Film Censorship: P #1


 

 

 

 

The Panic in Needle Park

Directed by Jerry Schatzberg / 1971 / USA / IMDb

In December 1971, THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK was censored by 114-feet (01:16) to remove 'incitement to drug abuse'. The 113m R-rated version was released theatrically by 20th Century Fox.

 

 

Video and DVD releases

Magnetic Video issued THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK on tape in the early 80s. Thanks to John C. for the cover scan.

In February 1984, Pakenham video library and CBS/Fox Video, and in April 1985, Pioneer Electronics, all had a 106m tapes passed with an R-rating.

In March 2004, THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK was passed with an R18+ (Drug use) rating. DV1 released the DVD, which ran 105:06.

 

 

THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK: Incitement to drug abuse

Thanks to Simon for this information.

THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK is so grim that it is hard to find anything that could be seen as encouraging drug use. Presumably, in 1971 the censor meant that it was instructional to those wishing to use heroin.

The cuts would have come from some of these scenes. The times refer to the DV1 DVD release.

14:45 – Bobby melting heroin in a bottle top, and preparing to inject in front of Helen.

23:30 - Bobby’s friend melting heroin, binding his arm to find a vein, and injecting in close-up. This is the most explicit scene in the film.

48:00 – Bobby injecting Helen.

58:00 – Bobby’s brother preparing heroin for Helen.

66:00 – Bobby watching his supplier cut the heroin ready for distribution.

86:30 – Bobby injecting Helen.

 

The Panic in Needle Park (1971) Magnetic Video [au] VHSThe Panic in Needle Park (1971) DV1 [au] DVD


 

 

 

 

Panorama Blue

aka Blue Visions

Directed by Alan Roberts / 1974 / USA / IMDb

In July 1974, a 282-meter (83m) 70mm print of PANORAMA BLUE was banned because of 'indecency'.

A heavily censored 1729.00-meter (63:01) version was finally passed with an R-rating in August 1979.

14th Mandolin was the applicant in both cases. In the early 80s, they released it on tape through their King of Video label.

 

In February 1984, Video Classics had an 86m tape of PANORAMA BLUE passed with an R-rating.

 

In February 1984, the X-rating was introduced in Australia. This allowed hardcore adult sex film to be released on tape. A 56m version of PANORAMA BLUE was immediately passed with an X-rating.

This was followed in April 1985 by a 58m R-rated tape. It was awarded for sex, which was described as being:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

Both submissions were made by 14th Mandolin, who released the film on their Pink Video label as BLUE VISIONS.

 

Panorama Blue (1974) - King of Video [au] VHS


 

 

 

 

Payback

Directed by Addison Randall / 1990 / USA / IMDb

In 1992, an 86m videotape of PAYBACK was Refused Classification by the OFLC. A censored 82m version was awarded an M (Medium Level Violence, Coarse Language) rating in February 1992.

The tape was presumably released by Video Distribution Company, who was the applicant in both cases. Can anyone confirm that the VHS was released in Australia?

 

Thanks to Matt for this review.

It is easy to spot the problem scene in this one. At approx 47m, the three members of Strikeforce enter the bar and attack Jason's friend Molly. They hold her down over the pool table and proceed to take turns to rape here. The whole scene cuts back and forth between this, and that of Jason and Evelyn having sex. The rape ends at approximately the 49:30 point. This would have definitely been the main, and in my opinion, only scene that the OFLC would have banned the film for. Any depictions of rape seem to have routinely landed an RC-rating during this period.

There is another scene at 55:30 where Jason comes across a group of guys pushing a girl around. She is slapped in the face, before Jason proceeds to kick their assess with some very lame martial arts. I can't believe that the OFLC would have had any problems with this scene.

You may be interested to know that the Producers behind this are Richard Pepin and Joseph Merhi. They were responsible for LA CRACKDOWN 2, and NIGHT OF THE WILDING, two other films that you list as having been banned in Australia.

Overall, this is a badly acted, but strangely watch able early 90s straight to video action title. Today it would easily get by with an uncut R-rating. Just watch for the very fake looking decapitation at 80:30. The uncut VHS that I viewed ran 85:27.


 

 

 

 

The Peeper

Produced by Harry H. Novak / 197? / USA

In September 1975, a 297.00-meter (10:49) print of THE PEEPER was banned because of 'indecency'. Regent Trading Enterprises were the applicant.

THE PEEPER can be found as an extra on Something Weird's DVD releases of WHAM-BAM-THANK YOU, SPACEMAN (1975).


 

 

 

 

Personals

Directed by Armand Weston / 1972 / USA / IMDb

In September 1979, a 2095.80-meter (76:23) print of PERSONALS was banned because of 'indecency'.

In December 1979, a censored 1865.00-meter (67:59) print lost a further 11-meters (00:24) before being awarded an R-rating. The cuts were made to remove 'indecency'.

PERSONALS was released by 14th Mandolin on their King of Video label in the early 1980s. This very rare tape runs 64:31 (PAL), and is censored of all of the hardcore footage.

 

Personals (1972) - King of Video [au] VHS


 

 

 

 

Les Petites Fuges

Directed by Yves Yersin / 1979 / France / IMDb

This film has never had problems with the Australian censors. It is included because the distributor chose to censor it to achieve a more commercial rating.

 

In March 1980, Le Ciezio Films had LES PETITES FUGES passed with an R-rating.

They chose to remove 13-meters (28s) from the 3708-meter (135:32) print, in order to secure a lower M-rating.

 

Here is how Cinema Papers described the decision to cut the film, and how it compared with the treatment of David Blyth's ANGEL MINE.

"...the distributor secured the director's permission before proceeding. This however, seems to be the exception, not the rule."

 

 

Censored for a lower rating

The practice of a distributor censoring a film for a lower rating does happen in Australia, though not as often as in countries such as the U.K. The introduction of the MA15+ rating in May 1993 also reduced the occurrence. If a distributor is unhappy with a rating, the usual course of action is to appeal to the Review Board. If this proves unsuccessful, then they usually live with the original decision.

In Australia, the most notorious example was in 1976, when BEF Film Distributors received an R-rating for David Bowie's THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH. In a desperate to capture the youth market, they removed nearly twelve minutes of footage for an M-rating.

Here is an incomplete list of films that have been censored by their distributors for ratings reasons. All are covered in our Film Censorship Database.

 


 

 

 

 

The Piano Teacher

Directed by Michael Haneke / 2001 / Austria - France - Germany / IMDb

This film has never had problems with the Australian censors. It is included as an example of classification policy.

 

In June 2002, Level Four Films had a 131m 35mm print of THE PIANO TEACHER passed with an R18+ (Adult themes, Actual sex) rating.

Madman Entertainment released it on DVD with a running time of 125:08 (PAL).

In October 2005, it was passed again with an R18+ (Adult themes, Actual sex) rating. Madman Entertainment re-released the DVD as part of their Director's Suite series.

A censored MA15+ version of THE PIANO TEACHER premiered on SBS in June 2006.

 

 

Hardcore sex and THE PIANO TEACHER

This is an interesting rating, as it contains an R18+ scene of actual sex. See our separate entry for ROMANCE (1999) to learn more about the Classification Board's change in policy.

The following is taken from the 'Report on the Review of the Operation of the 2003 Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games'. It includes information regarding the classification of THE PIANO TEACHER.

The full report can be accessed at the Classification Board's website.

 

REPORT ON THE REVIEW OF THE OPERATION OF THE 2003 GUIDELINES FOR THE CLASSIFICATION OF FILMS AND COMPUTER GAMES

Prepared by Kate Aisbett, Entertainment Insights
December 2004

Executive Summary
Review process
A review of the first twelve months’ operation of the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games 2003 (the 2003 Guidelines) was promised by the former Attorney General, the Hon Daryl Williams AM QC MP, to ensure that the decisions made under the 2003 Guidelines align with those made under the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Videotapes – Amendment No. 3, 2000, and Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games – Amendment No. 1, 1999 (the previous guidelines). The review of the 2003 Guidelines has been conducted and is the subject of this report.

The principal object of the review is to assess whether the combining and recasting of the previous guidelines into the 2003 Guidelines has had the effect of changing the level of content that falls into the various classification categories for film and games.

 

7 Examination of Board decision reports

7.6.1 Actual Sex
The Piano Teacher
Depictions of actual sex were found in the comparative year for the Review period. The Board report for the film The Piano Teacher, classified in the year prior the introduction of the 2003 Guidelines, describes actual sex scenes of a similar level of detail and brevity:

Whilst in a booth in an adult shop, views of the video she is watching are shown full screen, including actual fellatio and intercourse. There are also views of magazines on the bookshelves depicting actual sexual activity…

The research on past incidents of actual sex in R18+ classified films and the content in films in the two comparative years suggests that the change in the level of actual sex is not related to the change in guidelines but related to the product in the market in the operational review year

 

Attachment D – OFLC responses to titles referred to in the report
The Piano Teacher
On 12 June 2002, the Board classified The Piano Teacher R18+ with the consumer advice, ‘adult themes, actual sex’.

The Board noted in its report that:

A lonely piano teacher who self mutilates and frequents peep shows in pornography shops forms a liaison with an infatuated student who becomes violent on discovering her masochistic desires.

… The film contains adult themes and depictions of actual sexual activity which cannot be accommodated in a lesser category.

The treatment of the themes of self mutilation, voyeurism, incest and sexual violence have a very high degree of intensity but are not exploitative within the context of the film.

… Although the general rule for Sex at R is ‘simulation, yes - the real thing, no,’ the Board is obliged to consider section 11 of the Act and is of the opinion that, although some scenes may be offensive to some sections of the adult community, the depictions of actual sex in this film can be accommodated in the R classification.

 

The Piano Teacher (2001) - Madman Entertainment [au] DVD


 

 

 

 

Pink Flamingos

Directed by John Waters / 1972 / USA / IMDb

In February 1976, a 2688:00-meter (97:59) print of PINK FLAMINGOS was banned because of 'indecency'. It was eventually passed with an R-rating in June 1976, after a 2575:25-meter (93:52) 'reconstructed version' was cut by a further 8.7-meters (00:19).

Windsor Theatres went on to release the film theatrically.

 

 

 

Banned on video

It was during the video revolution of the early-80s that PINK FLAMINGOS really had problems with the Australian censor. It was banned four times between 1981 and 1983.

 

September 1981
95m version submitted by Video Classics.
Banned because of sex and violence which were found to be:
Frequency: Infrequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous
…and also for 'coprophagy'

 

June 1983
88m 'reduced version' submitted by Leedin Records.
Banned because of sex which was found to be:
Frequency: Infrequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous
…and also for 'coprophagy'

 

July 1983
93m version submitted by Howard Smith Industries Pty Ltd.
Banned because of sex which was found to be:
Frequency: Infrequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous
…and also for 'coprophagy'

 

September 1983
95m 16mm version submitted by Newvision Films.
Reason for the ban is unknown, but presumed to be the same as the previous entries.

 

 

PINK FLAMINGOS and the X-rating

In February 1984, Newvision Films had had a 95m videotape of PINK FLAMINGOS passed with an X-rating.

The X-rating was introduced in Australia in February 1984. For a brief period, it was considered not just for sex films, but also for material that was too extreme for the R-rating. During this time, violence could be rated X, a number of non-hardcore films were awarded the rating. The guidelines were swiftly tightened up to remove violence, though pro-censorship groups will still claim otherwise.

Here is a list of titles that contain violence which were passed with X-ratings in 1984 to 1985. Apart from CALIGULA (1980) and PINK FLAMINGOS, we have no evidence that any of these were ever released in X-rated versions.

All are covered in our Film Censorship Database.

 

 

PINK FLAMINGOS on Palace Home Video

Palace Home Video released the X-rated version on tape, along with R-rated versions of FEMALE TROUBLE (1974) and DESPERATE LIVING (1977). The rear cover of both releases carried an advertisement (see below) for the PINK FLAMINGOS tape. Due to the X-rating, it was simply advertised on a plain white background as:

Ask for the other Divine title that we can't show you on this box!

This uncut tape is now extremely rare and runs 88:15 (PAL). Thanks to AussieRoadshow and Stephen F for the running time and cover scans.

 

 

Banned in 1997

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of PINK FLAMINGOS, a re-release print was shown in the U.S. that included an introduction by Director John Waters.

This new 107m uncut version was banned by the OFLC in October 1997. Roadshow Film Distributors censored the 35mm print down to 105m and were awarded an R18+ (Adult themes; Sexual references) rating on October 27 1997.  It was this version that was released theatrically.

The longer running time was due to some extra scenes that have been added, as well as the introduction by John Waters.

 

 

Actual sex and PINK FLAMINGOS

The reasoning that the OFLC gave in 1997 for banning PINK FLAMINGOS would presumably now not apply. See our separate entry for ROMANCE (1999) to learn more about the Classification Board's change in policy.

 

Not To Everyone's Taste, Film Still Turns Heads Red
smh.com.au, October 13, 1997

The managing director of Roadshow Film Distributors, Mr Ian Sands, confirmed that the midnight-movie special had been rejected. Ahead of a full censors' report due today, Mr Sands could not say which scenes of blatant, graphic, enthusiastic tastelessness would have to go. But he expects that "we won't have to do much to get it through".

Ms Andree Wright, deputy director of the OFLC, explained that "when it comes to sexual matters, the current R guidelines say: `Sexual activity may be realistically simulated.' The general rule is simulation, yes; the real thing, no. "

Well, in the case of this film, there is a scene where it is undoubtedly the real thing.

"Depictions along those lines are usually accommodated in the X category."

 

 

1997: Why PINK FLAMINGOS was banned

Here is what the OFLC had to say about PINK FLAMINGOS in their 1997 to 1998 Annual Report.

The 25th anniversary version of the 1974 low budget trash classic, John Water's Pink Flamingos was classified RC by the Board who noted it to be

"a deliberately provocative and confronting film which sets out to challenge society's conventions on good taste an appropriate behaviour."

The Board also commented that:

"the treatment however is highly theatrical with the low budget approach to production, acting and narrative and the use of caricature, coupled with a cheerful musical soundtrack, resulting in a offbeat black comedy which is likely to elicit different levels of appreciation in different viewers. While the Board recognises that some 23 years on, the film has a dated feel and may not be as shocking to audiences as when it was first released, the Board nonetheless is unanimously of the view that some of the content does still offend against standards generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should be classified RC"

The Board unanimously noted a scene which included "close up real depictions of actual fellatio....which unambiguously contravene R classification guidelines." Some Board members also considered the "incestuous nature the encounter to be offensive" while others were of the view that the presentation of the "mother-son' relationship is so patently ridiculous that his aspect cannot be taken seriously." In addition some of the Board considered two scenes containing depictions of sexual violence- one with "overtones of voyeurism" and the second "presented within a theme of kidnapping and forced insemination", to be "conceptually abhorrent and sufficiently detailed and exploitative to warrant RC." Some members further thought that one of these scenes dealt "cruelly with an animal in a gratuitous, exploitative and offensive manner", which in itself warranted 'RC'.

A revised version of the film was unanimously classified R with consumer advice "Adult themes, sexual references", with the Board commenting that "the adult themes can be accommodated at the R level in a film of merit", and that the sexual references "require an adult perspective". In the Board's view the film can be accommodated at the R level as it does not offend against standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that the film should be classified 'RC.'

 

 

1997: What was cut for the R-rating

Following its theatrical run, the censored R18+version of PINK FLAMINGOS was not released on tape. However, from the above description provided by the OFLC, we can guess that cuts were made to the following scenes.

 

 

Unofficial uncut VHS release

There is an unofficial Australian 'No Name Label' VHS released around 2000. Despite the R18+ rating, this was a bootleg that was never classified. Thanks to Mitch for the following information on this particular tape.

The actual runtime of the movie (excluding Copyright warnings and the extras at the end) is 93 minutes. The runtime of the film itself and the extras (deleted scenes introduced by John Waters + original trailer) is 108 minutes.

 

 

2014: Censored Australian TV Premiere

In March 2014, PINK FLAMINGOS was screened on the World Movies channel as part of their MORE FILMS THAT SHOCKED THE WORLD season.

 

The stories behind the scandalous ‘More Films That Shocked The World’
worldmovies.com.au
March 17, 2014

Due to popular demand, World Movies is bringing you another week of unforgettable films that changed the film industry forever. More Films That Shocked The World starts tonight at 9.30pm and is set to push the boundaries of controversial cinema further than ever before.

From an outrageously twisted cult-classic to a violent look at a real-life serial killer, these are the films that have shocked, outraged and been banned around the world.

Before the week kicks off, let’s take a look at why these films were so scandalous.

Monday 17 March 9.30pm
Pink Flamingos (USA) – Australian Television Premiere

 

World Movies confirmed on their Facebook page that the version they were going to screen would be cut.

facebook.com/theworldmovieschannel.au

Greg Murphy
March 14 at 12:00am
Assume there will also be a couple of cuts to Pink Flamingos as well. Great to see it is finally getting a TV release.

World Movies
March 14 at 8:19pm
Hi Greg Murphy We're glad to hear you're looking forward to 'Pink Flamingos'. Some very minor modifications have been made to the film to ensure it can achieve a R18+ rating, allowing it to be shown on Australian TV. WM

 

Pink Flamingos (1972) - Palace Home Video [au] VHS Front 1Pink Flamingos (1972) - Palace Home Video [au] VHS Front 2Pink Flamingos (1972) - Palace Home Video [au] VHS BackPink Flamingos (1972) - Palace Home Video [au] Advertisement on 'Desperate Living' VHSPink Flamingos (1972) - Palace Home Video [au] Advertisement on 'Female Trouble' VHS


 

 

 

 

Pink Narcissus 

Directed by James Bidgood / 1971 / USA / IMDb

In September 1981, a 1729-meter (63.01) 'pre-censor cut version' of PINK NARCISSUS was passed with an R-rating. It was awarded for sex, which was described as being:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

The applicant was GL Film Enterprises.

 

Soon after, PINK NARCISSUS was released on tape by Gold Lion. It was double-billed with Alan Ingram’s DESIRE (1981), and was described as 'a unique double feature program'. This release is now very rare.

 

In February 1991, Potential Films had a 67m 35mm print passed with an R18+ (Frequent sexual activity) rating.

 

Pink Narcissus (1971) & Desire (1981) - Gold Lion Video [au] VHS


 

 

 

 

Pinocchio 

aka The Erotic Adventures of Pinocchio

Directed by Corey Allen / 1971 / USA / IMDb

In March 1977, a 2112.00-meter (76:59) print of PINOCCHIO was censored by 63.5-meters (02:19) for an R-rating. The cuts were made to remove 'indecency'.

Regent Trading Enterprises was the applicant.

 

In the early 80s, K&C Video released a 72:37 (PAL) version of PINOCCHIO on tape. The title on the box was THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO.

72m tapes of PINOCCHIO were passed with R-ratings in September 1987, and June and July 1989. The 1989 classifications also included the newly introduced consumer advice warning of 'Frequent sexual activity'. The first two submissions were by Video Excellence, with the final one by Koala Marketing. It is unclear if these were ever released on tape.

 

The Erotic Adventures of Pinocchio (1971) - K&C Video [au] VHS


 

 

 

 

Pio thermi kai ap' ton ilio

aka Pio Thermi Ki Apo Ton Ilio

Directed by Omiros Efstratiadis / 1972 / Greece / IMDb

In February 1973, a 2898.65-meter (105:39) print of PIO THERMI KAI AP' TON ILIO was censored by 11.27-meters (00:24) for an R-rating. The cuts were made to remove 'indecency'.

Lyra Films were the applicant.


 

 

 

 

A Place Called Today

Directed by Don Schain / 1972 / USA / IMDb

In November 1984, G.A. International had a 100m videotape of A PLACE CALLED TODAY banned because of 'explicit and gratuitous sexual violence'. A censored 99m version was passed with an M-rating in September 1985.

The G.A International tape was released in New Zealand. It is unknown if any copies appeared in Australian video stores.

Don Schain's GINGER (1971) and THE ABDUCTORS (1972) also had censorship problems in Australia.

 

 

Explicit and gratuitous sexual violence  

Thanks to Matt G for this review.

Just caught up with a dub of an old U.S. tape release of this Don Schain drama. The running time was 102:55 (NTSC) and it looked uncut. For the first 80mins I was left wondering what exactly the Aussie censors had a problem with. However, at around the 83min mark a naked Cindy is kidnapped by two guys and you know where it is going to end. Here are the scenes that I would say the censors would have wanted removed, in part, or completely. In my opinion this would now pass uncut with an R-rating.

90:24-92:04 - A naked Cindy is released from the sleeping bag with her mouth taped up. The black guy says "You white bitch". He then threatens her with a gun, and then a knife. She struggles and he says "fight, go on, fight". He begins to rape her.

92:04-92:21 - report on TV

92:21- 92:33 - The rape continues

92:33-95:35 - Randy and Carolyn watch a news report

95:35-96:12 - The black guy finishes raping her and then stabs her in the throat. They then run away as the cops arrive.

 

A Place Called Today (1972) - GA International [nz] VHS 


 

 

 

 

Poor Cecily

Directed by Lee Frost / 1974 / USA / IMDb

In August 1977, a 2349.00-meter (85.37) print of POOR CECILY was banned because of 'indecency and indecent violence'.

The following month, a 'reconstructed version' lost a further 101.80-meter (03:43) before being rated R. The extra cuts were made to remove 'excessive violence'.

There appears to be an error in the Censorship Board’s listing. It is claimed that the submitted length of the 'reconstructed version' was 2955.00-meters (107:43), which then lost 03:43 for an R-rating. The current Classification database has a 75m running time for the R-rated version, which appears to be closer to the truth.

Lestrig Trading was the applicant.

 

 

POOR CECILY: The censored 'indecency and indecent violence'

Thanks to Simon for this information.

The uncut version of POOR CECILY that I viewed ran 85:49 (NTSC). The 'indecency and indecent violence' would have come from the torture dungeon part that runs from 54:00 to 68:30. The sequence would not be out of place in a Jess Franco WIP or an Italian Nazi exploitation film. Cecily is taken to the dungeon, whipped, and raped by the guards.

The film contains other soft-core sex sequences that the censor may have cut for indecency. However, I am convinced that most, if not all the cuts would have come from the dungeon sequence.


 

 

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