Film Censorship: Death Wish 2 (1982)-Death Wish 3 (1985)


 

 

 

 

Death Wish 2

Directed by Michael Winner / 1982 / USA / IMDb

DEATH WISH 2 was the sequel to the 1974 vigilante classic. It ran into censorship problems in many countries, and Australia proved to be no exception.

The film was first banned in May 1982 in a version running 2510-meters (91:44). The reason given was:
Violence
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous

Other
Sexual Violence

 

Later in the month, Fox Columbia Film Distribution submitted a 'soft version' running 2426.26-meters (88:41). It was passed with an R-rating with the violence now described as:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

This was the version of DEATH WISH 2 that went on to have a theatrical release in Australia.

 

Death Wish 2 (1982) - Fox Columbia Film Distribuion [au] One sheet poster

 

 

R-rated videos and banned again

The first video release of DEATH WISH 2 appeared on the RCA/Columbia Home Video label.

This heavily censored tape ran 84:49, and was missing around four minutes of footage. Both the rape and murder of Rosario (at 9 to 15m approx), and the rape of Carol Kersey (15 to 18m approx) were heavily censored.

 

Death Wish 2 (1982) - RCA/Columbia Home Video [au] VHS

 

May 1984 saw DEATH WISH 2 back before the Censorship Board. Valley View Video Library was awarded an R-rating for an 87m print. The violence described as:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

 

In February 1984, it became law for all video tapes to be classified. The censors began the slow task of reviewing all the titles that had been released up until that time. They finally got to the old RCA/Columbia Home Video release of DEATH WISH 2 in April 1985. Despite being censored, they still gave a Refused Registration rating to the 85m print because of 'gratuitous sexual violence'.

 

September 1985 saw DEATH WISH 2 banned once again because of 'gratuitous sexual violence'. The applicant, Amalgamated 16mm Film Distributors, appealed the decision, and in September 1985 the Review Board awarded it an R-rating. Although it was not listed as such, the 85m running time would seem to indicate the print was pre-cut before submission.

 

Around 2000, an Australian 'no name label' VHS appeared with a running time of 88:12. Thanks to John C. for the cover scan.

 

Death Wish 2 (1982) -No Name Label [au] VHS

 

 

Australian DVD Releases

DEATH WISH 2 made its Australian DVD debut in 2003 on a double-bill with the original DEATH WISH. This Columbia-Tri-Star disc was titled DEATH WISH: ULTIMATE COLLECTORS PACK, and was fully uncut at 87:50.

The Chopping List has a detailed description of the differences between the censored RCA/Columbia Home Video VHS and uncut Columbia-Tri-Star DVD. The cuts appear to be very similar to those documented in this Movie-Censorship report.

 

In April 2006, Sony Pictures released the DEATH WISH: THE VIGILANTE COLLECTION. This set contained all five parts of the series. We require confirmation if this release of DEATH WISH 2 was uncut.

 

The film was released for a third time on DVD in August 2014, this time by Umbrella Entertainment. We require confirmation if it was uncut.

 

Death Wish 2 (1982) - Columbia Tristar [au] DVDDeath Wish 2 (1982) - Sony Pictures [au] DVDDeath Wish 2 (1982) -Umbrella Entertainment [au] DVD

 

 

TV Screenings

In September 2005, DEATH WISH 2 premiered on Foxtel's Showtime Greats Channel. At 85:35, it was over two minutes shorter than the uncut DVD. It did however include slightly more footage than the old RCA/Columbia VHS release. The rape of Rosaria was slightly longer, as was the rape and death of Kersey's daughter. The print was credited to Sony Pictures International Television.

 

 

Michael Winner on DEATH WISH 2's rape scenes

This YouTube clip from 1982 has Michael Winner being taken to task by journalist Anna Raeburn on the sexual violence, and in her opinion, general poor quality of DEATH WISH 2. It also covers the UK censorship where it lost four minutes at the hands of James Ferman's BBFC.

 

 

 

 

Death Wish 3

Directed by Michael Winner / 1985 / USA / IMDb

Hoyts Distribution had a 2479.00-meter (90:36) print of DEATH WISH 3 banned in November 1985. The reason given was violence, which was described as:
Frequency: Frequent Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous

A censored print, running 2468.70-meters (90:14) was passed with an R-rating in March 1986. The violence was now described as:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

This was the version of DEATH WISH 3 that went on to have a theatrical release in Australia.

 

Hoyts Distribution had DEATH WISH 3 back before the censors in late April 1986. A 90m 'edited version' was passed with an R-rating for violence, which was once more described as:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

 

Late April to early May 1986 saw DEATH WISH 3 banned once again. This version ran 89m, and was Refused Registration due to violence, which was described as:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous

 

We presume that these latter two submissions relate to the proposed video release.

 

 

DEATH WISH 3: The censored footage

A video of DEATH WISH 3 was eventually released by RCA/Columbia with a running time of 86:28. This version was heavily censored, removes bad language, and actually runs slightly longer than the uncut version. In one scene, it makes use of alternative footage, though judging by the running time, there was obviously much more.

Some of the censored footage was as follows.

Note that the cut scene times refer to the Sony Pictures R4 DVD.

RCA/Columbia VHS - Censored (Clothed) Version - 86:28

Sony Pictures R4 DVD - Uncut (Topless) Version - 86:22

 

THE RAPE OF THE GIRL

Before (VHS) - The girls is grabbed and they begin to tear her top.

Cut - The top is torn off and they begin to fondle her breasts. (DVD 41:11 to 41:14)

After (VHS) - Old couple arrive. One of the gang tells them to "get out of here!". The DVD says, "get the fuck out of here".

 

Before (VHS) - Car stops and the girl is pulled from the car.

Cut - The girl begin pushed around and brief shots of her breasts. (DVD 41:57 to 41:60)

After/Before (VHS) - Girl is carried down the corridor, followed by a shot of one of the gang pushing her.

Cut - The girl lands on the mattress, the gang jump on top and fondle her breasts. (DVD 42:07 to 42:18)

After - Man saying "They raped her"

 

THE TOPLESS GIRL

At 74:21 in the DVD, the topless girl is dragged from the house by the gang. In the VHS, she has a top on. The scene goes on to show several other shots of her.

At 74:30 to 74:32 she is carried up the stairs, again alternative clothed footage is used in the VHS.

At 74:36 to 74:38, she runs topless to escape gunshots.

Again, she is clothed in the VHS.

 

Before (VHS) - Bronson shoots the gang member in the blue T-shirt. He falls backwards down the stairs and we see a brief shot of the bloodstain on his T-shirt.

Cut - The fall continues to the bottom of the stairs. We also see a brief shot of the girl's face as she cries and cowers in the doorway. (DVD 74:44 to 74:48)

After - Shot of Bronson's face.

 

SHOOTING BURNING VICTIMS

Before - The gang throws petrol bombs into a house, which then explodes.

 Cut - Two people run from the house on fire. The gang leader machine-guns them. (DVD 76:13 to 76:23)

After - Gang members running away from the police.

 

We believe that this is just a small sample of the cuts/alternative footage in the RCA/Columbia VHS. Please send in any other details if you spot them.

 

Death Wish 3 (1985) - RCA/Columbia Home Video [au] VHS

 

 

TV Screenings and DVD Releases

In 2002, Foxtel's Encore Channel premiered an 85:30 censored version of DEATH WISH 3. The station had awarded it an MA15+ rating.  

In April 2006, Sony Pictures released the DEATH WISH: THE VIGILANTE COLLECTION. This set contains all five parts of the series, including an uncut (86:22) version of DEATH WISH 3.

The film was released for a second time on DVD in August 2014, this time by Umbrella Entertainment. We require confirmation if it was uncut.

 

Death Wish 3 (1985) - Sony Pictures [au] DVDDeath Wish 3 (1985) - Umbrella Entertainment [au] DVD


 

 

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