The 80’s video boom has become a time of sweet nostalgia for movie fans of a certain age but in the UK it was also a time of moral panic perpetuated by ill-informed politicians and a sensationalist media. ‘The Video Nasties’ witchhunts which led to Britain becoming the most highly censored nation in the western world targeted distributors, store owners and a list of horror movies which were prosecuted as obscene and subsequently banned.
Ban the Sadist Videos, David Gregory’s (Plague Town, Theatre Bizarre) two-part documentary from 2006, tells the full shocking story. It will receive its first official US release as a Limited Edition Bonus DVD in the first 3,000 units of Severin Films’ upcoming release of House on Straw Hill. House on Straw Hill, known in the UK as Expose, was one of the final 39 condemned Video Nasties and remains banned in its uncut form in the UK to this day.
Severin Films partners Gregory and Carl Daft developed their passion for exploitation cinema while growing up in the ‘Nasty’ era in Britain. “There are a couple of really good VHS era documentaries doing the rounds in the US right now but growing up in England we had a very different experience of serious censorial oppression. We thought it might be time to bring out our doc on the period in the US,” says Gregory.
House on Straw Hill, starring Udo Kier (Suspiria, Andy Warhol’s Dracula) and Linda Hayden (Blood on Satan’s Claw), has the honor of being the only British film that made the infamous ‘Video Nasties’ list and the Severin Blu/DVD combo will mark its first official fully uncut release on disc.
“Straw Hill has proved one of the most difficult discs we’ve ever produced due to severely damaged film elements. The master is still not perfect but it’s the only way to see the film uncut in its original aspect ratio. We wanted to give Severin fans something extra to compensate for the imperfect presentation of the feature and the fact that it’s taken so long to get the disc to market. By including what we consider one of our best documentaries to date, which until now has only been released in the UK, seemed like the way to go. We had considered canceling the title on many occasions because it was such a dire situation but we just couldn’t give up on it and we have it to where it’s now acceptable to us, and hopefully to our customers. We also have another very exciting nasties release on the horizon so we want to raise some awareness in the US of that grim time for horror fans in the UK.”
Other extras in the package include “AN ANGEL FOR SATAN – AN INTERVIEW WITH LINDA HAYDEN” and an audio commentary with Director James Kenelm Clarke and Producer Brian Smedley-Aston. And as yet one more additional bonus, those who buy the disc directly from the Severin store will get a strictly limited edition (250) VHS replica of the UK Video Nasty release as Expose!