Ban the Sadist Videos 2005
A limited run (3,000 copies) of House on Straw Hill includes a bonus disc, and it's an excellent supplement. "Ban the Sadist Videos" is a terrific 2005 documentary about the UK's infamous "Video Nasties" list, and the bizarre censorship laws enacted in the '80s for home video releases.

This feature-length doc opens on the heyday of the home-video era in Britain, when that country boasted more VCRs per capita than any other nation in the world, then details the moral panic instilled by media watchdog pundits like Mary Whitehouse, subsequent police raids on video stores and retailers, and the handover of regulatory duties to the British Board of Film Censors.

DVD5 | NTSC 16:9 | 00:51:25 + 00:42:24 | 4.00 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: none
Genre: Documentary

Director: David Gregory
Cast: Chris Theobald, Norman Abbott, Barrie Gold
Country: UK

"Ban the Sadist Videos!" contains Part 1 and Part 2 of an absolutely fascinating and first rate documentary about the whole phenomenon of British censorship and cultural outrage in the early eighties, which this piece ties in to the conservative leanings of the Thatcher years, as well as to the devastatingly poor British economy, which saw one brief moment of hope when a number of unemployed people found sudden fortune setting up video rental emporiums.

While the first section examines the work of anti-obscenity crusaders like Mary Whitehouse, there's a more overarching look at governmental interference and the completely arbitrary decisions that were often made. That said, the documentary is also stuffed to the gills with little snippets of these so called "video nasties" and some of them are at the very least highly questionable if not downright objectionable. Mixed in with the more traditional elements like lascivious sexual activity and graphic blood and guts are some really offensive material like a bunch of naked "Jews" (men and women, mind you) cavorting with their Nazi captors. Perhaps sometimes censorship isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The second half of the documentary is a much more introspective but perhaps even more disturbing look at one particular case which involved the brutal murder of a little boy by two other very young kids, a murder which was ultimately blamed on a video (sound familiar?). This half of the piece gives a perhaps less abstract accounting of how those who want to censor such fare point to actual real world occurrences like murder, laying the blame for such horrific acts at the feet of the salacious and/or violent content of the films.

• "Censors Working Overtime" (10:46) is a decidedly more whimsical approach to some of the same subjects covered in Ban the Sadist Videos! showing that the wor of the BBFC has not ended.

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