American Horror Films of the 1970s – Page 2

1970s American horror movies that have been cut or banned in Australia.


Directed by Michael Findlay / 1975 / USA / IMDb

In May 1983, an 80-minute tape of SNUFF was Refused Registration. The reason for the decision was violence, which was described as being:
Frequency: Infrequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous

Syme Home Video was the applicant.

The final five minutes of fake snuff footage, where the girl is killed and disembowelled on the bed, would undoubtedly have been the reason for the ban.

Seized by Australian Customs Service

There is one report of a customs confiscation of SNUFF.

2000 – VHS.

Free after 22 years

In August 2005, SNUFF was passed with an R18+ (High level violence) rating. The following month, Stomp Visual issued it on DVD.

Snuff (1975) - DVD cover 1
DVD – Stomp Visual

The release was the same as the American DVD from Blue Underground that ran 79:49 (NTSC). In true exploitation style, the packaging was made to look like a brown paper bag. No distributor is listed and the disc has no chapter stops. Unfortunately, this illusion does work in Australia when you are forced to add a government-approved R18+ rating.

Stomp also added a sticker to the cover that plays up the fact that the film was once banned in the UK. It features the Union Jack flag, over which the following is written.

September 2005
An originally banned video nasty.
Video Nasty was a term coined in the United Kingdom in the 1980s that applied to a number of films distributed on video that were held by some to be unfit for domestic viewing.

– Snuff (1975), Stomp Visual DVD cover

A more exploitable angle would have been to play up the fact that SNUFF was once banned in Australia.

Stomp Visual also added this sticker to DVDs of CONTAMINATION (1980) and FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE (1977). Both were also imports from Blue Underground.

In October 1985, CBS/Fox Video received an R-rating for FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE (1977). However, no release eventuated.

Mardi Gras Massacre

Directed by Jack Weis / 1978 / USA / IMDb

In December 1986, a 92-minute tape of MARDI GRAS MASSACRE on the Gold Key Video label was banned by the Film Censorship Board.

The reason given was violence, which was described as being:
Frequency: Infrequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous

What was the violence?

Chris reports.
Gold Star (uk) – VHS – 94:51 (PAL)
The only violence takes place in three scenes at 09:30, 30:30, and 55:30. Each features a different naked prostitute chained to a table who is murdered in a near-exact same way. Their hand is stabbed, their foot slashed and finally, their heart is cut out.

The Gold Key Video mystery

Chris reports.
In the mid-1990s, I remember seeing a VHS copy of MARDI GRAS MASSACRE at Bob Gould’s book store in Leichhardt. It is possible it was an import of either the Gold Star or Marker UK pre-certs. The reason I think this is because I distinctly remember they also had a copy of the Videospace/Arcade release of DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE (1979). It is unclear how this British video nasty had ended up for rent in Australia, but Gould’s was a real dumping ground for so many obscure tapes.

If there is a Gold Key Video release, then it would surely be one of the rarest Australian tapes.

The Toolbox Murders

Directed by Dennis Donnelly / 1978 / USA / IMDb

THE TOOLBOX MURDERS was never picked up for Australian theatrical or video release.

Abandoned MUFF screening

The Melbourne Underground Film Festival included THE TOOLBOX MURDERS in their 2004 program.

July 2004
A cheapjack, sleazy, serial-killer thriller that has Cameron Mitchell running amok with power tools and a moonlighting porn star in one of many deadly encounters. Mitchell who’s idea for playing a serial killer seems to have been hatched by observing the guys from the other end of the bar that he was drinking in before coming to work, is allowed to chew the scenery in an unbelievable manic turn that’ll have you shuddering in disbelief and that’s not even considering the amazing and prolonged moments of violence, general non-acting and super surprise ‘sicko’ ending.

3pm, Saturday, July 17 at George Cinemas

– Melbourne Underground Film Festival

When the OFLC became aware of this, they contacted the MUFF who then dropped it, and three other features from the program.

July 14, 2014
The following films have been banned from MUFF by the OFLC:

– Melbourne Underground Film Festival

Inconsistent decisions

Simon reports.
Blue Underground i(us) – DVD – 93:42 (NTSC)
What were the OFLC doing refusing a film festival exemption for THE TOOLBOX MURDERS?

Compare some of the films that they passed around the same time.
June 2004 – MANIAC (1980)
June 2004 – THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972)
August 2005 – THE NEW YORK RIPPER (1982)

All were uncut, R-rated, and available for home viewing. However, in July 2004 they would not even allow THE TOOLBOX MURDERS to be screened in the restricted space of a Film Festival. It is much tamer than the aforementioned titles and would be R-rated if submitted for classification.

The Driller Killer

Directed by Abel Ferrara / 1979 / USA / IMDb

In September 1982, Video Classics had an 86-minute tape of THE DRILLER KILLER banned.

This was followed in July 1983 by the refusal of a 90-minute tape from Syme Home Video.

Neither label released the film.

Censored & R-rated

In November 1984, it was banned again, this time in the form of a 2589.00-meter (94:22) print.

An R-rating was finally awarded to an 88:59 ‘reduced version’ in September 1985.

The applicant in both cases was 14th Mandolin who went on to release it twice on tape.

The first was on their King of Video label.

The Driller Killer (1979) - Advertisement 1
Ad – King of Video
The Driller Killer (1979) - VHS videotape 1
VHS – King of Video

The second was on their Box Office Int Video. The tape however still identifies it as King of Video.

The Driller Killer (1979) - VHS videotape 2
VHS – Box Office Int.

The murder of the vagrants at approximately 36:00 and 50:00 both look shortened. Also missing, at 55:00, is the infamous drill through the head scene.

Seized by Customs

There is one report of a customs confiscation of THE DRILLER KILLER.

1991 October – VHS.

See also NEKROMANTIK (1987) in the Film Censorship Database No. 1 for more information regarding this case.

Previously banned, again released cut

In March 2004, a 95-minute version was passed with an MA (High level violence) rating.

The Driller Killer (1979) - DVD cover 1
DVD – Umbrella

Umbrella Entertainment attached a sticker to the cover of the DVD stating that it was ‘Previously Banned. Now Released Uncut’. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a 94:20 censored print.

It is unclear how they obtained this version, as the complete film would undoubtedly have been passed, if not MA, then definitely with an R-rating.

This appears to have originated from the 1999 UK Visual Entertainment DVD release. Movie-Censorship has a detailed comparison between it (same as Umbrella’s) and the uncut American Cult Epics DVD.

Censored on World Movies

THE DRILLER KILLER had its Australian TV Premiere on 9 December 2006 on the World Movies pay-TV channel. It was shown as part of their B-Mania season.

Sean reports.
The World Movies screening of THE DRILLER KILLER was the same as the cut Umbrella DVD. I contacted the channel to try to get some answers.

December 17, 2006
Thanks for screening the B Movie season. This is something I’d like to see much more of on World Movies. The main reason that I am writing is concerning the screening of DRILLER KILLER last Saturday. I was hoping that you would screen the uncut version, but instead it was censored. I am very disappointed that you did this, and hope that it is not a sign of increasing censorship on the channel. The version that was shown had an MA rating. I know that (unlike Showtime), you can screen R-rated films. Why not leave it uncut, and give it an R-rating?

– To: World Movies
– From: Sean

December 28, 2006
You’re right, we did screen the MA version of DRILLER KILLER. Unfortunately, this was the only print we were able to source in time, and we preferred to screen this version than not include Abel Ferrara in the season at all. In all cases, we prefer to screen films uncut, as the director intended, however in this instance we felt the film was worthy at any cost, so we sourced what we could at the time. It’s certainly not an indication of censorship.

– To: Sean
– From: World Movies

To be honest I did not believe a channel that screens uncut versions of IRREVERSIBLE (2002), ROMANCE (1999), IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES (1976) and THE IDIOTS (1999), would then deliberately censor something like this.

Presumably, this print was sourced from Umbrella. It is bizarre to think that a cut version that was originally prepared to get past the BBFC (who since passed it uncut), has now turned up on DVD and TV in Australia.

Two DVDs – versions unknown

In March 2012, Unearthed Entertainment/Gryphon Entertainment issued THE DRILLER KILLER on DVD.

The Driller Killer (1979) - DVD cover 2
DVD – Gryphon

This was followed in July 2013 by a release from Shock Entertainment as part of their Cinema Cult range.

The Driller Killer (1979) - DVD cover 3
DVD – Shock

Neither was resubmitted for classification and both label the film with the same MA15+ (High level violence) as the Umbrella DVD. Please e-mail us if you own either of these discs, as we would like to know which version they contain.

Further reading

For more censored Abel Ferrara, see the database entry for FEAR CITY (1984).

Don’t Go in the House

Directed by Joseph Ellison / 1980 / USA / IMDb

DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE was never picked up for an Australian theatrical release.

Customs seize 20 videos

There is one report of a customs confiscation.

1991 October – VHS.

See also NEKROMANTIK (1987) in the Film Censorship Database No. 1 for more information regarding this case.

VHS censored & M-rated

In March 1993, a precut version of DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE was passed with an M (Medium level violence) rating.

It is unknown why 21st Century Pictures did not submit an uncut print.

Don't Go in the House (1980) - VHS videotape 1
VHS – 21st Century

The running time was 75:44, which compares to 79:01 for the UK pre-cert release from Videospace/Arcade.

In 1987, Apex Distribution had a tape passed, after 03:07 of cuts, with an 18 rating by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). This may be the origin of the Australian release, as the running times are very similar.