Video nasties were tabloid fodder during the 1980s, but after ‘Martyrs’ and ‘Green Inferno’, ‘9 Songs’ and ‘Nymphomaniac’, is there really such thing as a ban-able film in Britain? Er, yes according to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) – as long as you’re prepared to tackle some taboo subject matter and go to some very dark places.
James Bulger’s death sent shockwaves through British society in 1993, when two young boys murdered the two-year-old after abducting him from a shopping centre.
Initially, horror flick ‘Child’s Play 3’ was linked to the incident because it was suggested the killers had copied a scene from the movie during the murder, though it’s never been proven.
What the case did do though, was make child psychopaths particularly sensitive territory.
This 1992 B-movie chiller stars Brian Bonsall as the titular killer, who films the murder of his foster family which he has carefully planned before going on to kill his second family as well as some of his school teachers.
Banned in the wake of the Bulger fallout, it has never been repealed.
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
This cheesy horror was rejected in 1987, thanks to the distributor’s refusal to edit certain sequences.
But it’s barely a film in its own right anyway, having initially been part-written as spare scenes to insert into Part 1, before being spun into a separate movie. The amount of flashbacks and footage used from the original – including a 10-minute credit sequence to make it longer – meant it has attained a cult following as a bit of a joke.
That said, it’s still the exceptionally gory tale of a murderer who explains to a psychiatrist why he can’t stop killing and it was a double murder scene, as well as some shots of topless women dying which led to its ban.
This Japanese three-hander was rejected by the board in 2009, though did get a limited release in its homeland as well as at various festivals.
Directed by Koji Shiraishi, it’s the simple, 74-minute tale of a doctor who kidnaps and tortures a young couple. “The chief pleasure on show in viewing ‘Grotesque’ appears to be the spectacle of sadism (including sexual sadism) for its own sake,” said the BBFC, adding that the film includes amputation, eye-gouging and evisceration.
Shiraishi told 3:AM Magazine that he was encouraged to make the film as violent as possible, adding that, “Since there was a reaction I was very happy, but of course if it can’t be shown, and it can’t be released, I’m a little disappointed, but actually that means the movie I’ve made has the power to cause a controversy, so I’m happy in that way.”
Because of its relentless attitude to what’s happening on-screen, the BBFC worried the movie would risk causing harm within the framework of the 1984 Video Recordings Act.
The Bunny Game
The BBFC rejected this film in 2011, on the grounds that “the emphasis on the woman’s nudity tends to eroticise what is shown, while aspects of the work such as the lack of explanation of the events depicted and the stylistic treatment, may encourage some viewers to enjoy and share in the man’s callousness and the pleasure he takes in the woman’s pain and humiliation.”
You’re probably pleased you haven’t got round to watching it, though the 2010 movie – directed by Adam Rehmeier and about a prostitute who is kidnapped and tortured by a trucker – is interesting for the fact that it was co-written by Rodleen Getsic, the actress who plays said prostitute.
Still, despite being shot in arty black and white in a lo-fi style and though the BBFC have told the film company they can resubmit with suitable cuts, it remains illegal to supply it in the UK.
Shot found-footage style, the 2012 horror is about a Jewish family who are celebrating their son’s birthday when a group of meth-head neo-Nazis invade their house and subject everyone to various vile acts.
According to the BBFC, “the unremitting manner in which ‘Hate Crime’ focuses on physical and sexual abuse, aggravated by racist invective, means that to issue a classification for this work, even if confined to adults, would be inconsistent with the Board’s Guidelines, would risk potential harm and would be unacceptable to broad public opinion.”
The auteur of this 71-minute opus, American James Cullen Bressack, appeared to be tickled by the ruling, telling Nerdly, “I am honoured to know that my mind is officially too twisted for the UK…[It’s] a testament to the fact that the same crimes that happen in the world are truly horrifying.”
One of his next films (there are several in development according to IMDB) will be ‘Squeal: Blood Harvest’.
Women in Cellblock 9
Notorious Spanish exploitation director Jess Franco made this filthy prisonfest in 1977, but the film was only submitted for classification in 2004, when it was rejected.
Set in a girls-only South American jungle jail, the BBFC explains that it contains several sequences “depicting the abuse, torture and humiliation of naked women”, meaning that it fails the guidelines prohibiting the endorsement or eroticisation of sexual assault.
Also known as ‘Tropical Inferno’, the board were particularly concerned that one of the lead actresses was only just over 16 when the movie was made. As such, said the BBFC, “the board was in no doubt that many of the sexualised scenes involving her would therefore be illegal.”
Franco is a legend in cult movie circles and died in 2013. He could have potentially cut the film to make it acceptable, but the sheer amount of debauchery on show made it impossible.
Photos: Imperial Entertainment/Anchor Bay/Moviestore/Rex_Shutterstock/ Media Blasters/Autonomy Pictures/Full Moon