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

Not Rated | | Documentary | 3 June 2014 (USA)
A documentary analyzing the furore which so-called "video nasties" caused in Britain during the 1980s.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Julian Petley ...
Marc Morris ...
Xavier Mendik ...
Kim Newman ...
John Hayward ...
John McVicar ...
Himself (archive footage)
Geoffrey Robertson ...
Martin Barker ...
Fredric Wertham ...
Himself (archive footage)
Patricia MacCormack ...
Mary Whitehouse ...
Graham Bright ...


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 Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


72 films that changed Britain forever. See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 June 2014 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Available as part of Nucleus Films 3 disc DVD set "Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide". See more »


Martin Barker: 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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References Beyond the Darkness (1979) See more »


Performed by The Damned
Under license from Universal Music
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User Reviews

Great Memories In An Informative Documentary
5 May 2015 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

Young people nowadays don't know they're born . They want to watch a newly released Hollywood movie ? All they have to do is log on to their parents computer , search around for certain pirate sites and they'll be able to find the latest Hollywood blockbusters . Not so in my day where Rothesay didn't have a cinema from 1976-91 . If you wanted to watch a movie you'd need to take a ferry trip to Wemyss Bay and then a bus to Greenock . Thank goodness for a thing called a video recorder where not only could you record TV shows on to very expensive video tape but could go to a retailer - usually a corner shop that also sold alcohol - and hire a movie to watch . Strangely enough major studios weren't too keen on bringing out major releases . That said no one I knew was interested in major studio pictures , what me and my peers wanted was gore , gore and more gore and the video market was born for this era . If you're middle aged you're still able to name off the top of your head all these legendary "video nasties" you remember from your youth . This documentary featuring film makers , critics , academics and law enforcers take us back to the good old bad days where every film you watched was both stomach churning and laughable at the same time

The documentary wastes no time in showing the audience what the films that gained so much notoriety were and we see an alphabetical countdown of the 72 films that made the banned list . I was somewhat surprised as to how many of these films I saw back in the day . Perhaps even more surprisingly is how many such as ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS , THE EVIL DEAD and DRILLER KILLER actually turned up on satellite or network television years later . There's also a great nod to nostalgia and director Jake West shows the audience by tweaking he picture just how bad these videos looked on a visual level , many of which were third or fourth generation copies with the video heads clogged up with dust and the picture and sound constantly breaking up . Of course it didn't seem so bad at the time , but it's a good nostalgia trip for those who remember these days before DVDs came on the market with their cinematic picture quality and shows the youngsters today that what they were missing wasn't much

People are quick to look for scapegoats . Usually it's Jews who get the blame for everything but in Britain in the early 1980s it was video nasties . There never seemed to be a criminal case appearing in a daily tabloid involving a violent murder that wasn't solely blamed on a video nasty . Very soon the usual suspects of Mary Whitehouse and her acolytes backed up by right wing Tory MPs and the Daily Mail were running around the countryside with pitchforks and flaming torches looking for not only videotapes to burn but the obscene , subhuman degenerates who were selling them . If you're wondering why the police weren't bothered about arresting paedophile BBC personalities or members of parliament in the early 1980s that's because they were down the station getting overtime to slurp coffee while watching a video to see if it matched the criteria as an obscene film . Not only were those films on the banned list being confiscated from video stores but also any title that had a dodgy title like THE BIG RED ONE and APOCALYPSE NOW . Stop laughing at the back because in those days video retailers were being jailed or heavily fined for hiring out films on the banned list . As it turned out due to an oversight the video recordings act of 1983 wasn't actually enshrined in law so it turned out the retailers were jailed or fined illegally

This is a really interesting documentary and a warning what happens when politicians get caught up in hysteria being driven the small but noisy clique in pressure groups and the media . It also gives a window on to the world of the early 1980s . It's also probably the only documentary you will see where QUATERMASS AND THE PIT and video nasty gets mentioned in the same breath !

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