American Horror Films of the 1980s – Page 4

1980s American horror movies that have been cut or banned in Australia.

Terror on Tape

Directed by Robert Worms / 1983 / USA / IMDb

In March 1985, Hoyts Distribution had an 85-minute video of TERROR ON TAPE banned because of ‘excessive violence’. It was described as being:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous

The American VHS from Continental Video release ran 83:59 (NTSC).

All the films & their classifications

In TERROR ON TAPE, Cameron Mitchell plays a video-store clerk who is visited by three different customers on Halloween. He recommends them movies by playing various gory clips. Presumably, the Film Censorship Board refused it due to the cumulative impact of the out of context violence.

These featured titles held ratings around the time of the refusal.

BLOOD FEAST (1963) – Mar. 1985 – R
BLOOD TIDE (1982) – Aug. 1984 – M
CATHY’S CURSE (1977) – Sep. 1984 – M
CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD (1980) – Feb. 1984 – M
DEADLY SPAWN, THE (1983) – Apr. 1985 – R
RUBY (1977) – Dec. 1984 – R
SCALPS (1983) – M-rated, Mar. 1988 – M
SLAYER, THE (1982) – Feb. 1984 – R
TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER (1976) – Mar. 1976 – R
TWO THOUSAND MANIACS! (1964) – Feb. 1985 – R
VAMPIRE HOOKERS (1978) – Sep. 1984 – M

These featured titles had never before been submitted for a rating.


These featured titles had problems and are covered in Film Censorship Database No. 1.

COLOR ME BLOOD RED (1965) – May 1985 – RR
NIGHTMARE (1981) – Jan. 1985 – RR
PREY (1978) – Sep. 1979 – R with cuts

All the ‘excessive violence’

Some of the following scenes from banned or unrated films probably contributed to TERROR ON TAPE being Refused Registration.

28:00 – THE EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW (1974) A woman is crucified through the hands and feet.

31:00 – NIGHTMARE (1981) C.J. shoots the killer through the door.

47:00 – COLOR ME BLOOD RED (1965) Girl killed by a knife in the head.

59:00 – NIGHTMARE (1981) The babysitter being killed with the hammer in the back.

63:00 – NIGHTMARE (1981) George axing his father in the head.

67:00 – COLOR ME BLOOD RED (1965) Dead woman tied up with her guts hanging out.

69:00 – PREY (1978) The entire cannibalism scene that had been censored for an R-rating.

74:00 – NIGHTMARE (1981) The girl’s throat is cut.

78:00 – NIGHTMARE (1981) Decapitation of father’s lover.

80:00 to 81:00 – A fast-cut compilation of much of all the previously screened violence.

Much of the other gore comes from Umberto Lenzi’s CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD (1980). In February 1984, as NIGHTMARE CITY, Filmways had an 88-minute tape passed with an M-rating. This tape was never released.

Violent clip compilations & the censor

The Censorship Board classified the following titles that assembled a series of violent clips. All contain footage from previously banned or cut films.

THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE (1982) – Jun. 1982 – R – Video Classics (unreleased)

SCREAM GREATS, VOLUME 1: TOM SAVINI (1986) – Apr. 1986 – R – Showcase Video

ZOMBIETHON (1986) – Sep. 1988 – R – Virgin Video

Combat Shock

Directed by Buddy Giovinazzo / 1984 / USA / IMDb

In October 1986, an ‘edited version’ of COMBAT SHOCK was passed with an R-rating. It was awarded for:

Frequency: Infrequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

In November 1986, a 100-minute version was banned because of violence, which was described as being:
Frequency: Infrequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous

In both cases, Delta Home Video was the applicant. They went on to release two versions on tape.

The first was censored and ran 93:40. This was presumably the ‘edited version ‘that received an R-rating in October 1986. The cuts are detailed below.

The second ran 95:13 and included extra scenes of violence. This was presumably the one that was refused in November 1986. It is unclear how this tape came to be released.

Combat Shock (1984) - VHS videotape 1
VHS – Delta

Both share the same cover and list a 105-minute running time on their spines. The only way to tell them apart is by running time or checking for cuts.

Banned in Queensland

On 3 November 1986, the 93-minute ‘edited version’ of Delta Home Video’s COMBAT SHOCK was prohibited by the Queensland Films Board of Review.

DVD release

In March 2011, COMBAT SHOCK was released on DVD by Jigsaw Entertainment, through Gryphon Entertainment.

Combat Shock (1984) - DVD cover 1
DVD – Jigsaw

It was described as a ‘2-Disc Uncut 25th Anniversary Edition’. It includes the 91:39 (NTSC) Theatrical Cut.

Delta’s censored video

Simon reports.
Delta Home Video (au) – VHS – 93:40
Jigsaw Entertainment (au) – DVD – 91:39 (Theatrical Cut)

Beginning at 86:18 (DVD) the VHS is missing the following.

Cathy (Veronica Stork) lying on the floor gurgling blood from her mouth.

Frankie (Rick Giovinazzo) shooting his mutant baby and a shot of it coughing up blood.

Frankie walking into the kitchen, standing over a pool of blood on the floor before bending down to put his baby in the oven.

Frankie looking over to see blood coming from the oven.

Blood pumping from Frankie’s head wound after he has shot himself.

Apart from the shot of blood seeping from the oven, all these scenes are in the Theatrical cut. Movie-Censorship has a comparison between this and the longer 96:44 Director’s Cut.

Delta’s version is preceded by the Troma Team intro. If their ‘uncut’ tape ran 95:13, then it indicates it could be different to both the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Directed by Joseph Zito / 1984 / USA / IMDb

In May 1984, a 2496.00-meter (90:59) print of FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER was passed with an R-rating.

This was followed by a 93-minute version in November 1984.

In both cases, United International Pictures received R-ratings for violence, which was described as:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) - Australian daybill movie poster 1
Daybill via moviemem

Banned & censored videos

In January 1985, an 89-minute video was Refused Registration due to violence, which was described as being:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous

The following month, a censored 86-minute tape was passed with an R-rating. The violence was now said to be:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

In both cases, the applicant was CIC-TAFT Video.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) - VHS videotape 1

The 86:44 tape was missing Jason’s machete death scene.

Refusal overturned

United International Pictures had a 1001.10-meter (91:14) 16mm print Refused Registration in July 1985. The reason was violence, which was again described as being:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous

An appeal to the Films Board of Review resulted in an R-rating being awarded in August 1985.

Uncut machete death

In April 1986, SCREAM GREATS VOLUME 1: TOM SAVINI (1985) was passed with an R-rating. At 13:38, it includes the full version of Jason’s machete death scene that had been removed from the CIC-TAFT tape.

The classification of this title is covered in more depth in the ROSEMARY’S KILLER (1981) entry.

VHS No. 2 – uncut

In 1994, CIC-TAFT released an 87:34 uncut version sell-through video.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) - VHS videotape 2

It can be identified by the words HORROR HOUSE UNLIMITED on the front cover. There is no consumer advice as it had not been resubmitted to the OFLC.

Censored Foxtel

In 2002, an 87:15 version of FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER began screening on Foxtel’s Encore channel.

Jason was shown getting the machete in the face, but his subsequent death scene was missing.

Complete DVDs

Paramount’s R4 DVD, released in July 2002, ran 87:34.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) - DVD cover 1
DVD – Paramount

It was reissued in 2009 with new packaging.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) - DVD cover 2
DVD – Paramount

Both discs are uncut.

The Mutilator

aka Fall Break

Directed by Buddy Cooper / 1985 / USA / IMDb

In September 1985, Platinum Video had an 86-minute tape of THE MUTILATOR banned because of violence, which was described as:
Frequency: Infrequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous

It was submitted under its alternative title of FALL BREAK.

How to censor a film

It appears Platinum Video was planning to resubmit a censored version but closed soon after. Mark Savage, the Director of SENSITIVE NEW AGE KILLER (2000), documents his involvement in editing the violence.

September 16, 2009
In the mid-80’s I worked for a Melbourne production company. It was based in Blackburn, an Eastern suburb, and was, for a time, a hive of activity. We produced commercials and corporate videos, but the company had tape dubbing (VHS) contracts with Palace Home Video, K-Tel Video (what a classic catalog that was!), and various porno companies like Caballero.

I did a bit of everything. When I started there, I did the graveyard shift (it was the only shift available); that lasted for close to a year. It totally fucked up my sleeping patterns and turned me into a zombie, but it got me through the door and into production. Initially, I dubbed K-Tel titles and porn. Since the company was a “respectable” outfit, all porno dubbing was done outside of regular office hours.

…a couple of months later, I was working the day shift. I was dubbing and doing production now. Anything involving “weird” movies would be pushed in my direction. Anyway, Ross limped out to see me in the studio. I was changing light bulbs.

“I have a little job for you, mate, ” he said. “Walk this way.”

I did just that. I limped behind him to the office. Whenever Ross said “walk this way”, employees would walk like he walked. He didn’t mind them taking the piss. He was more sensitive about chainsaws and legs.

He led me into his office and placed a blank looking VHS in front of me that had a tiny, hand-scribbled label on it. It read “Mute.”

“I got a call from a bloke,” Ross began. “Said he’s got this stupid horror film for distribution.”

“Mute?” I said.

“No. The title’s THE MUTILATOR. It’s some rubbish about a bloke going around chopping up girls in bikinis. Blood and guts stuff. Real garbage.”

I looked at the tape. “I’ve heard of this.”

Ross looked at me with unconvincingly veiled disgust. “I thought you’d say that.” He sighed. “Look, Marky (yes, he called me Marky), the film’s already been to the censor, and they banned it. Too bloody. I need you to make it a little less bloody. Make it nicer. Alright?”


“Marky, it’s not all about blood and guts, you know. Even though you might find blokes getting their legs chainsawed funny, most normal people don’t think that way. Capisce?”

I nodded. “But it’s a horror film, Ross.”

Ross fumed. “Do something with it, would ya? Make the killings a bit nicer.”


As I left the room, he fired a parting shot: “And don’t let me hear you laughing at people being killed.”

Jesus, this guy really didn’t get it.

My first task was to watch the film from beginning to end. I liked it immediately. A kid accidentally kills his mother and gets beaten by his dad (who then gives the corpse of his wife a drink). I didn’t laugh at that.

In consistent slasher form, the film speeds ahead ten years and establishes the kid as a moronic, wise-ass teenager. The plot involves a group of teens (male and female) helping to close dear old dad’s beach property. Trouble is, daddy’s still lurking about, and he’s not welcoming.

Although the film was slow at times, I was impressed. It was genuinely gory and the atmosphere was kinda dirty and macabre in the way Scavolini’s NIGHTMARE (one of my favorites) was dirty and macabre (although that’s better).

The gore effects (by Mark Shostrum) were quite good. There was a lovely death by fish hook, the cutting of a youngster’s throat, and a head impaling.

By lunchtime, I was was hooked. This was a great little film. I needed my own copy.

Then I remembered that my job was to make the killings “nicer”. What the fuck!? How could I make someone chopped in half by a car “nice”? How could I make stabbings “nice”? Most importantly, how could make shoving a fish hook up a girl’s vagina and out her belly “nice”?

Fuck that! I thought. I ain’t nice’ing up no fuckin’ gore film. Hell, that’d be like betraying my family.

By the end of the day, I was in a state of deep anxiety. I’d been watching the gore scenes over and over again because I liked them. I could see where stuff could be cut, but there was no way I was going to do that. I just couldn’t. Around 6 o’clock, Ross dropped by.

“How’s the cutting going, Marky?”


“Not much in there to laugh about, is there?”

“So you’ve seen it, Ross?”

“Fuck no. I don’t need to see a turd to know it stinks.”

With that pearl of high wisdom, he limped off, leaving me to ponder my future with the company.

I tossed and turned that night. I had a serious moral dilemma. Do I mutilate THE MUTILATOR to keep the boss happy, or do I say no to mutilation and retain my integrity?

Or was I just being a young idiot?

Well, I did cut THE MUTILATOR, and it did make the boss happy.

And I got to be a young idiot, too.

Around 3 o’clock the following afternoon, I announced to Ross that THE MUTILATOR job was done.

“How much did you cut out of it, Marky?”

“Twenty minutes.”


Ross suddenly looked like Marilyn Chambers had just agreed to give him a blowie. He was all smiles.

He even slapped me on the back buddy-style. “Twenty minutes?! Well done, Marky. It’s not all about blood and guts, is it? Eh?”

I gave him a fake nod of victory and said “Nah.”

Ross limped home a happy man.

I bathed in the glow of his satisfaction for a couple of minutes.

If you’ve seen THE MUTILATOR, you know it has a lot of slow spots. Hell, there’s a twenty-five minute slow spot in which almost nothing happens.

Well, that’s what got mutilated.

I spared director Buddy Cooper the indignity of having his name on a “nice” slasher film, I made Ross (who I knew would never watch the film) a happy man, and I got shifted out of my Jack Of All Trades role a month or so later (by Ross) because he was convinced he’d made me see the error of my blood and guts ways. Somehow, it got me respect.

I guess he figured I could now be trusted not to get all orgasmic about the latest chainsawed leg or stabbed vagina on a film shoot at a church candle factory.

So what did the censor do with the re-edited, faster, just as gory version of THE MUTILATOR?

Fuck all!

The re-edited master tape sat on Ross’s shelf for six months. The upstart distribution company that had planned to release the film on VHS in Australia mysteriously folded a couple of weeks after they’d given Ross the job.

Clearly, somebody down there liked me.

– Mutilating The Mutilator

Cut for an R-rating

In 1987, Palace Home Video submitted an 87-minute tape as THE MUTILATOR.

It was again banned by the Censorship Board because of violence, which was described as:
Frequency: Infrequent
Explicitness/Intensity: High
Purpose: Gratuitous

Palace removed over two minutes of footage and was awarded an R-rating in March 1987. The violence was now said to be:
Frequency: Infrequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

The tape runs 83:53.

The Mutilator (1985) - VHS videotape 1
VHS – Palace

The cover identifies it as a Palace Home Video release, but Palace Explosive Video appears before the film. This makes it one of their 39 releases.

Palace VHS vs. uncut version

Matt reports
Dragon Film Entertainment (de) – DVD – 86:13
Palace Home Video (au) – VHS – 83:53
Times refer to the DVD.
PHV VHS has been censored in the following scenes.

Death of Ed’s mother
01:30 – The first shotgun blast to the back is shown but the replay is missing.

Big Ed’s dream
23:15 – The start where the axe is dragged across Ed’s (Matt Mitler) throat has been cut. The rest of the scene, where the blood flows out of the wound, is intact.

Death of Mike
39:45 – This seems to be intact in the PHV tape. It shows Mike (Morey Lampley) getting a power saw in the chest and his bloody body slowly falling to the ground. Considering the other censorship, it is odd this scene was left untouched.

Death of the cop
45:15 – Removes 00:20 of the cop getting the wood impaled through his cheek. The decapitation is also missing. It only shows his head lying on the ground and Big Ed (Jack Chatham) picking it up.

Death of Ralph
63:30 – Removes 00:40 of Ralph (Bill Hitchcock) getting the pitchfork in his neck and being impaled to the door.

Death of Sue
70:30 – The PHV tape shows the fishing gaff being held to Sue’s (Connie Rogers) crotch. It then removes around 00:25 of the hook going into her body and out of her stomach.

Death of Big Ed
80:00 – The PHV tape shows the car reversing to the wall with him holding on the back. It censors the rest of the sequence of him being crushed against the wall, the car pulling forward and his body lying in two pieces. It also removes him grabbing the axe, chopping off the cop’s leg and the bloody axe in the ground. All-up, around 00:55 is missing. The PHV tape picks up with the scene in the hospital.

Nail Gun Massacre

Directed by Bill Leslie – Terry Lofton / 1985 / USA / IMDb

In 1991, CBL Video had an 82-minute tape of NAIL GUN MASSACRE refused by the OFLC.

A censored 80:03 version was passed with an R (High level violence) rating in May 1991. The consumer advice on the cover incorrectly lists ‘Frequent violence’.

Nail Gun Massacre (1985) - VHS videotape 1
VHS – CBL Video

The cover states that it was ‘Banned in the UK’ despite it never having been submitted for classification. However, it is true that at the time, the BBFC would never have passed the film had it been presented to them. They finally got to see it in 2015 and gave it an uncut 18.

Censored Australian VHS

VUH Video (nl) – VHS – 81:48
CBL Video (au) – VHS – 80:03
Censored at – Refers to the point in CBL Video.
Many of the trims simply reduce the length of a scene. They often feature nothing more graphic than what has already been shown before.

Linda’s rape
Before – Linda (Michelle Meyer) says, ‘Stop please’ as she struggles and cries.
Censored at 00:45 by 00:25 – Extension of the rape scene. It contains nothing more explicit than what has been shown before.
After – The soundtrack jumps to a view of Linda’s face as she screams, followed by a shot of Mary-Sue hanging out the washing.

Death of the hitchhiker
Before – Bubba (Beau Leland) says, ‘You should never hitch a ride with a hearse unless you have died’. This is followed by a shot of him pointing the nail gun.
Censored at 19:43 by 00:11 – The hitchhiker (Thom Meyers) is shown lying on the ground holding his hand that has been shot.
After/Before – Bubba saying, ‘You hitch-hikers are all alike’.
Censored at 19:46 by 00:12 – Bubba continues speaking ‘…on the road’. Second shot of the hitchhiker lying on the road pleading.
After – Bubba stoops down and says, ‘Maybe we can still save ya’.

Death of Hal and Ann
Before – Bubba’s eye view walking through the bushes. As they part, there is a brief rear shot of Hal (John Rudder) and Ann (Shelly York) having sex against a tree.
Censored at 33:28 by 00:30 – A continuation of the rear view of them having sex, followed by a side view.
After/Before – Continuation of the side view of them having sex. Hal is shot in the back of the neck. The nail gun is shown and a shot heard, this is followed by Ann holding her hand against her mouth.
Censored at 34:57 by 00:02 – Ann’s naked breasts as she is shot in the chest.
After/Before – Another shot of the gun and the sound of it firing.
Censored at 34:59 by 00:03 – Another shot of her naked breasts. The camera pans up to her holding her hand against her mouth.
After – Her body falls to the ground on top of Hal.

Death of Ben
Before- Bubba says, ‘Put your hands together’. Shot of the gun being raised.
Censored at 37:36 by 00:05 – Ben’s (Michael Bendall) hands being shot with the nail gun.
After – Ben hugging the tree and saying, ‘God why me’.

Death of the Carpenters
Before- Bubba says, ‘There is one person you didn’t leave smiling’. He then shoots twice.
Censored at 47:42 by 00:07 – Shot of C1 with two nails in his face as he slides to the ground.
After/Before – Bubba talks to C2 about the rape. He eventually says, ‘The party is over’. C2 begins to sink to the ground after being shot.
Censored at 49:12 by 00:12 – He continues sliding to the ground. This is followed by another shot of the body of C1.
After – Shot of Bubba as he says ‘bye, bye’.

Death on the car
Before – Bubba says to the girl, ‘I’m sorry, you just don’t understand’. He then shoots twice.
Censored at 58:36 by 00:08 – Shot of the girl lying on the car bleeding.
After – Bubba lowering his nail gun.


Directed by David DeCoteau / 1986 / USA / IMDb

In 1988, an 83-minute VHS of DREAMANIAC banned because of ‘excessive violence’.

The applicant was Virgin Video.

All the violence

Matt reports.
Wizard Video (us) – VHS – 82:29 (NTSC).
This is a rundown of all of the violent scenes. Many are brief, relatively bloodless and sound more explicit than what is portrayed on screen.

15:00 – Adam (Thomas Bern) dreams that Lilly (Sylvia Summers) bites off his penis. He screams and she is shown with a bloody mouth.

29:15 – A girl is stabbed in the head. Only a few seconds of blood spraying on her face is shown.

38:00 – Lilly ties up a man with a power cable and electrocutes him. This is a tame scene.

44:00 – A man is stabbed to death with a knife to the back of his neck.

44:30 – A girl is hit with a poke and blood splatters on her face.

50:00 – Lilly bites off a penis. Again, there is a shot of her bloody mouth, but this time she spits the penis onto the floor. This scene is very dark, so it is not as graphic as it sounds.

55:30 – A man is stabbed in the face. This is one of the more graphic deaths.

56:00 – A brief shot of a girl having her throat cut with a razor.

61:15 – A man is garrotted in his car. This is a tame scene.

71:15 – Pat puts a drill through Adam’s hand. This is a graphic scene.

73:00 – Pat (Ashlyn Gere) puts a drill through Adams’s neck and eventually removes his head. This is the most graphic scene in the film.

A heavily censored version of DREAMANIAC was released in New Zealand by Squirm Video. Their Office of Film and Literature Classification must have removed all of the violence as they cut it from a reported 82:51 to 78:21.