interesting thing to me is just how little historical memory we have. The next time there's a panic, we won't remember just how stupid the last one was and how people get away with things. And that to me is the most important lesson about this campaign. The evangelicals got away with murder. They got away with fraud. They got away with deceiving people. They now laugh it off and the fact that all these films, almost all these films are now available uncut in the public ...
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And if we don't keep that historical memory, we will allow them to do it again next time.
The "video nasty" era of Great Britain fell right in my lifetime arc, I was still at senior school and therefore apparently at risk of being corrupted by the sickening filth that was being trundled out on VHS. Watching this quite wonderful documentary now just confirms how bizarre, bogus and utterly ridiculous the whole thing was.
That's not to say I, or any right minded parent, would purposely seek out the likes of I Spit On Your Grave, Driller Killer et al, and then sit down our six year olds in front of the TV, "hey kids, watch this, it's really cool", but the moral panic whipped up by the press and politicians not fit to actually run the country, was at the time like some sort of hysteria. It was like The Sex Pistols saying a rude word on the television was seen as the starting point for the break down of civilised society!
Jake Wests' documentary could quite easily have been a loaded piece just arguing about freedom of choice, artistic integrity etc, in fact when you see that respected purveyors of British Horror like Chris Smith, Neil Marshall, Kim Newman and Andy Nyman are lined up for comments, it lends one to think that might be the case. However, and of course they have their own opinions and spleen venting towards the whole thing, West deals in facts, deconstructing the figures and viability of supposed research into what our youngsters were watching back then. And if you believe Tory MP Graham Bright, our dogs as well!
Led by the key player, Martin Baker who still to this day is happily awaiting for the government to try and sue him for exposing the truth, this documentary lays it down true. Complete with old footage, stills and newspaper reports, the time period is brought vividly to life (remember those top loading video recorders!), so yes there's obviously a big nostalgia factor for myself and my luminaries; Messrs Marshall etc. This shouldn't detract from the core issue of censorship and the abuse of such, making this an essential viewing for any horror film fan.
Hey! Don't get me wrong, in truth 90% of the films that made the infamous banned list were, and still are, pretty naff, where quite often the cover of the VHS was far more scary than anything in the film! But that's not the point is it? 9/10
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