Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape Reviews

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February 20, 2015
Fascinating but ultra compressed political tale of censorship in the media. It's all talking heads but it's actually very interesting.
½ July 11, 2014
Great documentary on the worrying and bizarre tenuous links British media made between movies and violent culture.
"Art can't be controlled by the tastebuds of the lunatics"
Super Reviewer
May 30, 2014
A definitive look at a recent history of moral panic that when analysed is a political scandal. Whilst hit and miss is directorial quality, the subject coverage and access to key players makes this a very worthy watch for horror fans and anyone that experienced this era.
½ February 14, 2014
Last House On The Left didn't make me want to kill someone. I did need a hug after and then a shower and a nap for a couple of hour. Also all documents should be a little over an hour. now seeing I just saw a few scene from Last House On The Left I will need to repeat all the above.
January 27, 2014
Man alive, it's freaky to think that this would happen in a decade known for its levels of excess, but I suppose that Britain will always have a certain stuffy tone that it can't escape.

Crazy, ill-advised reactions to things that were pretty much non-issues until someone made them into big news.

Recommended.
½ May 9, 2013
Absolutely fascinating and in-depth analysis on the moral panic that ensued 1980s Britain, exposing the narrow-mindedness, ludicrous hysteria, and hypocrisy behind the 'video nasties' scare. 'Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape' examines the false pretenses and fraudulent journalistic and researcher materials that helped get the Video Recording Act 1984 legislation enacted. This is a very important documentary that everyone should see whether or not they're a horror fan. It's not just about silly, rubbish horror films being prosecuted, it's about censorship being pushed through unjustly. It's about the erosion of civil liberties. About how these films could explain any forms of crime and every evil in society. It's about power and control. It's about when Britain was verging on fascism.
America did it in the 50s with the EC horror comics. I just hope we've all grown up now.
½ May 9, 2013
Absolutely fascinating and in-depth analysis on the moral panic that ensued 1980s Britain, exposing the narrow-mindedness, ludicrous hysteria, and hypocrisy behind the 'video nasties' scare. 'Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape' examines the false pretenses and fraudulent journalistic and researcher materials that helped get the Video Recording Act 1984 legislation enacted. This is a very important documentary that everyone should see whether or not they're a horror fan. It's not just about silly, rubbish horror films being prosecuted, it's about censorship being pushed through unjustly. It's about the erosion of civil liberties. About how these films could explain any forms of crime and every evil in society. It's about power and control. It's about when Britain was verging on fascism.
America did it in the 50s with the EC horror comics. I just hope we've all grown up now.
September 9, 2012
Great premise for a documentry.Fantasic story about the contoversy surroundind the video nasties act of the early 80's.Perhaps the story could have been told in a more ground breaking way but none the less kept me entertained for the whole time.
½ September 2, 2012
An in-depth, eye opening look at the witch-hunt of horror movies during the early 80's in England. Some of it made me laugh (horror films affect not only children but dogs too, apparently) and some of it just made me disgusted with the governments insane ideas to control the masses. Overall a comprehensive look at this controversial period of injustice to the horror genre. And Martin Barker is my new hero, God bless him.
March 19, 2012
A great doc, a must for any fans of the grisly side of the horror genre. It's handled with a tongue in cheek tone that shows the ridiculousness of the situation. Like the police seizing The Big Red One & The Best Little Whore House In Texas for being pornographic is the tip of the iceberg.
December 8, 2011
Brilliant doc about the video nasties moral panic. Well worth a watch.

Second viewing, still awesome. I mean, it's CLEARLY been made with an agenda, but it is cracking.
November 8, 2011
"Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape " is a partisan film that sets out to show that the furore over sleazy gore movies in the 1980s bioled down to dishonest, ill-informed and power-hungry Conservatives and Evangelicals trying to deprive a generation of youngsters from what everybody today considers good, clean fun, i.e. the repeated watching of mutilations, tortures and bloody deaths.

The film does document some irregularities in the case against video nasties. For instance, according to a statistic that was widely repeated in the media, 40% of Britain's six-year-olds had seen at least one of them. It turns out that out of a meager 47 respondents, 3 claimed to have seen a total of 17 such films, and that the figure was arrived at by dividing 47 by 17! Moreover, an independent researcher later showed that about two-thirds of children would claim to have seen films that did not even exist.

Also embarrassing for the prosecutors, they mistakenly believed that some of the films were actually snuff, i.e. involved real deaths. Actually, if animals were indeed abused for some of these films (which used real entrails and blood), virtually all of the scenes involved (sometimes laughably bad) special effects. What the makers of the documentary failed to admit, though, was that the series "Faces of Death" did include actual human and animal deaths and mutilations, though none of those had been perpetrated by the filmmakers themselves, who merely recycled stock clips.

Though those criticisms are valid, the documentary is heavily slanted against the repressive position. Before the screening on the Horror Channel, both the director and the producer laughed heartily after using the phrase "moral corruption", which somehow seemed silly to them, and warned viewers that they would be morally corrupted by the documentary itself, because it includes many of the most outrageous scenes from the banned movies (including a montage of the whole list to the sound of hard rock "music".)

Some of the arguments against censorship were very weak. At one point, the most articulate defender of the genre recalls a policeman blaming a pony murder spree on "video nasties of the full moon", which allegedly showed that the phenomenon had become a meaningless, all-purpose explanation. But that is a straw-man. Just because one policeman invoked video nasties in this way does not mean that the whole case against them is of that nature. Of course, at the time, little research was available since the phenomenon was entirely new. But several murders and acts of violence were allegedly traced to the influence of those films, and it would have been interesting to see how strong the case was.

Moreover, the film does not interview a single psychologist or psychiatrist, so that much of the argument is developed by horror movie makers and reviewers (all of them nostalgic about the era, though they have moved to stronger stuff, such as "A Serbian Film"), rather than experts on the causes of violence. My own readings (including especially a recent compilation of hundreds of studies on television by Michel Desmurgers) have convinced me that there is a strong case against modern visual media, irrespective of content, and all the more so when the content is either pornographic or extremely violent.

As a former fan of horror films, who managed to see only six of the original seventy-two listed video nasties (mostly because I already cared about artistic quality, and most of those films were appalingly mediocre), and a convert to a strongly traditional form of Catholicism, I have seen both sides of the issue. I can say that horror movies one the whole have been a bad influence on me, though of course even when one is the subject, it is hard to identify causal relations. I remember trying to imagine even more gory deaths than Argento had in "Suspiria", or getting in touch with very nasty fantasies under the influence of "Hellraiser". I believe the panic attacks I suffered later in my late twenties and early thirties were also partly attributable to the horrors I had watched as a teen. And I know personally a few people who have been much more involved in gore than I have and are personally very troubled (being medicated for psychological problems or having become substance abusers.) A friend of mine who told me "Hellraiser" had made her feel weird was institutionalised for three months within a year. This is all anecdotal, but worth investigating.

That we are now producing films that are much more horrid than the video nasties of the eighties, and that they are available to all through the Internet is also no argument. By the same logic, the gonzo pornography of today would exculpate the less extreme films of the seventies.

I wish a more balanced documentary had been produced, one which did not try deliberately to shock its audience with the goriest bits of the banned films, and which did draw on modern research on the influence of film violence on human beings, instead of turning into a paean to freedom of speech irrespective of social consequences.
August 12, 2011
Disturbingly insightful look into the video nasties of the 80s, only complaint is the fact Emily Booth occasionally shows up, obviously reading from a prompt screen, seriously, experts and fans only! Great documentary and collection of trailers of the 72 naaaaasty movies!
shitfaced8
Super Reviewer
June 22, 2011
A good doc about the video nasties scare in Britain spear headed by the miserable cunt Mary Whitehouse and her cronies, goons, minions.... whatever. Basically the scare was that movies like Cannibal Holocaust, Last House on the Left, Evil Dead, I Spit on Your Grave, Driller Killer etc, were going to corrupt the morals of the youth (and their dogs) and so these movies had to be swiftly censored, banned and outlawed. It was intresting hearing the story of exactly how they managed to get such a bill passed, and the people responsible for doing so definently come off like a bunch of arrogant, clowns. some of the talking heads in this movie argues that the real point of the video nasty scare was more about control than morals or anything of that ilk, and I do tend to agree with this argument. The reality is independent film was booming for a short period of time, as it was easier to manufacture and distribute films outside of the television networks and cinemas that existed before that. The short period before the video nasty square were akin to a wild west for independent and underground film, and finally films that challenged certain taboos were readily available, unregulated and making pretty good business on top of that. Something clearly needed to be done to get the huge film industry suits back in control. It's scary to see how easy it is to manipulate people and get them to go along with one of the stupidest cases of censorship and control of media in the sadly, far too huge steaming shit pile that happened before this case and even goes on today. Keep in mind that Murder Set Pieces, Groteque, A Serbian Film and Human Centipede 2 have all been banned or heavily censored in the UK within the past 10 years. An important watch for those opposed to censorship laws, and champions of free speech and expression.
May 31, 2011
Funny how such horrific images in the nasties could make people BELIEVE that what they were watching was real. No doubt about it that these films are disgusting, filthy and of poor taste...BUT they don't taint you unless you're mentally corrupt to begin with. In that case, YOU'LL LOVE THESE FILMS!

I think many of them are crap. The kind of crap you can watch while laughing your brains out. They are essential to the horror world. No question about it, but there are some that are just pointless.

Having said that doesn't mean I would never see anything so pointless again. Let's face it. When you've seen one zombie film, you'll want to see them all. Pulling these films off their shelves to protect children from being corrupt is a nice way to look out for the kiddies, but it isn't fair to the young adults and older adults who do want to see these films. I mean just look at the trashy cover art to some them and you'll be wanting to rent or buy it. That is unless you are another Mary Whitehouse who wants to ban these ridiculously sick films.

In '79 when the VHS and Beta wars were happening, VHS would be the topper. One problem though was the quality of VHS. It provided a grainy, sometimes blurry, look to the video nasties. This kind of viewing experience would instantly make any viewer feel uncomfortable because it gives the impression that it's of a snuff-like film. Now people at the time have never seen such cruelty in films. Hammer Horror gave viewers a taste so to speak of the kind of things that would soon come later. Boy, the things that would come later would make films like 'Horror of Dracula' or 'Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed' look like Bambi. The excessive violence, sex, rape, torture, mutilation, necrophilia, cannbalism and so forth would be too much, but was it too soon? Maybe so since the Brits were starting to feel queasy at how disturbing the quality the films were at that time.

Nowadays, it's no big deal. I mean it still is, but people have grown to tolerate such disturbing films. It is true that the masses do get tired of blood and guts. Some do rally and some do ban, but the genre of horror will always exist even when a need for horror dies out because people always get tired of one thing. Comedies can fill the void of laughter, Action fills the void of excitement and Horror fills the void of just wanting to see things that we've never seen before.

So in defending the nasties is one thing, getting rid of them is another. One thing is for sure and that is there will never be anything more hardcore than the Video Nasties. Yeah there's Torture Porn, but that stuff is too well made. The sleek and digital look to those films are nothing compared to the grainy old school style of the NASTIES!
½ May 29, 2011
Fantastic documentary that reveals that the true motives of the censors isn't to protect the public, but rather to exert control.
½ April 20, 2011
The most comprehensive work I've seen on the "Video Nasty" storm opens with what can only be described as a smash-up of selected highlights from the 72 horror films singled out as obscene by the Department of Public Prosecutions at the beginning of the 1980s: a morbid carnival of blood and nipples, these all - even the ones you know would be/are rubbish in their 90-minute form - look tremendous... Crucial martyrs and heroes are identified - individuals such as Martin Barker, the academic who made the first (and, for a long while, only) public defence of the films against unnecessary censorship, and David Hamilton-Grant, the distributor who was sentenced to an 18-month jail term for allowing an extra 48 seconds into the release cut of "Nightmares in a Damaged Brain" - and it builds to a great punchline, gleefully recounted by the critic Kim Newman, about the legal status of the Video Recordings Act this panic ultimately brought about. One niggle: the majority of interviews are shot in [writer-producer Marc] Morris's study (or, perhaps better, his lair), which features wall upon wall of boxy, long-unavailable VHSes; it's sometimes hard to concentrate on the testimony being given when your eyes are busy scouring the racks for those rare copies of "Gestapo's Last Orgy", "Adventures of a Super Stud" or "The 7th Dwarf" - but then I guess that's exactly the film's libertarian thrust.
Super Reviewer
½ April 9, 2011
Brilliant documentary about the Video Nasties era of the 80's. In mid-80's Britain, when Margaret Thatcher was priminister and there was a recession n stuff, the goverment became a bit like a dictatorship and because crime levels were rising due to people having no money the only thing they could think to blame it on was the current wave of horror movies being available to rent in local video shops. Alot of these films were pretty shit B-movies with lots of blood, bad acting and little plot to speak of but because of the gore and violence the goverment decided this was causing moral panic up and down the country, infecting the youth, making people steal and mug people so banned them all.
Featuring contributions from various horror film makers who grew up watching them along with academics and film journalists and politicians for and against the censors, this is a very interesting documentary that makes you think about how corrupt and power hungry this goverment was and if these movies really could be an influence on the woes of society back then. The most reasonable answer you get from watching this is a big fat fucking NO!
The DVD is brilliant as its a three disc affair and shows all the trailers from the films that were banned and stayed on the list for years and the ones that were eventually removed. You can choose to watch these with intoductions from the various experts mentioned above or without, which is a cool thing as they go on for ages. Altogether, the doc, all the trailers and a montage of all the old title logs for the dodgy 80's distribution companies last for over 13 hours! I paid 20 pounds so its definate value for money.
Essential viewing for any film fan.
½ April 8, 2011
Well made and informative documentary. The DVD comes with two extra disks that has good trailers. loads of clips from the so called nasties, plus brilliant full reviews for each of the 72 infamous titles. This is a must have for every extreme horror enthusiast.
½ March 16, 2011
This one is in the works. It's taking a while as it's 13 hours long.
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