Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide (2010)

Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide (2010)

Static Mass Rating: 3/5

Release Date: Oct 18th, 2010
Certificate: 18
Running Time: 540 minutes

Director: Jake West

Here we have 72 films the Director of Public Prosecutions not only told us not to watch but saw fit to ban them from circulation all together, only served in gaining the titles more notoriety because they became the forbidden fruit in the horror enthusiasts’ eyes.

What began as tabloid newspaper moral panic whipped up by Mary Whitehouse, a campaigner for moral values and decency and fanned by newspapers like the Daily Mail and their infamous “Ban the Sadist Videos” headline ignited into widespread media hysteria over the so-called “Video Nasties”. As there were no age-restrictions on video tapes, anybody could rent them – from children to those considered “weak of mind”.


  • Absurd (1981)
  • Anthropophagous the Beast (1980)
  • Axe (1977)
  • Beast in Heat, The (1976)
  • Blood Bath (1971)
  • Blood Feast (1963)
  • Blood Rites (1967)
  • Bloody Moon (1981)
  • Burning, The (1980)
  • Cannibal Apocalypse (1979)
  • Cannibal Ferox (1981)
  • Cannibal Holocaust (1979)
  • Cannibal Man, The (1971)
  • Devil Hunter, The (1980)
  • Don’t Go in the Woods… Alone! (1980)
  • Driller Killer (1979)
  • Evilspeak (1981)
  • Exposé (1975)
  • Faces of Death (1979)
  • Fight for Your Life (1977)
  • Forest of Fear (1979)
  • Frankenstein (Andy Warhol’s) (1973)
  • Gestapo’s Last Orgy, The (1976)
  • House by the Cemetery, The (1981)
  • House on the Edge of the Park (1980)
  • I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
  • Island of Death (1976)
  • Last House on the Left, The (1972)
  • Love Camp 7 (1968)
  • Madhouse (1981)
  • Mardi Gras Massacre 1978)
  • Night of the Bloody Apes (1968)
  • Night of the Demon (1980)
  • Nightmares in a Damaged Brain (1981)
  • Snuff (1976)
  • SS Experiment Camp (1976)
  • Tenebrae (1982)
  • Werewolf and the Yeti, The (1975)
  • Zombie Flesh-Eaters (1979)

In no time video rental shops, retail outlets like HMV and warehouses across the country were being raided by the police, who sought prosecutions under the Obscene Publications Act – which had previously applied to pornography but now extended to video cassettes that were perceived to have the power to deprave and corrupt (or make morally bad) a significant proportion of their likely audience.

In turn, this meant that juries, often unfamiliar with contemporary horror films, were required to watch ‘splatter’ or ‘stalk and slash’ horror films (the most popular genre of films seized by police forces and subsequently recommended for prosecution by the Director of Public Prosecutions) and decide whether they were ‘obscene’.

Over the next few years a total of 72 films would be added to the Director of Public Prosecutions’ list of banned videos as the successful prosecutions mounted up and these titles were regularly seized as they now had a proven track record for being found obscene. Retailers or distributors were now being fined and, in some cases, jailed for offering such ‘obscene’ articles for gain.

However, successful prosecutions were not always guaranteed as different juries in different parts of the country could either convict or acquit the same work given the quality of the defense or prosecution case or the composition of the juries themselves. A more consistent approach was seemingly needed to avoid the risk of acquittal and to ensure the ‘Video Nasties’ were purged from the land.

Conservative back-bench M.P. Graham Bright introduced a Private Members’ Bill in parliament to attempt to legally regulate the availability of these titles. After the Conservative government of the day actively supported the bill’s passage through parliament, it subsequently passed into law as The Video Recordings Act (1984). With few exceptions, this act now made it illegal for any company to supply a video work for sale or hire without a classification certificate awarded by the designated authority, the British Board of Film Classification.

The 39 titles that were successfully prosecuted in UK courts and deemed liable to deprave and corrupt.

The 33 titles that were initially banned, but then subsequently acquitted and removed from the DPP’s list.

Interviews with filmmakers Neil Marshal, Christopher Smith as well as MP Graham Bright and Geoffrey Robertson QC, as well as rare archive footage featuring James Ferman (director of the BBFC 1975-1999) & Mary Whitehouse.

Many of these works vanished from the streets and for years these works were not legally available. The pre-certification era vanished with the more notorious titles. However, in 2009 someone realised that they failed to notify the European Commission, deeming the Video Recordings Act invalid since its introduction back in 1984!

Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide brings together for the first time the trailers for all 72 films and feature specially filmed intros for each one. It’s a great collection for horror enthusiasts, especially if they’ve been collecting the original titles over the years, but also for anyone who is interested to learn more about the films and how the ban was enforced.

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