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.
Magnetic Video issued THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK on tape in the early 80s.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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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
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.
In 1976, the Censorship Board banned a 98m print of PINK FLAMINGOS. The distributor, Windsor Theatres, removed 4m of footage to gain and R-rating for a theatrical release.
It was during the video revolution of the 80s that PINK FLAMINGOS really ran in trouble with the Australian censors. It was banned four times between 1981 and 1983.
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 exist in the X category, and horror films were awarded the rating. The guidelines were swiftly tightened up to remove violence, though pro-censorship groups will try to tell you otherwise.
Here is a list of titles that contain violence which were passed with X-ratings in 1984 to 1985. Apart from CALIGULA 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.
Palace Home Video released the X-rated version on tape, along with R-rated versions of FEMALE TROUBLE and DESPERATE LIVING. The rear cover of these latter two releases both 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.
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 in 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.
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."
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.'
We did not catch the censored R18+ theatrical run of PINK FLAMINGOS, and it was never released on tape. However, from the above description provided by the OFLC, we can guess that cuts were made to the following scenes.
There is an unofficial Australian 'No Name Label' VHS released from around 2000. Despite the R18+ rating, this was a bootleg that was never classified. Thanks to Mitch for the following information on this particular release.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.