The Set (5/5)
Severin Films has done quite a bit in regards to releasing some of the more obscure films on the video nasties list. In the next few weeks they will be releasing a pair of Nazisploitation numbers from the list of 72 banned titles The Gestapo's Last Orgy and Deported Women of the SS. Prior to that they released the banned Jess Franco titles, Bloody Moon and Devil Hunter on DVD, the former of which will be making it's Blu-ray debut via Severin in July 2014. Late in 2013 they released another documented nasty the Udo Kier starring House on Straw Hill. If you were one of the lucky first 3000 buyers of that particular title, you were also given a copy of a documentary produced by the Severin Films gang (before they were Severin) called Ban The Sadist Videos! That documentary was a fascinating look at the Video Nasties era in the U.K., if that wasn't enough they have now acquired the rights to the Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide 3 disc collection, and cleared it for release in Region 1 land.
I will be completely straightforward, and admit I never got around to importing the Region 2 set from the U.K., so this set was a completely wonderful surprise when I got around to watching it over the last week (it's epic, don't expect to watch it all in one go). Now that I have seen it I will qualify as very possibly my favorite release of the year thus far. It combines two things I'm crazy about documentaries about film, and trailer compilations, and the trailer compilation portion goes into a rather interesting direction that I quite enjoyed.
The first disc of the set contains the Jake West directed documentary Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship, and Videotape. This documentary much like the aforementioned Ban The Sadist Videos! chronicles the Video Nasties era from the beginning, using a mix of modern (for the time it was shot) interviews, and archival footage. It interviews both government officials involved in the legislative process who worked to ban the titles on the list, and also footage of people like the infamous Mary Whitehouse who worked outside of the government to ban the films. We also, have the perspective of film journalists, video store owners, and other people who fell on the other side of the issue. West’ documentary is a interesting look at that era, and while there is overlap between the two documentaries they work really well as companion pieces for those fascinated by this era in horror history.
Disc 2 and 3 of the set are compromised of trailers for the 72 films on the Video Nasty list. The second disc is compromised of 39 titles that were banned because of their ability to corrupt. The 33 remaining titles on the third disc were banned at the beginning of the Nasties craze, but were then acquitted and were able to be re-released. Severin Films have included 2 options for viewing depending on your preference. You can watch the trailers as a simple trailer show, which will certainly make for a fun, entertaining evening. You can also watch them with filmed introductions by film journalist, historians, and fans of the films ranging from Emily Booth, Stephen Thrower, Kim Newman, and more. These segments were absolutely fascinating and gave insight into each film, both from the perspective of a Video Nasty, and into the stand alone film itself. Some of the intros were quite short, while others were very long. They were for the most part quite informative, and an absolute delight to watch.
Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide is not exactly the sort of title you put an A/V grade on. The Jake West documentary, and the intro segments look and sound fine, but the archival footage within the documentary, and of course the trailers themselves vary. This, of course, is to be expected.
There really isn't an extras to speak of, as the contents themselves are so all encompassing that extra features would not be required.
Severin Films Region 1 release of Video Nasties the Definitive Guide is one of the highlights of 2014's release schedule. If you are a fan of extreme horror, and want to know more about this era in horror censorship it is essentially a must own. On a slightly related note, more and more films are being released on DVD and Blu-ray in the U.K. uncut or with very little uncut in recent times. Last night Arrow Video in the U.K. announced Jorg Buttgereit's Nekromantik for Blu-ray release in the U.K. for summer 2014, if you want definitive proof that this era has passed, than that is truly evidence to support it.