We all love a bit of controversy. Be it real life or fiction, our appetite for the weird and wonderful, as well as the downright violent and grotesque has always held a morbid fascination for us film going folk and shows no sign of waning yet. Those BBFC lot have clearly got this film classification thing all wrong though. Don’t they know banning films only serves to generate more interest, not less? And yet they continue to ‘preserve our innocence’ by continuing to not award certain films (which they presumably deem unsuitable for our impressionable eyes) a certificate to be shown in this country. Silly billies.
From Natural Born Killers to The Human Centipede and as far back as the Island of Lost Souls, many movies have been given the equivalent of a wrap over the knuckles and made to sit in the dunce corner for as long as filmmaking has existed. But we are here to fight their corner (metaphorically, of course – we’re not that easily influenced) and give those films once (and in some cases, still) relegated to the naughty step a well deserved pat on the back. So, without further ado, here are our top ten banned movies….
Alan Clark’s 1977 film is a brutal depiction of life behind British borstal bars and definitely not for the faint hearted. In one of his first starring roles, and finest acting moments we might add, a young Ray Winstone takes on the role of Carlin who has to deal with the hardships of doing time in what is now the infamous borstal young offenders institute system. You might need to endure some parts behind your fingers but it’s well a worth a watch. Mary Whitehouse was initially successful in keeping this ‘filth’ off our screens but thankfully broadcasters seen sense and it is now a regular feature on some late night tv channels.
2. A Clockwork Orange
Contrary to popular belief A Clockwork Orange was not actually banned but instead removed from distribution by Kubrick himself, who feared for his family’s safety after receiving death threats from outraged objectors to the movie. There are a number of seriously violent scenes that have made the film notorious but it’s actually just a terrific adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel on which it’s based and a fine example of Maestro Kubrick’s work.
3. Island of Lost Souls
Originally banned from the UK for its suspected cruelty to animals, this 1932 film is based on the H.G.Wells novel ‘The Island of Dr.Moreau’. Given that the premise is one of a mad scientist who cruelly experiments on animals, we figure the BBFC got it right for once in preventing its release, although it was later passed after significant cuts were made. Despite its animal cruelty history it does star Bela Lugosi, which is surely a draw for any hardcore cinema fan – a wary recommendation although maybe the more recent version is a safer bet.
4. The Wild One
How anyone could ban Marlon Brando from our screens is beyond us. Don’t they know we’re not even listening to what he says let alone does? We’re much to busy admiring the god-like presence before us. As films go though, it ain’t a bad one. Rebel motorcyclists terrorizing a small town is always going to be fun to watch – lots of disgruntled bores complaining and getting their knickers in a twist gets our vote every time. And did we mention it stars Marlon Brando? Yeah, reason enough to give it a gander, we say.
5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Arguably the first real deal slasher movie, this 1974 film was initially allowed to run in London theatres for a whole year before having its license withdrawn. It seems the powers that be took issue with the title too – apparently the word ‘chainsaw’ was most problematic for the classification council who forced the filmmakers to remove it, along with other movies also proposing to use the same contentious noun. Of course, when we finally did get to see the damn thing (the ban was lifted in 1998) it had dated somewhat but that’s not to say old Leatherface hadn’t retained that all encompassing serial killer charm, managing to set terror into the minds of teens and adults alike who most probably watched it from behind the safety of their sofas. It undoubtedly remains one of the original ‘can’t sleep with the lights off’ scary movies.
Now here’s one you probably won’t have heard of. Described as a horror-thriller, Mikey is one of the few films still prohibited in the UK, with not much hope of the ban being lifted soon. At the crux of the troubling story is a child who ends up killing his adoptive family before moving onto the next, and the next, and the next, get the picture? Released just after the tragic Bulger murder and with the tagline, ‘With evil, size doesn’t matter’, it’s no wonder it wasn’t approved but perhaps enough time has passed to revaluate its license and let us see what all the fuss is about.
7. Natural Born Killers
Ah, the modern day Bonnie and Clyde that had both tongues and fingers wagging. We can’t deny Harrelson and Lewis made one hot couple but these superstar serial killers were deemed far too bad for our impressionable minds. In fact the UK only delayed its release due to the unfortunate timing (the Dunblane Massacre had just occurred) but Ireland came down hard with a complete block on the movie altogether. Written by Tarantino and directed by Oliver Stone, it was never going to be anything other than stellar.
Japanese splatter movie Grotesque was given the censored treatment due to its, and we quote, ‘unrelenting and escalating scenario of humiliation, brutality and sadism’. Thanks to its additionally damning lack of storyline and minimal character development it stands very little chance of ever being given the BBFC stamp of approval, making us want to see it all the more.
9. The Human Centipede 2
The second installment of the franchise managed to outshine the original in all its stomach churning glory, which is probably why it was forced to make the necessary 32 cuts before even being considered for release. It doesn’t make for pleasant viewing but it has sparked a new breed of horror that makes Saw look like Mary Poppins in comparison. And whilst the director may claim it’s all in the name of art, all we’re interested in is its optimum gore factor. Whatever you do, do not watch this movie alone.
10. The Bunny Game
Despite its award winning credentials, The Bunny Game was pretty much a straight to DVD affair with it still remaining on the UK banned film list to this day. Starring performance artist and activist Rodleen Getsic, it was shot in just thirteen days and has been described as an ‘extreme horror flick’ due its very graphic sexual and physical abuse scenes. Whilst it’s unlikely the folks over at the BBFC are going to change their minds on the matter of its classification, Amazon seem quite happy to ship it out at a very reasonable cost – whether you purchase or not is entirely your call but don’t say you weren’t warned.