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5.0 out of 5 stars Moral Panic: The Sequel!, 14 July 2014
This review is from: Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide 2 Limited Edition of 6,666 [DVD] (DVD)
Every good horror movie gets a sequel! And after the horrific tale of how shamelessly self-serving politicians and tabloid hacks foisted a moral panic on the British people with the Video Nasties scare, we now have part two! Like any bad horror movie sequel, the same old villains are up to the same old tricks and nearly get away with it once again – ‘Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide Part 2 – Draconian Days’ tells all.

To recap, in 1984 the Video Recordings Act (VRA) was enacted and all videos released in the UK had to be certificated by the British Board of Film Censors…er, I mean Classification (BBFC). This led to the most restrictive censorship imposed on videos in any Western Democracy. All this is told in grim detail in the preceding documentary “Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide”. Surely that’s the end of the story? Well no, as this second documentary from Jake West and Marc Morris reveals, another moral panic ensued in the early nineties following the tragic death of Jamie Bulger. Once again, ‘video nasties’ are blamed (despite all having been removed and censored under the aforementioned law). This time the villain of the piece is Liberal David Alton, replacing the Tory Graham Bright, who exploits the public wave of sympathy and dismay at the crime by seeking to pass a second wave of Draconian video legislation that would have effectively banned all films above a PG rating from British homes. Cue footage of the outraged torching copies of the dull and ineffectual horror film ‘Child’s Play 3’, which become the official scapegoat despite never having been seen by the boys involved.

The documentary expertly tells this strange tale in a gripping narrative without resorting to voice over to carry the viewer along –the events all speak starkly for themselves. Archive footage reminds us of the arrogance and opportunism of the media, not just the inevitable tabloids in search of cheap sensationalism, but from the mainstream media blithely shouting done the ‘perverts and freaks’ who dared to say they quite liked horror films and didn’t see why they couldn’t just watch them. The film even provides us with an unlikely hero who saves the day –I won’t spoil his identity for those who don’t remember, but it is a twist worthy of a good drama.

Along with this tale, we also see into the underworld of the nineties horror fan, who post-VRA found themselves having to clandestinely smuggle and trade horror videos in a manner resembling illicit drug dealers. Those of us old enough to remember sitting through fourth-generation dupes of films that can now be bought uncut legally on Amazon will watch with a strange nostalgia.

Also included are two additional discs with nine hours –yes, nine hours- of trailers for films that fell foul of the law along with humorous and insightful analyses from genre experts such as Alan Jones, Kim Newman and Stephen Thrower. Most of the best trailers were contained on the bonus discs for the previous documentary, which captured those prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act. These ‘Section 3’ films (liable for confiscation and destruction without prosecution) are a more obscure and mixed bag for the most part, but the analyses are always of interest and I certainly discovered a few new oddities that will become required viewing. Not least of which is the stunning ‘Naked Fist’, a Bruce Lee-style Kung Fu picture with the lead taken by a topless woman martial arts expert.

The documentary is fascinating viewing, not just for the nostalgic horror fan, but for all with an interest in films and society. For those interested in social issues, it’s a great demonstration of how a moral panic functions and you can have fun comparing the techniques used to our treatment of contemporary fears. The bonus discs are less of interest to the casual fan, but for the horror devotee are an interesting wander through the stranger avenues of the genre. I watched all nine hours in one demented day. Others may prefer to dip in to these supplements in a more leisurely manner.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Jul 2014 19:39:32 BDT
nodz says:
brilliant review

Posted on 22 Sep 2014 16:42:33 BDT
Nice one, m8.
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