The Guild Home Video VHS Catalogues

A pair of VHS catalogues from one of the more prolific indie distributors of the 1980s.

Guild Home Video was one of the earliest labels to emerge in the UK during the initial home video boom and ultimately one of the most successful indies. Unlike many of its rivals, it managed to get through the trials and tribulations of the Video Nasty era almost unscathed – while the label’s release of Foxy Brown was subject to some police attention, it never resulted in actual prosecution. Guild always seemed a little tame and unadventurous compared to other labels but that was probably its saving grace in the end – in the wild west of pre-cert video, Guild Home Video always seemed respectable and inoffensive.

The Peterborough-based label launched its first collection in mid-1980 and would go on to be a prolific distributor, initially releasing archive titles in common with other labels before it started to pick up the rights to new films that had only just played cinemas – one of the labels first big successes was with the home video release of David Cronenberg‘s Scanners. Guild tended to avoid sensationalism on their covers – one reason why they didn’t attract as much unwelcome attention – and also tended to be more mainstream in their film titles, mostly focusing on American and British feature films alongside a lot of TV movies. The films would feature both BBFC ratings and US film ratings – the latter primarily but not exclusively for titles that had not been released theatrically in the UK – which might have seemed confusing for customers unfamiliar with the PG and the R rating. This, of course, would end by 1985 when video censorship made BBFC video certificates mandatory.

By the mid-1980s, Guild had exclusive distribution deals with production companies like Cannon, Lorimar, Carolco, Marvel, Orion and Samuel Goldwyn, ensuring a steady schedule of high-profile releases, making it one of the most successful UK independent distributors out there. The company also had a hand in the first sell-through video label, The Video Collection, which was initially exclusive to Woolworth and carried several former Guild releases including Straw Dogs, even though that film had not been granted a BBFC certificate – the release came at the end of the period when unrated films could legally be sold and it was quickly withdrawn once the Video Recordings Act came fully into force.

Guild merged with Pathé in 1996 to form Guild Pathé Cinema Limited and the name was finally retired in 1998 when the company became Pathé Distribution.

The glory days of Guild remain the 1980s when the company – against all odds – managed to outlive most of its rivals. These two catalogues both come from the early 1980s and give a good idea of the varied output from the label.

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