The Set (5/5)
It feels like Severin Films more than any other DVD distributor has done more to keep the history of the U.K. Video Nasties period in the memories of horror fans. On their limited edition Blu-ray version of the Video Nasty title House on Straw Hill (on the list as Expose), they included a documentary created by the Severin Gang themselves called Ban The Sadist Videos. It was an absolutely fantastic documentary that covered fairly in depth that period in U.K. horror history. Having seen that and the additional features on the Straw Hill set I thought I was squared away with my Video Nasty knowledge.
However, a few months later Severin imported the Nucleus Films release Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide. That set included a wonderful documentary by Jake West entitled Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship, and Videotape. It also contained 2 DVD's worth of trailers for the banned Nasties with introductions and insights by a variety of sources. This amounted to over 12 hours of Video Nasty information in one package, surely that would cover anything one would need to know. It is not even a year later, and Severin have imported Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide Part 2. A release that is just as essential as the first, and the first was one of the highlights of horror DVD releases in 2014, which makes this an early contender for the best of 2015. Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide Part 2 is set up much like the previous set with a Jake West documentary this one entitled Video Nasties: Draconian Days, and 2 more DVD's of trailers.
There is that saying that no sequel is better than the original, and although it could be disputed that this is a documentary and trailer set I have found Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide 2 a much more satisfying experience on the whole then the first. The documentary by West, Draconian Days takes footage which appears to have been shot during the sessions for the first documentary, coupled with new and archival footage to create a narrative around the rise of James Ferman as head of the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification). This narrative is then used as a springboard, to tell more personal stories that affected people during the Nasties era. We then comes to the trailers, which are made up 82 titles that were not outright banned, but on a list known as section 3, that from what I understand were able to be seized by local authorities should they see fit. The trailers that make up discs 2 and 3 of this set include an option to watch with or without introductions, which like the original set offer a great amount of detail into the background of each film, and their place in the Nasties era. Even though you can watch the trailers alone, I highly recommend in the context of the set to watch them with the introductions which are fascinating and totally engrossing on their own, and really help give the set it’s value to horror fans.
A set like this sort of hard to put an A/V score on. The documentary is 1:78:1 anamorphic, and looks quite good with the new footage standing out, and the archival footage looking essentially like what it is. The trailers, of course, vary, but that is to be expected. The soundtrack is mono in English, and sounds perfectly suitable for the material with dialogue coming through clearly.
The DVD set comes with a series of still galleries that show off fanzines, and video cover art. Of course, with a release this epic just having the minor amount of extras that are present is an added bonus.
Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide was one of the spotlight releases of 2014's release slate, and Part 2 looks to be an early contender for one of the best releases of 2015. The documentary is insightful, as are the trailers with their introductions. The A/V is passable, but that is to be expected with a release of this nature, and it comes of course HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.