Unconfirmed Censorship

The titles covered on this page are a selection of movies that may have been censored for distribution in Australia.

Please e-mail us if you have any further information about any of these cases.

Because of the Cats

Directed by Fons Rademakers /1973 / Netherlands – Belgium / IMDb

In September 1977, a 2579.00 meter (94:00) print of BECAUSE OF THE CATS received an R-rating.

Because of the Cats (1973) - Australian daybill movie poster 1
Daybill via moviemem

The applicant, Filmways Australasian Distributors, released it theatrically.

Because of the Cats (1973) - Press sheet 1
Press sheet via moviemem

Is the VHS uncut?

In April 1984, Video Classics had a 92-minute tape passed with an R-rating. It was awarded for violence and sex, which were described as being:
Frequency: Frequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

Frequency: Infrequent
Explicitness/Intensity: Medium
Purpose: Gratuitous

Because of the Cats (1973) - VHS videotape 1
VHS – Video Classics

The cover title is THE RAPE BECAUSE OF THE CATS. The exact running time needs to be confirmed.

Did Filmways censor it?

Matt reports
One 7 Movies (us) – 2014 DVD as BRUTALIZATION – 97:48 (NTSC)

This title is infamous for the rape of Mrs Maris (Delia Lindsay) as her husband (Roger Hammond) is forced to look on. Starting at 5:13, the point the gang grabs her, the scene runs over 4-minutes.

Interestingly, the Filmways print is 3:48 shorter than the uncut DVD. If this scene went unmentioned in the Film Censorship Board’s report, it would confirm modifications before submission. The Video Classics tape would not necessarily be the same print.

The same scene was the cause of cuts to the 1974 US R-rated, 1975 BBFC X-rated and 1980 New Zealand R18 releases. The latter had a reported running time of 95:00.

Pet Sematary

Directed by Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer / 2019 / USA / IMDb

On 15 March 2019 a 98-minute print of PET SEMATARY was passed with a MA15+ (Strong horror themes and violence) rating.

The classification matrix described,
Strong impact: themes, violence
Moderate impact: language
Very mild impact: sex

On March 28, a longer 101-minute print received exactly same rating, consumer advice, and classification matrix. This running time matched the uncut ones that had been rated overseas. It was this version that opened theatrically on April 4.

Paramount Pictures Australia was the applicant.

September 9, 2019
The film features large amounts of blood detail and detailed depictions of injury. At one point, a man’s brain detail is depicted, with protruding fragments of broken skull visible below it. The film was given consumer advice of ‘strong horror themes and violence’.

– Classification Board
– Annual Report, 2018-2019

Censorship by Paramount Pictures

Around the same time, Paramount Pictures Australia were gaining a reputation for cutting films for lower and more commercial ratings.

CRAZY RICH ASIANS (2018), BUMBLEBEE (2018) and INSTANT FAMILY (2018) were all originally M-rated, before being cut for a PG. OVERLORD (2018) was similarly censored from R18+ to MA15+, only to be bumped back up to R18+ following an online backlash. The previous three were all family titles, so they appear to have been less concerned about any negative public reaction.

In the case of PET SEMATARY, we hypothesise that Paramount were initially targeting an M-rating and pre-cut it by approximately three-minutes. When it was actually MA15+ rated, they reverted to the uncut version.

Paramount’s previous examples of film censorship were the reason that ROCKETMAN (2019) was treated with such suspicion. The classification of two MA15+ versions, with the second dropped to M-rated on appeal, did actually have an innocent reason. Public reaction was enough to force the Classification Board to release a rare explanation.

May 24, 2019
The Classification Board has considered and classified two versions of the film, ROCKETMAN (2019), a dramatic bio-pic about Elton John, for Paramount Pictures Australia Pty Ltd (Paramount).

The original version (121 minutes in duration) was classified on 5 April 2019 as MA 15+, Strong coarse language. As submitted, this film appeared to be missing end credits and a few sequences appeared to be ungraded.

A modified version of the film (of the same duration) was classified on 16 May 2019, also as MA 15+, Strong coarse language. At the request of Paramount, these two decisions were embargoed until today and will be published to the National Classification Database overnight.

Having regard to the 2012 Guidelines for the Classification of Films, Board standards and precedent, and community standards, the impact of particular language in these films was, in the Board’s opinion, strong and therefore, the films warranted a legally restricted classification of MA 15+. People under the age of 15 years may be admitted to an MA 15+ classified film screening in a cinema, provided that they are accompanied by an adult who remains in the cinema for the film’s duration. The Board noted that the films contained other coarse language that could be accommodated in a lower classification level.

On 21 May 2019, upon application by Paramount, the Classification Review Board, which is separate and independent from the Classification Board, reviewed the modified version of the film and classified it M, Mature themes, drug use, sex scene and frequent coarse language.

Accordingly, as of tomorrow, there will be three decisions viewable on the National Classification Database for the 2019 version of the film, ROCKETMAN.

– ROCKETMAN classification history
– Margaret Anderson, Director, Classification Board

The first submission of PET SEMATARY could similarly be an ‘unfinished print’. However, Paramount’s record means it could equally be a pre-cut version. The Classification Board’s reports would confirm which it is.

Home viewing

On 31 March 2019, a 196-minute Blu-ray and a 133-minute DVD of PET SEMATARY were both passed with the same MA15+ (Strong horror themes and violence) rating.

The classification matrix was the same as the initial submission.

Pet Semetary (2019) - Blu-ray cover 1
Blu-ray – Universal – Sony

Both discs were released by Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.