Sunday, 1 April 2012

Films, controversy and the BBFC - Best of enemies Upd 05/04/12

There were a few things I wasn't happy with and decided to tinker somewhat with numerous additions and a totally new final thought.  The content remains largely unchanged (hence no * like film headings) and is just altered slightly.

So regardless, I am indebted to those who take the time to have a butchers.

Controversy in films is far more prickly than a desert full of cactai.

The public care much more and attracts more complaints than nudity after the 9pm watershed.

The 'harm' test has to be passed and everything else must be as fit and snug as a bug in certain rug for that category.

There were numerous cases (especially in the 70s) when films were banned for years and years, released cut and then later, uncut.

Torture, humiliation and terrorisation are the buzz words the BBFC tend to cite as excuses.

Of course the principle in games remains as if a work has been rejected a certificate, the distribution of it is illegal.  There is of course an appeal process.

As a treat, there would be a work that regardless with whatever amount of cuts applied, and while UK law remains the way it is - it will never be granted legality due its content.

So that even supersedes Manhunt 2 for its appalling premise.

What would that be?  More, much later.

So to narrow things down, when a cinema or DVD work is submitted - there are many possibilities:

  1. Rejected.
  2. Rejected work is resubmitted with cuts and still rejected.
  3. Rejected work is again resubmitted but passed with agreed cuts
  4. Passed with no cuts and certified.
  5. Passed with forced cuts to get a rating but not to the distributors liking
So that's when considering all that, most are self-explanatory but 5?

1-3 will naturally fall mainly with horror and similar hugely controversial stuff but the fifth possibility is less straightforward?  Yes, No?

Obviously, the distributor will take a work passed with no cuts 99.9% of the time but when it thinks the work is worthy of a certain certificate but actually falls under a different rating, that's maybe when the VAC's line becomes engaged...

Imagine a situation where it's definitely a 12, 15 or whatever but there's one scene that falls under a higher category which forces it to be classified with that rating, even though all the other content is extremely acceptable for a lower rating.

I've always found this to be a very odd one and great example to further explain the above.  The Goonies is an 80s classic etc etc but that has a 12 rating.  Not for any other content but because, I quote "contains hanging scene".

I really didn't get that as its so brief, blink and you'll miss it job.  It's done in the absolute mildest sense but as a distraction, right at the beginning of the film.  Surely the only reason for it is because it's depicting a potential act of suicide.  So if they'd have bothered and cut this scene, it would definitely be a PG.

Okay, the VAC is mainly there to overturn a rejected work but why not appeal against the decision of a work passed as 18 but distributors really wanted a 15, or whatever rating.  This would work vice versa too.

Remember Dracula on C64, as CRL wanted an '18' certificate and was disappointed when it was only given a '15'.  No pleasing some hey?

A local council has the power to reclassify a cinema release if there is enough muscle to say for this city, it shouldn't have that BBFC certificate.  This is of course because the council believes that the BBFC had a moment in rating it too high, or even rated it too low.

That sounds mad right but that's the power that politicians possess, but of course there would have to be huge backing for this to happen.

So to explain an example, Spiderman came out in Hull and was given a BBFC rating of 12.  No cuts and not a very violent film at all, in fact - suitable for many under 12.  But there was to be fuss.

There was one scene when the green goblin was impaled by his own spiked flying assist which displayed sights of blood and violence.  Bingo - that's the 12 certificate explained folks.

This annoyed most as Spiderman is supposed to be for kids.  Yes, I'd agree too.

So the jungle drums were banged and those reclassifying powers were exercised and the council successfully lowered the film to a PG certificate.

People power wins and councillors get a pat on the back.

Of course in another city, the 12 rating would stand as originally intended, as it would when released on DVD.  I know it's ancient in comparison now but the principle remains true. 
For every work submitted to the BBFC, there are guidelines under what category that work must fall under.

Aside from full-blown porn (R18), this presents a dilemma for those suits and whatever they decide, they may upset, annoy and anger many and most so they've got to careful as they wouldn't want the negative media coverage.  Or would they?

The decisions made sometimes are questionable but that's life I suppose but nowadays, classification has been relaxed somewhat.  I mean, films that are 15 would have been definitely rated 18 a good few years ago.

But a double-edged sword as more money is going to made from a 12 or 15, than an 18 at cinema right?

This is reflected due to the influx of 15's as opposed to 18's but I'll stand by the opinion of creating a 12A certificate was definitely the worst idea ever.

Oh, in the mad world of the BBFC, a video and film is the classification of the cinema release and DVD respectively.

The 70s would be host to quite a few banned works and video nasties would be born and also die in the 80s.

Let's delve into the past, recent history and future present and let the silver screen controversy begin.

The Trip in 1967, was banned due to glorifying LSD.  It follows a man who takes LSD when experiencing the divorce of his wife who 'put herself about'.  During his 'trip', he hallucinates various images while entering establishments and the homes of strangers.

He gets lucky when he meets a woman who finds people who take LSD interesting and a bit of how's yer' father takes place.

It was a cult film and wasn't released in Britain until 2002.

Wes Craven's debut would cause an amazing mountain of fuss.  The Last House on the Left famously follows young women who are forced to carry out humiliating acts and raped by escaped convicts and those convicts turn up at their parents house.  When the daughter reveals their identity, the parents exact revenge...

It was inspired by The Virgin Spring, a 1960 Swedish film by Ingbar Bergman.  That was also based on a Swedish folk ballad.

It was released in 1972 and was refused a certificate in 1974.

Here goes, it was released uncut on VHS until 1982 as back then, things were unregulated but was banned when video nasty scene began, which also led to the creation of the VRA in 84.

It remained banned until 2000, when it presented again for a certificate was again rejected.  In 2002 the BBFC agreed to give it an '18' rating but only if its distributor Blue Underground applied cuts.

Subsequently they refused so after 30 years, we could actually see it (albeit in a cut form) but no cigar.

The VAC was turned to but they upheld the BBFC's decision.  The appeal also was supported by a horror expert's report (Mark Kermode) to state its historical importance.

Thanks for nothing Mr Kermode as after your report, the BBFC decided to double the amount of cuts required for a certificate.

But in 2002, with further cuts, it was given a certificate and released on DVD in 2003.  Fast forward 6 years later and we finally had the fully uncut version in the UK.

In Saw II, Jigsaw references it when agreeing to take Det. Eric Matthews to where his son has been kept.  While guiding him, he states "It's the last house on the left."  Many still might not get that.

The famous and clever marketing campaign stated, "repeat to yourself.... it's only a movie.... it's only a movie."

This succeeded in cranking up the suitable shockometer and was hyped to be that terrifying, a free psychological scar was included in the ticket price and its audience it would faint like a set of queasy dominoes.

So as controversial as they come, but while historically important, not the best.  In 2009, it was remade and released uncut.  Wow!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in my opinion is up there with one been one of the most famous movies of all time.  Its name and tagline is genius and my controversy candle is lit.

Its content was violence and not rape like Last House so its assumed that it's about a massacre, taking place in Texas involving a chainsaw.  Of course those elements exist, but the violence is very clever as its inferred and never really shown in an extremely graphic and gratuitous sense.

You'd assume that it's just an endless in yer' face gory chainsaw mutilation spree.  Not really!

The film's plot is entirely fictional but was loosely inspired and based around the murders by serial killer Ed Gein who exhumed bodies and kept bones and body parts as trophies.

It follows a group of friends who unfortunately stumble upon the home of a family of cannibals.  This of course included the film's famous antagonist - Leatherface and his trusty bladed weapon.

In truth, the chainsaw is seen but not really seen used to dish out death but that's the genius behind the violence as other ways are instead used.  The hulking lunatic is so-called as his mask is made from human skin, stitched together from previous victims.

It's arguable that his family are even scarier than him.

So released in 1974, Tobe Hooper's influential horror was instantly banned throughout various countries but didn't have the continued chaos surrounding last house as it was 'only' banned for 25 years before been released uncut.

The opening suggests it was based on true events which ultimately led to its great success.  We of course all know, it's not but very clever.

It would get two sequels and strangely, in 1995 The Next Generation appeared and it's practically a carbon copy remake of the 1974 original.

The original would be directly remade in 2003 and then, The Beginning in 2006 would be a prequel, explaining the origins of Leatherface and taking place 4 years before the remake.

So the events took place in 1999 but shouldn't be confused with taking place before the 1974 film, even though the 2003 film is a direct remake of the original and not a reboot.

Hmmmm, so Beginning was a unique film and was the start of a new set of films.  Incidentally, another film is planned for 2013.

The 2003 and 2006 feature much more blood and gore, rather than the clever inferences in the 1974 original but still remain fine efforts but I prefer the Beginning, whose ending sets up the 4 year later premise rather nicely.

Before moving on, I mustn't forget to mention Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.  It's a sequel and a reboot as the second film suggested that Leatherface died.

Anyway this was banned in 1990 and would remain so until passed uncut in 2004.

Now we deal with a very common misconception in A Clockwork Orange.  It's an adaptation of Anthony Burgess's book in 1962.

The film was released in 1971 and follows Alex and his group of droogs as they partake in rape and violence.  Its main protagonist Alex, also has keen interest in Beethoven, but he commonly refers to him as Ludwig Van.

Once captured, he is the subject of rehabilitation via controversial conditional therapy.

This involves forcing him to watch violent movies (featuring the material he adores and practiced) and initially is unmoved.  But as the drugs set in, together with the images, a Ludwig Van soundtrack starts to make him sick so looks to unsuccessfully end his treatment.

Eventually he is released as 'cured' and released but suffers greatly when again he hears Beethoven and jumps out of a window.  He later wakes up in a hospital and subjected to a series of psychological tests and realises he no longer has a strong dislike to violence.

Ludwig Van plays again but has the opposite effect as he sees an image of him having sex with a woman in front of an approving crowd.  He states "I was cured, all right."

Though controversial, it's a social commentary on youth gangs, psychiatric therapy and other political subjects.

No I haven't forgotten, that misconception is its ban.  It was never really banned but withdrawn at Kubrick's request in 1973.

It was nothing to do with its violence or other content but instead because of Kubrick's family received death threats.  It was not allowed to be shown again until after Kubrick's death in 1999 so the ban was finally lifted.

So to the public, it wrongly received mythical status in the UK.

The Exorcist, together with pea soup and extreme expletives was passed uncut upon cinema release in 1973 so was always legal.

It was another to be falsely regarded as been banned.

Like Orange, it was adapted from a novel.  In this case, William Peter Blatty's of the same name in 1971 and he was inspired by a real-life exorcism in 1949.

Why people thought it was banned was because it was never submitted for classification.  Its distributor decided not to submit it, following the video nasty crisis and the VRA.

In 1999, it was submitted and passed uncut in 1999.

The spider walk scene was cut by Friedrick as he didn't think the effect worked as well as others due to wires, and was reinstated in the cinema re-release in 2000.  It can also be found in the DVD release. 

I always found it strange that it was passed uncut, with certain imagery and the horrific profanity spewed out of Regan's mouth.

Although it takes a bit to get going, a bit like a car that constantly stalls until the bite is found, the special effects still remain very good today which is a testament to how scary it must have been back in the 70s.

Blatty even stated that the film was cursed as on-set, a fire started and also permanent damage was caused to Linda Blair's spine.

There would be sequels but these were awful.

This was genuinely scary, unlike the many 'exorcism' films of today which only succeed in raising my yawnometer.

It would also be famous for featuring Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and the iconic image when Max von Sydow approaches the house nearing the film's climax.

The 1989 short film, Visions of Ecstasy was given the unwelcome first as being the only film banned by the BBFC under blasphemy laws.

In reality, the BBFC could have granted a certificate but in order for this to happen, about half the film would have to be cut so instead of butchering it, decided to refuse it altogether.  Makes sense.

The main reason they decided against it was the fear of allowing any release, it would be prosecuted under the common law offence of blasphemous libel.

An appeal was made to the European Court of Human Rights but the decision was upheld.

But wait, the blasphemous libel laws were repealed in 2008, so would clear the path for a resubmission.  This wouldn't happen until this year and could have still been cut due to content but because of those blasphemy laws no longer existing, it was passed uncut with an 18 rating.

Before I get to the famous cases of cut works (well to me anyway), I'm now gonna make noises about video nasties compiled by the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions).

This list was first made public in 1983 and was modified as appropriate when prosecutions either failed or dropped.  It gets a little confusing as some films were successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 but have since were cut and approved for a BBFC certificate.

Ultimately, the list was rendered pointless and obsolete when the VRA came into force and several have been released uncut.  Scenes such as animal cruelty and sexual and/or excessive violence towards women remain cut or severely reduced.

So basically, a video nasty was any work that didn't need to be submitted for a BBFC certifcate as it went straight to video form.

Many would form part of this list but I'll mention those with the most controversial background and/or cuts (sometimes heavy) leading to their release.

The following were (and many more) were prosecuted.

Even today, Cannibal Holocaust still remains hugely controversial and tells the story of a missing documentary crew who go to the Amazon to film indigenous tribes.  Much is portrayed by the recovered content and is told in flashback with it growing ever more disturbing.

Its graphic violence, sexual assault and actual cruelty to animals is why it's so bad.  The director Ruggero Deodato would be accused of the ultimate atrocity - murder.

On premier, he was arrested on obscenity charges and accused of making a snuff film, with having actors murdered on camera.  It is still banned in several countries.

It would use this boast as part of a marketing campaign and why wouldn't it.

Deodato would land in hot water due to his own innovative idea.  The actors involved had signed contracts ensuring that they wouldn't appear in the public eye in any shape, fashion or form until a year after its release to promote the idea that the footage really was from a missing crew.

So of course, when accused of murder, he obviously claimed he had not killed the actors on camera, but how could he prove it as far as everybody else was concerned, they didn't exist?

He got around this by contacting one of the actors (Luca Giorgio Barbareschi) and told them to gather the other 'victims'.

Firstly to avoid life imprisonment, he was forced to void their contracts and then he used the ultimate proof by presenting them on an Italian television show.  So he was okay on that score but he still had to explain the female impalement scene.

He explained to the court that effect was achieved by attaching an iron pole to the end of a bicycle seat (which she sat on) and to complete the effect, she'd hold a small length of balsa wood in her mouth, hence creating the illusion of impalement.  I find that pretty clever and would have cost peanuts to set up.

So after all that, the murder charges were dropped.

In 2001, it was released with over 5 minutes of cuts (mainly to omit most animal cruelty and rape scenes).

A decade later, the new version was cut with only 15s as the only cut that breached guidelines was killing a coatimundi (a type of aardvark).

You could cite others of this but nobody really mentions them.

An ox was sliced nearly in half during the production of Apocalypse Now and here's a probable forgotten obscurity.

In the Van Damme action film, Double Impact - a live frog is hacked up graphically on-screen.  If this was animatronic - it's too realistic.  Same principle, right?

I'd associate it the first real found-footage film that w/o it, Blair Witch et al may not have existed.  So whatever you think of it, you can't deny it that.

The Driller Killer was released with cuts 1999 and later uncut, in 2002.

Another notorious Italian horror, The House by the Cemetery received over 4m of cuts in 1988.  In 1992, this was heavily pre-cut by its distributor by over 7m.

Another attempt was made in 2001 and only cuts of 30s or so were made and in 2009, it was finally released uncut.

I Spit on Your Grave (originally titled Day of the Woman) was the grandaddy of all rape and revenge dramas and that's a fact.

It follows Jennifer, a young and attractive writer and is brutally raped several times.  She later seduces those involved and dishes her own dose of revenge on her tormentors.

This video nasty was made in 1978 but was never going to be released uncut but in its first form in 2001, received over 7m of cuts.  Nine years later, it was re-released with 3m of edits.

It was the extreme nature and lengthy scenes of gang rape.  It did also feature portrayals of violence but of course, any amount of violence is more tolerable than rape.

Still, Jennifer does get her revenge on her tormentors and while a small amount of remorse is displayed by some involved, she'll never psychologically recover and can at least take a shred of satisfaction that she's still alive and the others aren't.

Again, there was a direct remake in 2010 that I'll mention later.

Zombie Flesh Eaters was a 1979 undead film by Italian Lucio Fulci.  Its title is very confusing as it suggests it was a sequel to Zombi (what our friends in Italy call Romero's Dawn of the Dead) but they are totally unrelated apart from being about shufflers.

In 1999, it was released with only a minimum amount of cuts (23s) and there were only minor edits to the famous eye gouge and zombie feast scenes.  It would appear in its uncut form in 2005.

The following were non-prosecuted.

Low-budget 1980 American horror Don't Go in the House was released in 1987 with over 3m of cuts but in December 2011, passed uncut.

This attracted much attention due to its idea of the protagonist been addicted to fire and human combustion as his mother saw him do something evil as a child and attempted to 'burn' the evil out of him.

When he returns home and finds her dead, his revenge cannot be exacted on her so decides to take it out on every other woman he meets.

Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead is among the famous films I'll mention and boy was it good.

Made in 1981, some friends stay in an isolated cabin in the woods, they find a mysterious book, 'of the dead' and then play a tape which talks of the book.  What they don't know is on doing this, demons are being resurrected....

All sorts of shit happens as each of the friends become possessed and turn nasty.

While fairly gross, it was pencil stabbing in the ankle and the tree rape scene that made it the first video nasty.

Great effects and camera work ensures it remains a important horror and a cult classic.  It was re-released uncut in 2001.  Groovy

I prefer the sequel as while still gross, was more of a comedy and was even really funny.  It was basically a remake of the original though.

There were films that were banned by the BBFC but never regarded as video nasties.

Silent Night, Deadly Night was fun filled Christmas horror was never submitted for a certificate but when submitted, it was passed uncut as an 18 in 2010.

Orange would also be associated as a video nasty but I've mentioned it again only for that reason so won't bleat on about it again.

In 1979 we'd have Alan Clarke's borstal classic Scum, featuring a very young Ray Winstone (as Carlin) and even an equally adolescent Patrick Murray.  Best known for his portrayal as bit character Mickey Pearce in Only Fools.

Also confused with video nasties, it was originally a play made for the BBC in 1977 but quickly withdrawn due to its content.

So two years later, Clarke would remake it and it would be much more violent than it's play counterpart.

Its controversy would stem in many themes that included the borstal system's flaws that offered no attempt of rehabilitation, racism, violence, rape, suicide and language.

It was first broadcast in 1983 on Channel 4, by which time the borstal system was abolished by the Criminal Justice Act 1982, by introducing youth custody centres instead.

In 2010, there would be an American equivalent, Dog Pound.  Was it any good?  No idea and don't care.

There was also a Danny Dyer film in 2000 called Borstal Boy.  Although it features a borstal, this is nothing to do with Scum.

Great cult classic and remember, I'm the daddy.

Probably more controversial than Orange was Sam Peckinpah Straw Dogs which was a psychological thriller but is most notorious for violence and more so, its rape scenes.

It was banned during video nasty scare and was re-released in 1995 in a cut form.  2002 came and it was released uncut, with an 18 rating.

On deciding to cut or not to cut, the BBFC concluded that it should be uncut as Amy doesn't enjoy the rape.

To explain, there was a pre-cut version in 1999 and the BBFC rejected it.

The 2002 uncut version re-introduces the second rape that unlike the 1999 version infers her dislike for it because the 1999 version briefly portrays Amy enjoying the rape.

Others suggest that Amy's reaction is horrifying and truthful in her portrayal and really, David (the husband) is the real villain.

So the BBFC state that one version eroticises rape and while the other features an extra rape, it is more acceptable because of Amy's clear indication and reaction that she is not gaining pleasure during her second violation.

Moving away from the now irrelevant DPP and prosecutions list, films that were never banned, had no cuts (forced or otherwise) could be among the most controversial of all, due to their potentially sensitive nature.

In 1979, the gang of Monty Python would write and perform The Life of Brian.  Soooo controversial as it dealt with themes of religious satire, and drew protests and anger from many for its content.

It tells the story of Brian (portrayed by Graham Chapman), a Jewish man who is mistaken for the Messiah.

It's well known that he's not the Messiah and just a very naughty boy.

Remember the powers that local authority's possess in reclassifying films at cinemas.  In the UK, well they did something more than that, many would ban it outright or impose an 18 certificate which its distributors refused to do so effectively enforcing its own ban.

Some councils would ban it w/o even seeing it, and did so on the opinion on what they had been told. 

It was also banned in other countries.  Famously, its marketing campaign boasted "So funny it was banned in Norway!"

So in an ironic sense then and not in the form of Holocaust.

The BBC and ITV refused to show it in the fear it would cause offence.

Mary Whitehouse and her cohorts would loiter around cinemas, launch leafleting campaigns and picket those cinemas who showed it.  Of course, all this controversy and publicity only contributed to its popularity.

Scene after scene would anger but possibly the most famous aspect of its controversy was when Palin and Cleese appeared on the BBC2 talk show - Friday Night, Saturday Morning to feature in a notorious debate with Malcolm Muggeridge and Mervyn Stockwood, a satirist and the Bishop of Southwark respectively.

They had both watched 'some' of the film to prior to this debate but missed the scenes demonstrating that Brian and Jesus were very different characters but nevertheless decided that this lampooned Christ.

How can you make your mind up about something you haven't even seen?

So cheap jibes and witty and inspired comments were exchanged, by MS and the Bishop and the Pythons respectively who the latter were surprised in the manner of the debate.

The film also points fun at political satire, as the question is asked "What have the Romans ever done for us?"  Very clever and also funny too.

Is it blasphemous?  Not at all to me and if I really thought it was, I would say so.

It's mooted as a contender for the greatest comedy film of all time, so that's not just the best British comedy, but of any country.  Must be awful then.

Whatever your opinion on its content, just take it what it is - a superb comedy made by the best of British.

If I've learnt anything, never debate or argue about two topics, religion or politics as neither party can ever agree or win.

Anyway, always look on the bright side of life.

The next cannot be spoke of because it's the first rule but I'm going to throw the strict rules out of a nearby open window.

Fight Club in 1999 was a great portrayal of how a man tries to escape his bland everyday life and observes young men's behaviour in the 1990s.  It was directed by David 'Seven' Fincher (who admittedly would go on to make much better and even a few bombs) and was based on a 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk.

It tells the story of an unnamed fed up office worker (Edward Norton) and forms a fight club and relationship with soap maker (Brad Pitt).  Helena Bonham Carter also tags along as Marla.

Pitt turns out to be a hallucination and a year later in Guy Ritchie's fairly awful crime caper Snatch, he also reprises fisticuffs as a gypsy.

It sparked controversy for encouraging irresponsible violence and anti-social behaviour, some would liken its violence to be along the same lines of Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.

It contrasts the sterile overground and the 'different' underground life of young men and is really quite thought-provoking.  It also talks of advertising and consumerism.

Even though it contains violence, as the title suggests.  It is integral to its message and those expecting a ridiculous martial arts film, please don't waste your time.

Also, don't mention Project Mayhem....

Quentin Tarantino's bank 'gone badly wrong' heist directorial debut in 1992 was a great film but apart from its constant use of f words, inspired soundtrack, witty and great script, it would be most famous for one scene...

Mr Blonde (Michael Madsen), while subjecting a cop to various acts of torture, decides to novelly use a cut-throat razor on his hearing cartilage.

While you obviously know what's going on and see the outcome of this DIY job, the camera pans away throughout.  Leading the viewer to imagine the act, rather than experience it.

I really don't and still don't see what the fuss was about.

So don't bark little doggies, bite instead.

Oliver Stone's 1994 crime/black comedy Natural Born Killers, sparked enormous outrage for its extreme violence and was accused of copycat crimes.

Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis have troubled childhoods, become serial killers and lovers.  Their exploits are irresponsibly glorified by the media.

It's a satire, stating that the real life exploits of serial killers are fascinated by most.

Now we have 9 Songs, it featured real, unsimulated sex, various other sexually explicit acts and ejaculation.

Its title refers to the number of songs, performed by various bands throughout the film.

Whoah, real sex and ejaculation, why wasn't it an R18?

So obviously for its material and this was very extreme when it comes to its love-making.

Forget the bum and boob scenes you're used to seeing in normal action films and/or dramas.

In 2009, Lars von Trier brought us Antichrist is more extreme to me as together with the strong real sex, it also depicted bloody violence, horror and what most remember, brutal self-mutilation.

It follows a husband and wife who, after the death of their child (which is their fault), retreat to a log cabin to try cope and move on with their lives.  But they start to experience obscene visions and manifest violent sexual behaviour.

Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg give superb turns facing damnation, grief, themselves and literally, a pseudo purgatory.

It's opening scene (Prologue) is beautifully shot in b/w slo-mo, featuring the background music score of Lascia ch'io pianga from Rinaldo.  From then on, it's told in Chapters, then an Epilogue.

Its surreal execution of its subject matter is undeniably powerful.

Some will find its sexual violence disgusting and obscene, but others will appreciate its artistic and unique bizarre imagery.

Despite uproar and outrage, it was neither banned or cut.  Was it because it was considered arthouse and applying edits would remove its point?

Or was it decided that its theme was unlikely to arouse but instead to illustrate characters and relationships, thus, passing the 'harm' test.

People tended to focus on its undeniable controversy and don't give it credit in what is an arguable masterpiece.

A fucked up, insanity test or a raw and innovative horror?  I think all, and then some.

That's a rap on my selected cut, uncut, video nasties and the most controversial films of yesteryear and near present.

Heard of torture porn or splatter film?  Well if you're into movies, I don't see how you can't of but whatever let's rev these terms, find the bite and let the handbrake go.

I don't buy Final Destination was one of the first to start things off as while gory, it's best described as just a horror film.

No thing or more importantly human, physically uses tools through whatever choice, to inflict extreme pain on their victim.

It's a sometimes clever chain of events, that's sparked off by the precarious placement of some object or thing, or the act of somebody placing that thing and it moves to another area to cause a gory death.

I'd associate Scream as a splatter film or is it a slasher film like Jason and Michael?  I can't decide.

To me, Hostel is torture porn as those tools are used for the primary purpose to inflict pain and torture.

Many will immediately point to the Saw franchise as being torture porn.  But again, while very gory - each person basically has a choice, die or inflict extreme pain on themselves to usually escape a trap.  Jigsaw only sets up potential torture but never performs it.

We go global now to France, with Martyrs, Frontiers and Inside.

Back to America and the massive influx of remakes and reboots including Dawn of the Dead, Texas Chainsaw, Friday the 13th, The Hills Have Eyes and I Spit on Your Grave are definite relations to this family.

So finally, allow me to swiftly proceed to the very recent history and the immediate present.

These films are cut, remain cut and some have been heavily butchered, falling into the 'minutes' of cuts category.  That work which will forever remain illegal in the UK will also be revealed.
Of course w/o these cuts, they'd be rejected and be illegal.

In 2010, the remake of the 1978 notorious rape and revenge thriller, I Spit was cut by the BBFC to achieve an 18 rating at cinemas.

Although less emphasis is based around the rape and nudity of the victim, more emphasis is focused on threat and humiliation.  43s of cuts was required to the rape sequence to achieve its rating.  The strong, bloody violence is uncut.

These 'seconds' of cuts removed the elements to eroticise sexual assault and encourage titillation.  So it was confident with these bits removed, it is free from encouraging imitation.

Maybe not very well known to most is the Serbian extreme horror, A Serbian Film.  Not a very original title but that's for a reason.  It is commonly referred to, even in its cut form, as the most disgusting film ever made.

This was due to sexually violent material so far beyond the uncut Antichrist.

It was heavily butchered and suffered about 3m 48s of cuts before been given an 18 rating.

This subtitled uber horror tells the story of a retired porn star, who is lured out of retirement to participate in an 'artistic' porn film for the reward of money.  When these activities get 'too much' he tries to escape but is drugged and forced to continue.

Its 'original' title is because it's intended to be allegory about Serbia itself and is supposed to shock, but the sexualised violence goes beyond what the BBFC considers acceptable and while it also attempts to make a political point, it still fails the 'harm' test.

Nearly 4m is a hell of a long time, hence so much is missing (49 cuts to be precise).

Right, now we're nearly smack up to date as I'm now talking about the potential box-office smash, The Hunger Games.

It was released in cinemas on 23 March 2012 and was adapted from the first (in 2008) of a trilogy of novels by Suzanne Collins.

The story is about teenagers who fight for survival and to the death on live television.  John Carter was embroiled in a hurricane of hype and was expected to be another Disney smash but is actually wallowing in the flop bucket.  This looks set to take the plaudits.

Surprisingly, Lionsgate were told to enforce cuts to tone down blood and injury in order to get a cinema 12A rating.  We all know the distributor didn't have to apply these cuts, but that would have meant launching an appeal to the VAC and that would've taken time, and time is money folks.

So w/o these cuts, it would have been a 15 but that would've been less lucrative for all concerned so they didn't bother.  See my fifth point, right near the top of this feature?

Why they couldn't be arsed, well that's because they only needed to make a miserly 7s of cuts.

Lionsgate claim that it's impossible to tell the difference between the two versions.  I'm inclined to agree, although I'm sure somebody would say otherwise.

Next we get to Tom Six's hugely controversial and now famous franchise, The Human Centipede.

The first film (First Sequence) was released in 2010 and from the very off dipped its 100 legs into the disgusting bucket.  That's right surely as a centipede has 100 legs but in truth, the 'centipede' needs fifty participants to make it correct but in reality, there were only three....

It tells the story of a mad German scientist who kidnaps three tourists to realise his disturbed dream of creating a human centipede, by connecting each from mouth to anus.  Pretty sick stuff!

Six said that the idea was conceived by what he'd like to happen to a child molestor to a fat truck driver.  Well I can think of other ways to punish such a horrible, sick person but I suppose Six' idea could be one of them.

Inspiration also came from Nazi medical experiments in World War II.

The film however, is not based on true events and is totally make-believe.

Despite its tasteless and nauseous subject matter, it's really just a mad scientist film and if it wasn't for the idea, would be regarded as any other traditional horror and isn't even particularly nasty or gory.

So taking this into account, the BBFC rightly passed it uncut but that's the starter, now let's move to the mains.

A year later in June, its sequel, Full Sequence was rejected by the BBFC for its sexually violent and potentially obscene content.

Well, this one tells of a man who becomes sexually obsessed with the DVD recording of the former film and imagines putting his own centipede into practice.

The reason why it was rejected is that, unlike the first film, the idea is the object of the protagonist's sexual fantasy and not a medical experiment.

It featured sexual violence, little dialogue, mutilation and defecation; all shot in glorious b/w.  Not that choosing colour would've made any different to the decision of course.

Scenes guaranteeing to fail the harm test included masturbation with sand paper and sexual arousal at defecation.

The Board also said that the victims are only there to be brutalised and degraded for the purpose to sexually arouse its protagonist, as well as for pleasure of the audience.

In turn, granting this uncut will have, in their opinion caused a genuine risk under the terms of the VRA and such material may have breached the Obscene Publications Act.  This was also not submitted for cinema release.

Following this decision, the distributors did launch an appeal and while doing so, proposed a number of cuts which was considered by the BBFC.

These 'cuts' didn't cut the mustard and a more extensive range of cuts was required.  These new cuts were accepted, applied and the appeal was withdrawn, therefore ensuring an adult rating.

So in October, despite swallowing the bitterest cutting pill; the revised work with enforced cuts by way of blackmail - all's legal and above board.

It was therefore unable to be the film equivalent of Manhunt 2 then.  Boo, hiss, boo.

I suppose it would have been a farce anyway as the BBFC really dug its censoring heals in.

Okay, its original refusal letter in June made it clear it was open for cuts to be made and so, six months later, everybody's sort of 'unhappy'.

For stat-heads out there, 32 cuts are missing from the original work (totally 2m 37s).

Years later, will the original work be re-submitted and be passed uncut?  Unlikely but you can Never Say Never.

When the original refusal decision was made, Six responded in a statement to Empire magazine.  Let's put it this way, he didn't applaud the decision...

There will be a third and final dessert to complete the trilogy.  Final Sequence will pick things up where the second left ended so making it a continuous epic of centipede tomfoolery.  He intends to 'upset a lot of people' and bizarrely, it's supposed to have a happy ending.

So Mr Six, unless this a publicity stunt, you better be bluffing because if not, you're never gonna get the original work passed uncut (at cinema or DVD) unless you catch the BBFC in an extreme moment of their own.

Whatever, I'm mildly interested as in conclusion - not awful or brilliant but somewhere in between of mediocre and good.

Here we go, finally I'm going to reveal 'that' film that supercedes everything ever mentioned - no amount of cuts will ever grant this not so famous, notorious torture fest a certificate.

Japanese horror Grotesque was submitted in 2009 and was rejected, that's it - this time the BBFC gave option of compromise, no hope and no mercy.

This is Hostel for grown-ups.

It's sort of in the ilk of Centipede as a couple are kidnapped by a crazy doctor, then degraded, sexually assaulted, violently tortured and humiliated.  There's apparently little purpose to it apart from inviting the viewer to become part of protagonist's relentless world of brutal sadism.

So with such subject matter, under the VRA and BBFC guidelines, no amount of cuts would alter the subject matter so unlike Centipede 2 and Manhunt 2, a certificate is a big fat and definite no no.

Director Kojo Shiraishi was flattered by this decision.

So despite this, was it any good?  I have no fucking clue as I'll never have the opportunity to find out.

Admittedly, there is little plot development and it's just violence for violence sake but I want to make that decision for myself and not have it dictated that I can never have that decision to make.

Here's a treat, I'm now going to look to the future that isn't even released on DVD yet.

It's German backwoods horror, Break and is scheduled for release on 16 April.

It was passed with an 18 rating but again, suffered cuts, 53s of them to be precise so not butchered but nevertheless, another film which I probably won't buy because it's not as intended.

Apart from every film I've mentioned, I personally find it incredible that some films were passed uncut which is why I find classification, the BBFC and censorship so fucking insane.

The great Eden Lake is such an example as that contains torture, violence and terrorisation.

The scene in the woods involving Michael Fassbender is the main cringeworthy moment.  

Another nice little unknown, Mum & Dad has even worse subject matter showing graphic humiliation, terrorisation, torture and violence.  It even features very questionable religious imagery.

Trust me horror fans, watch this film and you'll be gobsmacked that it was passed totally uncut.  You'll squirm at its content - oh that poor Polish girl.

I hopefully haven't put you off because it's a good film but not very nice...

To end my trilogy of examples, for violence only - how Carver made it w/o being sliced to bits doesn't make any sense.

It's possibly the most violent and goriest film I've ever seen and features a scene guaranteeing to make all us men wince.

Time to tie that bow around this present.

Personally, I don't think any film submitted in the UK should be refused classification.

Everybody should be given a right to watch (or in case of games) play whatever they want (regardless of content) and if the media circus wants to juggle their balls of controversy and declare it to be evil, so be it.

Of course the subject matter that films of yesteryear and in more recent history deals with is nasty and unpleasant but are designed and intended to shock.

Ofcom deal with numerous complaints and today, apologies are given to the viewing public.

To those who are truly offended, here's some really simple tips -  if it's on the box, do some channel hopping and if it's anywhere else - simply ignore it.

As I've said before, there's no irrefutable proof that any material in a game or film can influence the actions of any individual.  If there really was, violent games wouldn't be made today.

Very recently, The Sun reignited the controversial touch paper with the connection of violent behavior between games and films and why did they exhume it – because of Coronation Street.

The journalist made the same mistake as Reuters with Manhunt too….  Even after all these years, in case it’s not clear – THERE IS NO POINTS SYSTEM IN THAT GAME!

I was going to complain but what good would that do?  Very little.

Even in cut form, the spirit and essence of content contained remains and is open for any copycat reenactment.

Unfortunately, the people who blame these 'works' and then, the media and public alike for their horrific acts are just clearly disturbed, sick and unstable people.  There can't be any other explanation.

This is proved by some of the already mentioned, really infamous cases.

Nobody can control the world and actions of those who inhabit it but sadly, those who claim to be affected, either by inference, inspiration, or implication is all it takes for everybody to point the unwanted finger of blame towards whatever work.

Has anybody ever thought why the real monsters aren't in jail, i.e the creators?

Imagine the headline 'Games and/or film creator corrupted by his own filth'.

In my unrealistic world, how about allowing a cut and uncut version to be both made available?

After all, we have director's cuts and even special or additional features that upgrade a rating due its material.  

This would solve everything and my bitching.  It can't happen of course but worth a thought.

The BBFC has no legal power to refuse classification solely on the grounds of offence.

So what the fuck does that mean?  Others may interpret it different but that basically says "The BBFC won't refuse classification even if it's likely to cause offence."

Well congratulations BBFC, that statement goes beyond offending me, let alone my intelligence.

My next post will move away from my current staple diet, but like an unreliable, misdirected boomerang, they'll return - but not as you know it....

I hope you're intrigued and that's whetted your appetite...

In the meantime, to get a detailed analysis on what was actually cut (together with stills) from uncut movies, see the link below.


It answers all those "What was actually 'cut' questions?"  A very interesting read indeed.

"The characters, themes, and all acts (regardless of subject matter) depicted in any photoplay are obviously entirely fictitious.  The chosen marketing campaign and subsequent controversy is designed to shock and in whatever form, were never intended to inspire any possible similar copycat incident.  The planet Earth, and its population can be (as history has proved), inhabited by sick, unstable and highly dangerous individuals who deserve the 'appropriate' treatment (regardless of their human status), and be separated from societal embrace, together with total immunity to any human right.  Any person or 'thing' who chooses to deviate from this principle should be swiftly and permanently confined to the surroundings of a filthy and brutal grey bar hotel."

"Game Over!"

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