1980s American horror movies that have been cut or banned in Australia.
Eyes of a Stranger
Directed by Ken Wiederhorn / 1981 / USA / IMDb
In February 1981, a 2312.5-meter (84:17) print of EYES OF A STRANGER was Refused Registration because of violence. It was described as being:
The Films Review Board overturned the ban and awarded it an R-rating in February 1981.
The applicant was Warner Bros, while the distributor was Roadshow.
Warner Home Video released it on tape in 1982.
In February 1984, it became law for all videotapes to be classified. The Film Censorship Board then began the slow task of reviewing all the titles that had been released up until that time. They finally got to EYES OF A STRANGER in January 1985.
The R-rating was confirmed for the 81-minute tape. However, the violence was now described as:
This release became sought after by overseas video collectors as it contained 30-seconds that had been removed from the MPAA R-Rated version. It was not until 2007 that the uncut print was made available on DVD in America.
Directed by John Irvin / 1981 / USA / IMDb
In February 1982, a 2940.85-meter (107:12) print of GHOST STORY was passed with an R-rating. It was awarded for sex, which was described as being:
A 110:29 version was rated X by the British Board of Film Censorship in December 1981. This indicates that United International Pictures (UIP) had precensored the film in Australia in the hope of achieving an M classification.
In April 1982, UIP achieved this following an appeal to the Films Board of Review. However, it was not before a further 8.00-meters (00:17) of cuts were made.
Robert Hoskin reports.
I can identify the extra 00:17 censored for an M-rating. Just under a third of the way through, a couple is shown having sex, before rolling off the bed and continuing on the floor. This takes place in a darkened room and is quite tame. Most of this would appear to have been removed for the M-rated version. Following the sex, it cuts to them sitting up in bed, drinking and kissing.
Uncut on video
In November 1984, a CIC-TAFT Video had a 106-minute tape of GHOST STORY passed with an R-rating. It was awarded for the same reasons as the February 1982 submission.
A second 106-minute tape was passed with an R-rating in March 1985. Pacific Seven was the applicant.
Both tapes were presumably uncut, with the shorter running time being due to them being in the PAL format.
Directed by Romano Scavolini / 1981 / USA / IMDb
In 1984, Video Classics released NIGHTMARE as part of their Gold range.
Despite the R-rating on cover, it has not been classified.
This 99:24 uncut version was sought after by overseas collectors as it contained a dialogue that, apart from the Dutch Video for Pleasure VHS, was not present in any other version. The Australian one was considered superior as it did not have subtitles.
Overseas demand has dropped since the complete film has become available on DVD and Blu-ray, but locally it has increased. This is now one of the titles that Australian video collectors most desire.
In January 1985, Video Classics had a 100-minute tape of NIGHTMARE Refused Registration. It was banned because of violence, which was described as being:
This was presumably a delayed submission of the aforementioned tape.
They censored it down to 96-minutes, but in February 1985, this too was banned. The violence was now described as:
Reasons for the refusal
Video Classics Gold (au) – VHS – 99:24
27:00 – George (Baird Stafford) slashing the woman’s throat and stabbing her in the stomach.
83:15 – Joey being garrotted followed by the graphic hammer murder of the babysitter.
94:00 – George decapitating the woman (Christina Keefe) who is sitting on top of his father (William Kirksey), followed by the axe in his father’s head. Parts of this scene are replayed throughout the film as George has flashbacks. They can be found at 08:30, 17:00, 30:40, and 60:00.
All violence, no context
In March 1985, the TERROR ON TAPE (1983) compilation video was banned by the Film Censorship Board because of ‘excessive violence’. It featured clips from various horror movies, including several scenes from NIGHTMARE.
They are, C.J. shooting George through the door, the hammer in the back of the babysitter, George axing his father in the head, the girl’s throat being cut and the decapitation of father’s lover.
See the separate entry for this title in our Film Censorship Database No. 1.
Third time lucky
In August 1985, a 95-minute tape was passed with an R-rating. It was awarded for:
Other: Sexual allusions
This version was never released, as Video Classics had just been placed in provisional liquidation.
Trouble in South Australia
In November 1986, the uncut Video Classics Gold tape was seized by the South Australian Police.
It was refused again for the same reasons as the initial January 1985 submission. That was violence, described as:
Retitled & Re-cut
In May 1987, Palace Home Video retitled NIGHTMARE to SCHIZO and received an R-rating from the Film Censorship Board.
It was issued on their Palace Explosive label.
This particular release was heavily censored and ran only 89:03.
Censored from Palace Explosive’s VHS
Video Classics Gold (au) – VHS – 99:24
Palace Explosive Video (au) – VHS – 89:03
Time refers to the Video Classics tape.
This is not a comprehensive list, as there are other small trims to various scenes.
08:30 – Flashback to the decapitation of the father’s lover.
17:00 – Another flashback to the above scene.
27:00 – The girl getting her throat cut and stabbed in the chest is heavily cut.
60:00 – Missing shot of George swinging axe towards his father.
83:15 – The garrotting of Joey looks like it may have lost a few seconds. The death of the babysitter is heavily censored. Surprisingly the PEV tape shows the shot of the hammer in the hand but removes all the blows to her back.
94:00 – The decapitation of the father’s lover and the axe in the head of the father is nearly totally removed from the PEV tape. Only the first swing of the axe is shown. It even removes the bloody George sitting down in the chair after the murder.
97:00 – Another shot of the bloody George has been entirely removed.
aka The Prowler
Directed by Joseph Zito / 1981 / USA / IMDb
In December 1982, ROSEMARY’S KILLER was Refused Registration when Video Classics submitted a 2413.8-meter (87:59) print.
The reason given for the ban was violence, which was described as:
In February 1984, Video Classics had an 84:10 tape passed with an R-rating.
This censored version was released on their Gold label.
The year of the X
In July 1984, Video Classics had a 90-minute tape of ROSEMARY’S KILLER passed with an X-rating. Presumably, this was the uncut version.
The X was introduced in February 1984. Until mid-1985, it was considered not only for hardcore films but also for material that was too extreme for an R-rating. During this time, titles such as CALIGULA (1979) were passed uncut. The guidelines were soon tightened, and violent content was removed until it became the exclusive home of hardcore pornography.
Banned, but passed on appeal
In August 1985, the censored Video Classics Gold tape was banned by the Film Censorship Board. Once more, the reason given was violence, which was described as:
An appeal was immediately made to the Film Board of Review. In August 1985, they set aside the decision and awarded ROSEMARY’S KILLER an R-rating.
Video Classics Gold cuts
Daniel S. reports.
Video Classics Gold (au) – VHS – 84:10
Time refers to the location where the scene begins in the Video Classics tape.
This version is still quite graphic, but minor cuts were made to five of the murders. These are so brief that it is difficult to tell that footage has been trimmed. Considering what remains, it is a mystery why the Censorship Board bothered.
Murder of Roy and Rosemary
Censored at 08:30 by 00:02
Before – The killer stabs Roy (Timothy Wahrer) with the pitchfork. Rosemary (Joy Glaccum) screams ‘No!’
Censored – The killer’s boot pushing the pitchfork into Roy’s back.
After/Before – Rosemary again screaming ‘No!’
Censored – Second shot of the killer’s boot pushing the pitchfork into Roy’s back.
After – Blood gushing from Rosemary’s back, followed by a shot of the killer’s boot (this time uncensored) pushing the pitchfork further in.
Murder of Carl
Censored at 21:15 by 00:03
Before – Carl (David Sederholm) sitting up. The killer grabs him and holds a knife above his head.
Censored – Shot of the blade entering the top of Carl’s skull and exiting through his throat.
After – Shot of Carl struggling with the knife through his head followed by Sherry (Lisa Dunsheath) in the shower.
Murder of Sherry
Censored at 22:15 by 00:03
Before – The killer stabs Sherry in the chest with a pitchfork. She is shown with blood coming from her mouth.
Censored – Shot of the fork in her chest with blood flowing from the wounds.
After/Before – Shot of the killer using the pitchfork to push Sherry up the wall.
Censored – A second shot of the fork in her chest and blood flowing from the wounds.
After – Shot of Sherry’s face as she reaches forward.
Murder of Lisa
Censored at 48:00 by 00:05
Before – The killer attacks Lisa (Cindy Weintraub) from behind and cuts her neck with a blade. This is followed by several shots of her legs thrashing around in the water and of the knife cutting her neck.
Censored – A shot of the killer moving the knife around in her neck.
After – Underwater shot of Lisa’s body sinking.
Murder of Miss Allison
Censored at 51:30 by 00:06
Before – The killer grabs Miss Allison (Donna Davis) from behind and stabs her throat with a knife. A shot of the knife in her throat with blood flowing out.
Censored – Another shot of her throat with much more blood flowing out.|
After – Shot of her feet covered with blood.
Violent clips now okay
On 7 April 1986, SCREAM GREATS VOLUME 1: TOM SAVINI (1985) was passed with an R-rating.
It was awarded for violence, which was described as:
Other: Horror Special Effects
The 54-minute tape was submitted by Showcase Video.
The documentary looks at the career of the special effects artist, Tom Savini. It features his work from MANIAC (1980), FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984) and DAY OF THE DEAD (1985). All of these titles had Australian classification problems, but here, previously cut scenes are shown uncut. The Film Censorship Board was okay with a non-stop barrage of, out of context, violent clips.
From ROSEMARY’S KILLER they include:
08:09 – The killer moving the knife around in Sherry’s neck.
08:20 – The knife going into Miss Allison’s neck.
08:28 – Tom Savini plunging the knife into the top of Carl’s head and the blade exiting his throat.
Details of the clips from the three other titles are covered in their database entries.
In Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s Queensland, it was different. SCREAM GREATS VOLUME 1: TOM SAVINI (1985) was prohibited by the Queensland Films Board of Review on 27 May 1985.
In October 2007, Universal Pictures released a Region 4 DVD under the ROSEMARY’S KILLER title.
This 84:36 uncut print was not shown to the Classification Board, so carried no consumer advice.
Officially uncut after 31-years
In August 2013, a 186-minute DVD was passed with an R18+ (Horror violence) rating. The extended classification information described,
High impact: Violence
Moderate impact: Themes, nudity
Mild impact: Language, sex
Umbrella Entertainment released it on DVD and Blu-ray in October 2013 as THE PROWLER. The cover advertised that it was ‘Previously banned! Now released uncut!’
The Slumber Party Massacre
Directed by Amy Jones / 1982 / USA / IMDb
In November 1982, a 2086.00-meter (76:02) print of THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE was banned because of violence. It was described as being:
A censored 2084.00-meter (75:58) print was passed with an R-rating in December 1982.
With the 00:04 of cuts, the violence was now described as:
Hoyts Distribution went on to release this print theatrically.
In August 1985, a 73:02 (PAL) video was passed with an R-rating. Communications and Entertainment released the tape on their Embassy Home Entertainment label.
Once again, the violence was described as being:
This version appears to be uncut.
In 2005, Umbrella Entertainment released a 73:03 (PAL) version on DVD.
Again, this version appears to be complete.