The movies of Wes Craven that have been cut or banned in Australia.
The Last House on the Left
aka Krug and Company
Directed by Wes Craven / 1972 / USA / IMDb
No Australian distributor was brave enough to attempt a theatrical release of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT.
Banned after 15-years
In 1987, Video Excellence had an 82-minute tape banned by the Film Censorship Board. It was submitted as KRUG AND COMPANY.
The Films Board of Review upheld the decision.
May 7, 1987
KRUG AND COMPANY (aka THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT), directed in 1972 by Wes Craven, is a relentless, gross and insensitive exploitation film that, in the unanimous opinion of the Film Board of Review, should not be approved for classification. It depicts in a highly objectionable way the implied rape, slashing, terrorization, butchery and murder of two young women by psychotic thugs.
In his verbal submission to the Board of Review, Mr Allan Tibbits of Video Excellence expressed the view that the Censorship Board had been influenced by the fact that the violence is perpetrated against women. The Board of Review noted that among the acts of mayhem is one strongly implying oral severing of male genitalia by a women.
The Board of Review felt that, regardless of the degree of explicit sexual violence, butchery and cruelty remaining after heavy editing, the film is inherently so dehumanised and insensitive (and totally unrelieved by the inappropriate comic interludes) that release on video could not be justified.
The Film Board of Review accordingly confirms the decision of the Censorship Board to Refuse to approve the classification of KRUG AND COMPANY (aka THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT) pursuant to Section 25 (3) of the A.C.T Classification of Publications Ordinance 1983.– Films Board of Review report
Working to keep Australia safe
In October 1991, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was part of a package of fifteen tapes that were confiscated by the Australian Customs Service.
They were forwarded to the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) who found them to be ‘prohibited pursuant to Regulation 4A (1A)(a)(iii) of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations’.
See the NEKROMANTIK (1987) entry for more information about this case.
There is a report of a second confiscated tape in 1998.
Erased from MUFF
In July 2001, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) was one of eight ‘banned’ movies dropped from the second Melbourne Underground Film Festival.
See database entry for SALÒ, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM (1975) for more information about this case.
R-rated after 32-years
On 8 June 2004, Umbrella Entertainment had a DVD of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT passed with an R (Strong sexual violence, Medium level violence) rating.
It received the same classification on 23 September 2004. This second submission was presumably due to additional extras being added to the disc.
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT had its long-delayed Australian premiere on 4 November 2004 at Melbourne’s Australian Centre for the Moving Image.
Umbrella’s DVD followed on November 15. Their cover blurb was ‘Previously banned in Australia. Now uncut’.
This release ran 84:09 (NTSC), not including the MGM logo. The first commentary track was originally recorded for the 2002 American MGM DVD. On it, Wes Craven says ‘…in England and Australia this film has never been allowed to be publicly viewed’.
In October 2007, Umbrella issued it as part of THE WES CRAVEN COLLECTION box set, which also included the original THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) and its sequel.
They rereleased it in February 2008 as part of a so-called VIDEO NASTIES box set which included BASKET CASE (1982) and MANIAC (1980).
Umbrella Entertainment issued THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT again in September 2013, this time on Blu-ray.
The cover blurb was again ‘Previously banned in Australia. Now uncut!’.
The Hills Have Eyes
Directed by Wes Craven / 1977 / USA / IMDb
In December 1977, a 2464.60-meter (89:50) print of THE HILLS HAVE EYES was banned because of ‘indecent violence’.
A 2413.80-meter (87:59) ‘reconstructed version’ was refused for the same reason in April 1978.
In December 1978, an 83-minute ‘modified version’ was submitted on videotape and passed with an R-rating.
In March 1979, it was banned for the third time, now in the form of a 2322.50-meter (84:39) ‘modified soft version’. The reason given was ‘excessive violence’. It is unclear why the previous R-rated videotape was not used as a guide.
American TV version
THE HILLS HAVE EYES was finally passed with an R-rating in August 1979. The 2072.20-meters (75:32) print was described as an ‘American Television version’. The whole process had taken 20-months and nearly 15-minutes of footage had been trimmed.
In all cases, Filmways was the applicant.
The American syndicated TV release, which had all horror deleted, received an R rating! You literally could not work out what was going on. People would run in and out of the caravan without anything being shown, hinted at or referred to until there was no cast left. It was unbelievable that kids could watch this version free on 1970s American syndicated TV yet, in Australia, we had to be over 18 and pay for the privilege.
Banned import tape
In March 1983, a 90-minute tape of THE HILLS HAVE EYES was banned because of violence. It was described as being:
Risis Ethnic Video Pty Ltd was the applicant.
Passed as ‘special condition’
In December 1983, M. Caggiano had a 90-minute ‘modified version’ of THE HILLS HAVE EYES passed with the Special Condition ‘that this film/tape will not be exhibited in any State in contravention of State’s law relating to the exhibition of films’.
Banned & censored video
In December 1984, a 90-minute tape of THE HILLS HAVE EYES was Refused Registration because of ‘considerable violence and cruelty’.
Thorn EMI advertised it as an October 1985 release. However, an 88:33 ‘edited version’ did not receive an R-rating until February 1986. It was awarded for violence, which was said to be:
Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment released the censored tape with a cover that incorrectly claimed it ran 97-minutes.
Thorn EMI VHS cuts
Brett B. reports.
Thorn EMI (au) – VHS – 88:33
Big Bob is crucified – 40:00 approx.
Before – A shot of Jupiter’s (James Whitworth) face as we hear him hitting a nail into Big Bob’s (Russ Grieve) hand.
Censored – Jupiter hitting a nail about ten times into Big Bob’s other hand.
After – Bobby (Robert Houston) throwing wood onto the fire.
Big Bob is burnt – 49:30 approx.
Before – The family runs up to Big Bob, followed by a shot of his screaming face as they look on.
Censored – Several different shots have been removed. Bob’s screaming face, Doug (Martin Speer) putting out the fire, Bobby and Lynne (Dee Wallace) holding back Ethel (Virginia Vincent) and Big Bob’s charred body.
After/Before – The family reacting.
Censored – Doug uses a blanket to extinguish the last of the flames.
Baby kidnap – 54:00 approx.
Before – Lynne hears the baby cry from inside the caravan. She says ‘Oh Katy!’
Censored – Lynne enters the caravan and sees Mars (Lance Gordon) with Katy (Brenda Marinoff). She kicks him and they proceed to fight on the floor with Katy lying next to them. Brenda (Susan Lanier) is shown crawling towards them as Mars tries to remove the gun from his holster.
After – Ethel stands at the door followed by a shot of Lynne and Mars fighting on the floor.
This is a particularly clumsy cut. We see Lynne enter the caravan, then Ethel standing at the door, followed by a shot of Lynne now fighting with Mars.
Beast vs Pluto – 74:00 approx.
Before – Beast attacks Pluto (Michael Berryman), knocks him to the ground and bites his ankle.
Censored – A shot of Pluto’s ankle after Beast has attacked.
Doug vs Mars – 86:30 approx.
Before – Ruby (Janus Blythe) uses a rattlesnake to get Mars away from Doug. Mars then falls to the ground and Doug stabs him once.
Censored – Doug continues to stab Mars another nine times.
After – Ruby looks away, followed by Doug kicking the body of Mars.
Censored on Foxtel
In January 2000, THE HILLS HAVE EYES premiered on Foxtel’s Arena Channel. Although longer than the Thorn EMI tape, it was still missing footage.
Lee N. reports.
There were a couple of seconds missing when Mars pushes a gun into Brenda’s mouth after the raid on the camper van. It is cut when he slowly squeezes the trigger and almost orgasms as the hammer clicks but the gun chamber turns out to be empty.
Shots of Jupiter munching on Big Bob’s hand also appeared to be cut as he hurls abuse at Bob’s charred body.
Uncut bootleg VHS
Around 2000, THE HILLS HAVE EYES was released on a ‘no name’ VHS. It was reportedly uncut, with a running time of 89:41.
The R (High level violence, Adult concepts, Coarse language, Sexual references) rating on the cover was fake.
27-years & officially uncut
In March 2004, the OFLC passed a DVD with an R (Medium level violence, Adult themes) rating.
For unknown reasons, Big Sky Video failed to do anything with this submission.
In August 2005, it was back before the OFLC and was again classified with an R-rating. The consumer advice had been changed to ‘High level violence, Horror themes’.
Umbrella Entertainment gave THE HILLS HAVE EYES its official uncut (89:35) premiere with a DVD release in November 2005.
In October 2007, they issued it again as part of THE WES CRAVEN COLLECTION box set. it included the sequel, and THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972).
The MPAA X-rated version
The Umbrella DVD contains a commentary with director Wes Craven and producer Peter Locke. In it, they discuss the censorship problems that the film had in America. The full-uncut version was originally X-rated by the MPAA, so they had to make significant cuts to obtain an R-rating. Here are their comments as they appear on the Umbrella DVD.
Fred is beaten to death by Jupiter – 32:00 approx.
Peter Locke – ‘We had a lot more of it and we had to cut it back, way back’.
This is followed by Big Bob finding Fred’s body hanging on the back of the door.
Wes Craven – ‘This shot had to be cut short as I remember’.
Mars and Pluto kidnap the baby – 55:30 approx.
Peter Locke – ‘This sequence got edited down, and edited down and edited down for us to get an R’.
Jupiter eats Big Bob’s arm and taunts his charred body – 67:00 approx.
Wes Craven – ‘Yeah, there was a shot where he is gesturing, sticking Bob’s own fingers in his face, holding his arm’.
Peter Locke – ‘He’s eating his forearm while he’s speaking’.
‘This scene, really, I remember it so differently. With him thrusting Bob’s arm into his face, and finger into his eye’.
Jupiter is shown taking a bite from Bob’s arm.
‘There’s the one bite we have, but you don’t see that’.
Wes Craven – ‘I think they never allowed us to show the arm as severed’.
Jupiter gets an axe in the back – 83:30 approx.
Peter Locke – ‘This got edited down to get an R’.
Doug stabs Mars to death – 88:00 approx.
Wes Craven – ‘I remember they made us cut this, the amount of stabs, but we somehow snuck them back in’.
The original Director’s cut is reportedly no longer in existence. It remains the case that when an American film is cut by the MPAA, it is usually this print that is used for overseas distribution. The version that had Australian censorship problems was almost certainly the MPAA’s R-rated print.
The Hills Have Eyes Part 2
Directed by Wes Craven / 1984 / USA / IMDb
In February 1985, a 2413.84-meter (87:59) print of THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART 2 was censored by 6.00-meters (00:13) for an R-rating.
The applicant was Greater Union Film Distributors.
In July 1985, Thorn EMI had an 87-minute tape Refused Registration.
An 86-minute ‘edited version’ was passed with an R-rating in May 1986. This 86:18 tape was issued by Cannon Video.
The only scene missing was a shot of Sue (Penny Johnson Jerald) having her throat cut.
None of the flashback footage to THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) appears to be cut.
Uncut after 20 years
In August 2005, a complete version of THE HILLS HAVE EYES PART 2 was passed with an R18+ (High level violence) rating.
Umbrella Entertainment released the DVD in November 2005.
In October 2007, they rereleased it as part of THE WES CRAVEN COLLECTION box set which also included the original film and THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972).