Film Censorship: Bad Taste (1987)





Bad Taste

Directed by Peter Jackson / 1987 / New Zealand / IMDb

One of strangest decisions that the OFLC made in the late 80s was the banning of Peter Jackson's BAD TASTE.

The following description of the whole saga uses quotes from an insider's account published on the Media Censorship in Australia facebook page.

The BAD TASTE Fiasco: Leaving a Bad Taste in Your Mouth
August 27, 2013


In May 1989, an 88m videotape of BAD TASTE was banned because of violence, which was found to be:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous

The first group of members who viewed BAD TASTE couldn't reach a decision, and so they asked for more members' opinions. This is called a split vote. The second group also had a split vote. A third, and fourth group, followed, but none of them reached a unanimous decision.

During these OFLC judgements, one of the censors was laughing uproariously throughout the entire screening of BAD TASTE. Said board member’s decision, ultimately, was to refuse BAD TASTE a classification, because she’d claimed that BAD TASTE was too violent!

Eventually, every member of the OFLC, including the chief censor and the deputy chief censor, had seen BAD TASTE. The Board had a meeting: it was a split-vote to ban or not to ban, with a couple of fence-sitters in the mix. One fence-sitter claimed that he had a tummy-ache at the screening time, and so he decided to ban it because he didn't feel well!

The point is that there was no genuine, considered consensus. Half of the Board preferred an R-rating, while the other half preferred refused classification. In the end, there was a vote, and BAD TASTE was banned…by one vote. One single fucking vote.


CBS/Fox Video removed six minutes of violence, and resubmitted the film. In July 1989, this 82m tape was awarded an M (Frequent violence) rating. The remaining violence was found to be:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

Regardless, the local distributor was keen to release BAD TASTE, and asked for guidance on what to trim to attain an R 18+ classification. Back in the bygone days of local censorship, the Australian censor would nominate the scene that needed to be cut, and at what time said scene occurred.

But in a politically-correct climate, the OFLC claimed that it had moved on from those dark prohibitive days, and it did not "censor" or "ban" movies anymore. It simply refused to classify them. However, in Australia at the time, if a film was refused classification, it was effectively banned from being legally distributed to any Australian state or territory.

All it (the review) does is to provide a report with a general description of the elements that caused the submitted film to be "refused", i.e. be given a higher rating than that desired by the local distributor. From this vague report, the distributor must decipher which images or scenes need attention to attain the desired R 18+ classification.

And so…a censored BAD TASTE was submitted back in the 1980s. But without any specific guidance, the local distributor had gone too far; the Board members, who viewed this cut version, gave it an M classification.


After realising they had removed too much of the violence, CBS/Fox Video decided to resubmit a less censored version. In February 1990, this 87m tape was passed with an R18+ (Graphic horror effects) rating.

The exact runtime was 86:31, compared to 87:42 for the uncut UK Colourbox tape. The Australian version was therefore censored by approximately 66s.

This tape became one of the final videos to proclaim 'BANNED IN QUEENSLAND' on the cover. Soon after the release, Wayne Goss's Labor Government abolished Queensland's separate censorship system.

In March 1990, an 86m 35mm print of BAD TASTE was passed with an R18+ (Graphic horror effects). Reid and Puskar was the applicant, and gave the film a limited theatrical run.

A second VHS release appeared in the mid-90s on the JVB label. It ran 86:25 and was also cut.



BAD TASTE uncut: Released by OFLC in 1991

In October 1991, it was part of a package that was seized by the Australian Customs Service. They were forwarded to the OFLC, where the Film Censorship Board examined BAD TASTE and recommended that it be released. Presumably, by this time they had by now realised the error they had made in originally banning it.



2004: Uncut at last

BAD TASTE was back before the OFLC in July 2004 for the first time in fourteen years. This time they were more sensible, and passed it with an R18+ (Medium Level Violence) rating. Universal Picture Video released this as a Collectors Edition DVD in September 2004. The film is fully uncut, restoring all the gore missing from the theatrical version, and two previous VHS releases. The longer running time of 91:33 indicates an NTSC print.



Bad Taste (1987) - CBS/Fox Video [au] VHSBad Taste (1987)  - JVB Video [au] VHSBad Taste (1987)  - Universal Pictures [au] DVD



The censored Australian version of BAD TASTE

Here are the scenes that were missing from the JVB tape (presumably the same as the CBS/Fox version) which are present in the Universal Pictures DVD. Note that this is not an exact comparison, so there may be more missing footage. The times refer to the points in the Universal DVD where you can view the previous cuts.



3.26 - 3.34: The alien stumbling around with the top part of his head missing.

Bad Taste (1987)  - Barry Shoots the Alien




Scene #1 - 14.08 - 14.12: Derek hammers the knife into the boot of the alien.

Scene # 2 - 14.27 - 14.28: Derek hits the knife again into the alien's boot.

Bad Taste (1987)  - Derek and the Hammer #1Bad Taste (1987)  - Derek and the Hammer #2

Scene # 3 - 15.11: Shot of the knife entering the alien's boot and blood coming out.

Scene # 4 - 15.41 - 15.42: Derek hitting the hammer twice more into the alien's boot.

Bad Taste (1987)  - Derek and the Hammer #3Bad Taste (1987)  - Derek and the Hammer #4




Scene # 1 - 18.53 - 18.54: The alien being shot in the stomach by Derek.

Scene # 2 - 18.58 - 18.59: Derek's gun entering the alien's stomach.

Bad Taste (1987)  - Gun in Stomach #1Bad Taste (1987)  - Gun in Stomach #2

Scene # 3 - 19.11 - 19.19: Derek pushing the gun through the alien's stomach.

Scene # 4 - 19.21 - 19.22: Shot of the gun firing through the back of the alien.

Bad Taste (1987)  - Gun in Stomach #3Bad Taste (1987)  - Gun in Stomach #4




Scene # 1 - 22.44 - 22.48: The alien dropping the hammer on the other alien's head.

Scene # 2 - 22.58-23.02: The alien's arm being torn off.

Bad Taste (1987)  - Hammer Head #1Bad Taste (1987) - Hammer Head #2




80.07 - 80.08: The alien's head opening up after Derek has used the chainsaw to cut it in half.

Bad Taste (1987) -  Chainsaw Head



Next Films: Baise-moi (2000)  or  A to Z Listing