The movies of Jess Franco have been cut or banned in Australia.
See also, VENUS IN FURS (1969) in the Film Censorship Database No. 2.
Virgin Among the Living Dead
Directed by Jess Franco / 1973 / Belgium – France – Italy – Liechtenstein / IMDb
In March 1995, a 77-minute tape of VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD was banned by the OFLC due to ‘gratuitous sexual violence’.
Screening Date: 22.3.95
Title: Virgin Among The Living Dead (Main Title Not in English)
(Une Vierge Chez Les Morts Vivants)
Comments: In the board’s opinion the film warrants refused for one scene of gratuitous sexual violence.
At 65 minutes Christiana is attacked by her relatives, a woman and two men. They strip her and hold her down, standing on her arms and legs. One of the men pulls his trousers down with visuals of his naked buttocks as he lays on top of her naked body. He implicitly rapes her, thrusting for a prolonged period while she cries out ‘No, no, no’ shown in medium range with close up visuals of her hands clenching and unclenching.
There is in the board’s opinion no contextual justification for this scene. It is prolonged and detailed and as such warrants Refusal.
In the Boards opinion the film contains other less lengthy and detailed depictions of violence and gratuitous female nudity which could be accommodated at R level.– Film Censorship Board report
The applicant was Siren Entertainment.
In August 1995, a censored 75:17 (PAL) VHS was awarded an R (Medium level violence, Nudity) rating.
It was released as part of Siren’s short-lived Redemption Video line.
Redemption titles – UK vs. Australia
In 1993, the Redemption Video label launched in the UK, and immediately ran into problems with the draconian British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). In 1995, they began to release select titles in Australia and the Netherlands. They promised that the films could now be seen ‘uncut in the free world’. This turned out to be true for the Netherlands, which received full versions of titles that had previously been banned by the BBFC.
Since November 1971, Australian censorship has always been more liberal than the UK, especially when it comes to violence. This allowed titles such as Jean Rollins THE LIVING DEAD GIRL (1982) to pass uncut. However, they were just as alert to sexual violence as their BBFC. In 1995, this resulted in two of Siren’s proposed titles running into problems.
Jess Franco’s THE FEMALE VAMPIRE (1973) was Refused Registration due to the combination of violence and actual sex and was never resubmitted. While Amando de Ossorio’s TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971) had to have a couple of sequences of sexual violence removed before it could secure an R-rating. Both already had previous issues with the Film Censorship Board.
In the late 1990s, VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD shown on SBS as part of their Saturday night cult movie show. It is unclear if the rape of Christiana was included.
This version was an alternative cut that included extra footage shot by Jean Rollin. It had been prepared for a 1981 rerelease by Eurociné.
Directed by Jess Franco / 1971 / West Germany – Spain / IMDb
There is one report of a customs confiscation of VAMPYRSO LESBOS in early 2004.
2004 – DVD
Presumably, the Australian Customs Service was not aware that it had already screened in the late 1990s/early 2000s on SBS TV.
Uncut & R-rated
A few months later, in April 2004, VAMPYROS LESBOS received an R (Sexual references, Nudity) rating.
The following month, the applicant, Umbrella Entertainment, released it on DVD. It was advertised as being the ‘Uncut, Uncensored, Widescreen Edition’.
In 2008, it appeared as part of their three-disc VAMPIRE COLLECTION set. This also included THIRST (1979) and NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE (1979).
A Blu-ray followed in September 2015.
The March 2017 JESS FRANCO COLLECTION DVD boxset included VAMPYROS LESBOS, as well as 99 WOMEN (1969), VENUS IN FURS (1969), SHE KILLED IN ECSTASY (1971) and EUGENIE (1973).
It was still available to stream on the SBS On Demand channel in 2020.
The Erotic Experiences of Frankenstein
Directed by Jess Franco / 1973 / Spain – France / IMDb
In February 1980, a 2005.12-meter (73.05) print of THE EROTIC EXPERIENCES OF FRANKENSTEIN was censored by 31.20-meters (01:08) for an R-rating. The cuts were made to remove ‘excessive violence’.
The reason for the R-rating was sex, which was described as being:
…and violence, which was described as:
Natan Scheinwald Productions was the applicant.
Excessive violence excised
The shorter running time of THE EROTIC EXPERIENCES OF FRANKENSTEIN indicates Australia got the unclothed/hot print of the film. Movie-Censorship has a comparison of this against the longer Spanish ‘clothed’ version known as LA MALDICIÓN DE FRANKENSTEIN.
The ‘unclothed’ version released on tape by Go Video in the UK and VML in the Netherlands are both listed as running 70:32 (25 fps). This compares to 73:05 (24 fps) for the original version submitted to our censor.
Presumably, the 01:08 of footage removed from the Australian print would have come from the scene that begins at approximately 37-minutes in the ‘unclothed’ version. It shows the male and female servants naked and tied back to back as Frankenstein’s monster whips them. Eventually, the male servant collapses and is impaled on spikes.
aka The Bare Breasted Countess
Directed by Jess Franco / 1973 / France / IMDb
In March 1980, a 2203.15-meter (80:18) print of THE BARE BREASTED COUNTESS was censored by 55.80-meters (02:02) for an R-rating. The cuts were made to remove ‘indecency and excessive violence’.
The R-rating was awarded for sex, which was found to be:
…and the violence:
Cosmopolitan Motion Pictures was the applicant.
Unreleased video No. 1
In 1983, Syme Home Video had a 90-minute tape banned because of sex, which was said to be:
Unreleased video No. 2
The X-rating was introduced in February 1984, and for the first two years, violence was permitted. This allowed Platinum Video to receive this new classification in September 1985 for an 88-minute tape.
It was awarded for sex, which was said to be:
This was the same levels of sex that only two years earlier had seen it refused. We do not believe that Platinum Video released the tape.
This and the Syme Home Video submissions were made under THE BARE BREASTED COUNTESS title.
New title, same result
In 1995, Siren Entertainment had a 98-minute tape of THE FEMALE VAMPIRE banned by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) due to a combination of actual sex and violence.
This was due to be one of the initial titles in their Redemption Video range.
Screening Date: 26.4.95
Title: Female Vampire
Comments: In the Board’s opinion, this erotic nudity-laden and heavily sexually-orientated horror video warrants a Refuse classification under ACT COPO 25 (3) for explicit sex depictions and the inclusion of a separate scene portraying sexual violence against a non-consenting person.
25 – 26min: glimpses of erect shaft and head of penis in woman’s hand and near her mouth as she implicitly fellates him.
45mins: Close up explicit visuals of a woman moving her hand across her pubic hair and genitals in masturbatory action, with her rear to the camera.
Other visuals warrant an R classification, in the Board’s opinion, for frequent depictions of sexualised female nudity and implied cunnilingus, fellatio, masturbation and intercourse including implies necrophilia.
A scene from 64 – 67mins has particular strength however and is key to the overall classification decision. In this scene the Countess is implicitly whipped by a woman who is instructed to do so by a dominatrix. The woman then attacks the dominatrix with assistance from the Countess. As the dominatrix sobs, she is breast mouthed and in close up her underpants are removed. This is followed by implied cunnilingus which she apparently enjoys but which leads to her implied death as the Countess performs implied cunnilingus. This scene could be accommodated in an R classification, in the Board’s opinion, but because it is included in a film that contains X rated visuals and ‘no depiction of sexual violence, coercion or non-consent of any kind is permitted in this classification’, the scene actually warrants Refuse classification.– Film Censorship Board report
In this case, the sex could have been passed with an X and the violence with an R-rating. However, a combination of them in one film meant Refused Classification. Unlike the UK, where it was trimmed by 06:12 for an 18-certificate, no resubmission was made in Australia.
The X-rating Platinum Video received in September 1985 was made just before the guidelines were amended.
Tender and Perverse Emanuelle
Directed by Jess Franco / 1973 / France / IMDb
In September 1981, TENDER AND PERVERSE EMANUELLE was passed with an R-rating.
To achieve this, 48-meters (01:45) of footage was removed from the 2286.82-meter (83:21) print.
The cuts were made to remove sex, which was said to be:
Following the cuts, the sex was:
Filmways released it theatrically in Australia.
A highly gratuitous erection
X-Rated Kult (de) – DVD – 77:22 (PAL)
The sequence that was presumably cut in Australia runs from 67:00 to 69:15. It shows a girl masturbating Gordon’s erect penis, while he has his hand between her legs. The British Board of Film Classification also removed 01:11 from this scene when Redemption Video submitted a VHS in 1994.
The rest of the film is standard European softcore and features a level of sex that would not have troubled our censor.
aka Barbed Wire Dolls
Directed by Jess Franco / 1975 / Switzerland / IMDb
In September 1976, a 2249.26-meter (81:59) print of CAGED WOMEN was banned for reasons of ‘indecency and excessive violence’.
An appeal to the Films Board of Review failed in October 1976.
In November 1977, Blake Films were awarded an R-rating after censoring CAGED WOMEN down to 2022.30-meters (73:43). This print, missing over eight-minutes, was released theatrically.
The applicant in all cases was Blake Films.
Blake Films commonly modified their advertising material to comply with the regulations of the Film Censorship Board. This usually involved retouching it with a poorly rendered bra to conceal naked breasts.
CAGED WOMEN was no exception, with the nudity being hidden behind white splotches on the daybill. Lina Romay now also wears black underwear.
All the indecency & excessive violence
These scenes presumably made the bulk of the eight-minutes of cuts.
02:00 to 04:00 – Nestor has a girl chained by the neck begging for food. She is shown naked on all fours as he taunts her with his riding crop.
09:00 to 10:00 – Maria is tied face down and naked on a bed with no mattress. Electric shocks are applied as she screams. This would definitely have been trimmed.
13:00 to 13:40 – Nestor rubs a girl’s vagina. This is quite an explicit scene and must have been cut in 1977.
29:30 to 35:00 – The Wardress makes Bertha bend over. She puts her hand between her legs and checks if she is a virgin. The scene continues until the Wardress makes Bertha beat her. This is a long scene, but if it was censored it would only have been minor.
36:00 to 37:30 – Bertha is tied naked by the neck like a dog. She begs to sleep, but Nestor stops her.
44:00 to 45:00 – Bertha masturbates in front of his Excellency.
47:00 to 49:00 – Maria’s father (Jess Franco) approaches her as she sleeps naked and attempts to molest her. There is nothing particularly explicit here, though the whole incest theme may have caused problems. This scene is worth watching for the hilarious simulated slow-motion fight between the two of them.
52:45 to 54:00 – Maria is again shown tied face down and naked on a bed with no mattress. Electric shocks are applied as she screams and Nestor puts his riding crop between her legs. Again, this must have been trimmed in the R-rated print.
75:30 to 77:30 – Another girl is shown face down and naked on the bed. Nestor threatens her with the riding crop unless she talks. Her vagina is clearly shown in this scene, which would have made it a prime target for removal.
78:45 – Brief shot of Nestor raping Bertha before he is shot.
Directed by Jess Franco / 1975 / Belgium – France – Spain / IMDb
In October 1975, a 2633.00-meter (95:58) print of EXORCISM was banned due to ‘indecency and excessive violence’.
It was a censored to 2522.00-meters (91:56) and awarded an R-rating in February 1976.
The applicant was Global Film Distributors.
The poster names Filmways as being responsible for the theatrical release.
4-minutes of sex & violence
Synapse (us) – DVD – 93:45
EXORCISM has been released in multiple versions, including one with hardcore inserts. The 2001 DVD from Synapse was specially prepared by the Producer, Eurociné. Interestingly, it still runs approximately 02:30 shorter than the one that was initially refused in Australia.
The film is packed with sex and violence, so it is easy to see why it had problems back in October 1975. The following scenes were presumably trimmed for the R-rating.
30:00 to 34:00 – Vogel takes a bar-girl back to his house. He gets her to the bed, accuses her of being possessed by the devil and stabs her. He then chains her up naked and stabs her again.
40:00 – As part of a stage show, Marina is inverted naked and stabbed in the vagina (off-screen). We only see the aftermath of the blood on her pubic hair and breasts. This is followed by an orgy scene that continues for around 5-minutes.
49:30 to 59:30 – Vogel stabs a naked girl to death on a bed. The murder includes close-up shots of the stabbing.
82:00 – Vogel stabs a naked Anne.
If four-minutes went missing for an R-rating, then some or all of these scenes would have been removed or toned down.
Jack the Ripper
Directed by Jess Franco / 1976 / Switzerland – West Germany – Spain / IMDb
In November 1977, a 2507.10-meter (91:23) print of JACK THE RIPPER was censored by 56.2-meters (02:02) before being awarded an R-rating.
The cuts were made to remove ‘excessive violence’.
Blake Films was the applicant.
Cut & Uncut DVDs
A company called Front Row Features issued a censored version on DVD in 2002. It featured no Australian classification information, as it was an import of a cheap Canadian disc.
In July 2004, for the first time in 27-years, JACK THE RIPPER was submitted for classification.
The applicant, Big Sky Video, received an R (High level violence, Sexual violence) rating and went on to release the uncut DVD in September 2004.
Greta, the Mad Butcher
aka Ilsa, the Wicked Warden
Directed by Jess Franco / 1977 / Switzerland – Canada – West Germany / IMDb
In October 1977, a 2465.40-meter (89:52) print of GRETA, THE MAD BUTCHER was banned for reasons of ‘indecency and indecent violence’.
Blake Films was the applicant.
Directed by Jess Franco / 1977 / Switzerland / IMDb
In June 1981, a 2147.38-meter (78:16) print of LOVE CAMP was censored by 74.50-meters (02:43) for an R-rating.
The cuts were made to remove violence, which was described as being:
While the R-rating was awarded for sex and violence, which were both found to be:
Filmways Australasia Distributors was the applicant.
Banned in Queensland
On 4 March 1982, the censored R-rated version of LOVE CAMP was prohibited by the Queensland Films Board of Review.
The distributor was Filmways Australasian Distributors.
In the early 1980s, a censored 70:17 (PAL) version of LOVE CAMP was released by Filmways Home Video.
V.I.P. Entertainment (ch) – DVD as FRAUEN IM LIEBESLAGER – 78:47 (NTSC)
I cannot recall exactly what was missing, from the Filmways VHS. However, I do remember cuts to the scene where the virgin is held by two guards while the Warden pushes a riding crop handle between her legs. In the DVD, this sequence plays from 13:30 to 16:00.
More trouble in paradise
In October 1986, a 71-minute videotape of LOVE CAMP was banned because of ‘gratuitous sexual violence’.
It is unclear if this was a copy of the Filmways Home Video release.
The Queensland Police were the applicant.
Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun
aka Die Liebesbriefe einer portugiesischen Nonne (Classification Board title)
Directed by Jess Franco / 1977 / Switzerland – West Germany / IMDb
In June 1980, a 2430.50-meter (88:36) print of LOVE LETTERS OF A PORTUGUESE NUN was banned because of ‘sexual violence involving a minor’.
A2352.68-meter (85:45) ‘reconstructed version’ was censored by a further 11.6 meters (00:25) before being awarded an R-rating in September 1980.
The extra cuts were made to remove ‘sexual violence’, while the R-rating was award for sex, which was said to be:
Blake Films submitted it under the German title, DIE LIEBESBRIEFE EINER PROTUGIESCHEN NONNE.
Uncut DVD seized
There is one reported customs confiscation of LOVE LETTERS OF A PORTUGUESE NUN.
2004 February – DVD, V.I.P (Switzerland).
…seized under the following provisions of the Customs act 1901 on the following grounds:
under subsection 203B(2), being goods suspected on reasonable grounds to be special forfeited goods.
Material of this nature is deemed to be fall within the scope of Regulation 4A(1A)(a) of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 and therefore subject to the seizure provisions of Section 203 of the Customs Act 1901.– Seizure Notice
– Australian Customs Service
Directed by Jess Franco / 1981 / Spain – West Germany / IMDb
In June 1982, 00:02 of ‘medium level sex’ was removed from LINDA before it could be passed with an R-rating.
Filmways released the censored 85-minute print theatrically.
In the early 1980s, an 81:02 (PAL) version of LINDA was issued on tape by Filmways Home Video.
This release was confirmed with an R-rating in February 1984.
Worldwide, this was reportedly the longest print available on videotape.