- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: Video Nasties: Draconian Days

Also known as:

Year: 2014

Genre: Documentary

Language: English

Runtime: 97 min

Director: Jake West

Writer: N/A


The follow-up to the 2010 documentary "Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape" about the video nasties era in UK covers the time that came after it where movies were heavily edited under the power of the head of the BBFC at the time, James Ferman.

Our thoughts:
We didn't cover "Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape" because we were not allowed to by UK law... wait, no that's not true. We didn't cover "Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape" simply because there are times when we just enjoy watching movies without reviewing them - and I watched this quite a while after the release. But if you haven't seen that one then I strongly suggest you do, as the video nasties era was an amazing thing to look back at - while shaking your head. This follow-up, "Video Nasties: Draconian Days", focuses on what happened after the original video nasty hysteria - up until 1999.

The front figure to all the extreme form of editing that happened to movies at the time in UK is a man by the name of James Ferman, who was the head of BBFC. He took it upon himself to make sure that sex and violence (and especially sexually violence) was not harming anyone in the country - kids especially. This led to a dictatorship in cinema that resulted in a huge amount of movies being heavily edited, not just cutting out the bad parts but sometimes actually rearranging scenes as seen fit to make them more "acceptable" ("Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" is one of these examples).

The documentary covers the process that went on behind the scenes extensively, but it also goes onto the topic of importing uncut movies, which was one of the more interesting parts to me. There are interviews with people who were in the midst of the importing business, who spent their time locating rare and illegal movies and then selling/trading them by heading out lists of what they had (and sometimes at small conventions of sorts). Of course, many of these got caught at some point, much due to the lists that had been handed out to someone else who had been caught.

When you think about what goes in this documentary it might seem ancient, but truth is that there are still many cases out there today in one form or another. Many countries of lists of banned titles, but there are also smaller examples like when megastores refuse to carry certain titles. On one hand, the latter is okay with me in the same way that I don't mind when horror movie outlets don't carry "My Little Pony". It is up to the store what they want to carry, obviously. The ridiculous part is when it is done to certain movies but not others, simply because of someone making a noise about it. What I'm trying to say is that even though what happened in the UK with the video nasties is messed up, there will always be some sort of censorship to certain things, so I thank the people behind these documentaries not only for covering a very interesting period, but for hopefully making people aware how extreme things can get when anyone "in charge" decides to be out babysitters in art.

"Video Nasties: Draconian Days" is as good as the first part and I highly suggest you watch them both. There are some subjects that might get focused on for a bit too long but it sort of comes with the territory. If a movie played a bigger part in the censoring, then obviously it will be covered more (like "Child's Play 3" which caught a lot of shit after an incident involving kids). Keeping that in mind, this is still a fantastic documentary and one worth owning. The Severin DVD "Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide Part 2" release comes with 3 discs, two which are filled with movie trailers of the movies on the banned list.

Note: No ratings below, as per usual with most documentary reviews.

Positive things:
- The video nasty phenomenon is very interesting.
- Makes us think about what might go on around us still today.
- The passion of those who imported movies.

Negative things:
- Gets stuck on a few subjects/titles at points.

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