A few years back, Nucleus Films made some noise in the European gen­re home video mar­ket with a release enti­tled Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide.  Not only did it deliv­er a defin­i­tive doc­u­men­tary on the U.K.‘s “Video Nasties” furore of the ear­ly ‘80s but also includ­ed trail­ers for all 72 films that made the offi­cial video nas­ties lists AND com­men­tary on the­se films from a vari­ety of U.K. gen­re experts and scen­esters.  American hor­ror fans will be hap­py to hear that Severin Films just gave this triple-disc set a domes­tic release — and those hor­ror fans will find it to be a cause for cel­e­bra­tion.

VideoNas-dvdThe first disc con­tains a 72-min­ute doc­u­men­tary enti­tled Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship And Videotape (to read Schlockmania’s full review of this film, click here).  The trans­fer of this dig­i­tal­ly shot piece is anamor­phic.  It’s also inter­laced but this is not a big issue as the film incor­po­rates film and video footage of vary­ing qual­i­ty and the result­ing “rough and ready” look reg­is­ters just fine.

Also includ­ed on the first disc is an hour-long (!) reel of video label intros from the com­pa­nies that released hor­ror titles in the U.K. dur­ing the 1980’s.  The visu­als include every­thing from cheap video-toast­er let­ter­ing to full ani­ma­tion and music that cov­ers the gamut from syn­th doo­dles to orches­trat­ed music-library fan­fares. It’s the VHS fiend’s equiv­a­lent of a “video fire­place,” deliv­er­ing the same kind of hyp­notic video wall­pa­per for that spe­cial­ized audi­ence.

Disc two is devot­ed to trail­ers for the 39 films that com­prised the final­ized “Video Nasties” list.  Having a disc of trail­ers for The Burning, Evilspeak and Zombie is cool enough but the pro­duc­ers of this set also filmed a series of intros for each film by the same gen­re pros inter­viewed in the Video Nasties doc­u­men­tary.  Sometimes the com­men­tary deliv­ers some unex­pect­ed seri­ous insights: for exam­ple, Xavier Mendik deliv­ers some amaz­ing, schol­ar­ly analy­ses of I Spit On Your Grave and House On The Edge Of The Park that draw out a lev­el of intel­lec­tu­al depth from films that are often con­sid­ered mind­less shock­ers.

TheVideoNas-04re are also some per­son­al, often fun­ny insights includ­ed into the mix: Kim Newman offers some fond mus­ings about the role Last House On The Left played in his career as a crit­ic while Alan Jones tells a short but hilar­i­ous anec­dote about the first time he met Lucio Fulci in his intro to Zombie.  The pro­duc­ers also make a wor­thy attempt to pair up experts with the film­mak­ers they study: for instance, Abel Ferrara biog­ra­pher Brad Stevens does the hon­ors for Driller Killer while an array of Jesus Franco titles are given thought­ful intros by Stephen Thrower, who does a good job of explain­ing this con­tro­ver­sial director’s eso­ter­ic appeal.

The third disc cov­ers an addi­tion­al 33 titles that appeared on ear­lier ver­sions of the video nas­ties list but were either dropped or suc­cess­ful­ly defend­ed in court.  Again, it’s a fun and diverse col­lec­tion of shock­ers like The Beyond, The Funhouse and Visiting Hours and every­thing gets an in-depth intro from the documentary’s cir­cle of experts.  A new wrin­kle includ­ed here is that the intros reveal why the film was dropped from the list, the best exam­ple of this being an extend­ed intro for The Evil Dead where Kim Newman’s obser­va­tions reveal how the film was a cru­cial case that showed it was pos­si­ble to defend a video nasty in court (Patricia MacCormack also offers an inter­est­ing aes­thet­ic read­ing of the film).VideoNas-05

And there’s more high­lights to be found in the intros on the third disc: high­lights include Marc Morris offer­ing an inter­est­ing bit of research on the sev­er­al pos­si­ble direc­tors who might have helmed the obscure Cannibal Terror and Thrower offer­ing an impas­sioned defense of Don’t Go In The House.  MacCormack also does won­ders with an unex­pect­ed choice when she dis­cuss­es Boogeyman II as a cri­tique of the film busi­ness.

In short, Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide is a can’t-miss propo­si­tion for a seri­ous fan of horror’s grind­house side.  It deliv­ers a great doc­u­men­tary, hours of trail­ers and even more hours of com­men­tary that will both edu­cate and enter­tain.  It’s worth not­ing that you can watch the trail­er discs with or with­out the intros, with the lat­ter option giv­ing you max­i­mum “par­ty tape” playa­bil­i­ty.  To fur­ther sweet­en the pot, the pro­duc­ers also uncov­ered some tru­ly rare trail­ers, like I Miss You Hugs & Kisses, Love Camp 7 and The Witch Who Came From The Sea.  It’s well worth the cheap admis­sion price and a neces­si­ty for the shock-hor­ror scholar’s DVD shelf.

NastiesTrailer from Severin Films on Vimeo.