Movie List

10 Movies That Got Banned in Several Countries

July 23, 2018
9 min read

Movies, at the end of the day, are a form of expression. And ideally, in a free world, anyone who wishes to express his or her ideas in a visual medium in the way he or she deems suitable without causing harm to anyone, should be allowed to do so. But at times, the head of certain countries or states have different ideas. Historically, there have been several instances where movies got banned because they in some way or the other offended a certain group of people, or if not people, the government itself. We tracked down the movies that got banned for some reason or the other around the world. In fact, on this list you will also find names of banned movies in USA. There are also banned horror movies on this list.

10. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 take on cannibalism was originally supposed to be a question on who the cannibals actually are. To state it as raw would certainly be an understatement. ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ was unapologetically animalistic, with the director opting to show cruelty and vandalism in its naked form. The violence and rapes seemed uncannily real. The deaths were gruesome at best and the stark animal cruelty filmed didn’t help it out of the controversy pool.

After its premiere in Italy, it was ordered to be seized by a local magistrate, and Deodato was arrested on obscenity charges. Although Deodato was later cleared, the film was banned in Italy, Australia, and several other countries due to its portrayal of graphic brutality, sexual assault, and real depictions of violence toward animals.

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9. The Human Centipede 2 (2011)

A mad scientist kidnaps and mutilates a trio of tourists in order to reassemble them into a human centipede, created by stitching their mouths to each others’ rectums. Let me just confess out-front. I couldn’t bear the film for more than ten minutes. It was originally banned in the United Kingdom by the BBFC because of its “revolting” content but was eventually granted an 18 certificate after over 30 cuts were made. The film was also banned in Australia for a short period of time, then released with cuts. It is banned in New Zealand.

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8. A Serbian Film (2010)

An aging porn star agrees to participate in an “art film” in order to make a clean break from the business, only to discover that he has been drafted into making a pedophilia and necrophilia themed snuff film. I don’t think any film can be more disturbing that this one. It’s just sadistic on every level you can imagine. It is one film, I’ll never recommend to anyone. Not even my enemies. The Serbian state investigated the film for crime against sexual morals and crime related to the protection of minors. The film has been banned in Spain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Norway, and South Korea, and was temporarily banned from screening in Brazil.

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7. I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

A woman seeking revenge on her assaulters seems like a pretty straightforward plot — which it is — but it is the manner in which she takes her revenge is what is going to disturb you. The fact that she herself was so brutally assaulted gives you a moral thread that you can hang on to, but let’s me be honest: that’s not going to be of much help. Many nations, including Ireland, Norway, Iceland, and West Germany, banned the film altogether, claiming that it “glorified violence against women”. Canada initially banned the film, but in the 1990s decided to allow its individual provinces to decide whether to permit its release.

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6. Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

It chronicles the story of the sickening pleasures of the lords and how they exploit 18 young men and women in devious manners. The tale is narrated in an unflinching manner, making it highly intense. The brutal murders, rape for fun and sadism make it one of the most difficult films to watch. It is gory and hurts the viewer almost physically every time it is watched. Some of the scenes are so disturbing that it becomes a nightmare. The torture is unapologetic but poetic justice is served in the end.

Salò has been banned in several countries, because of its graphic portrayals of rape, torture, and murder—mainly of people thought to be younger than eighteen years of age. The film remains banned in several countries to this day. It was banned in Australia in 1976 for reasons of indecency. After a 17-year-long ban, the Australian Classification Board passed the film with a R-18+ (for 18 and older only) uncut for theatrical release in July 1993. The film was rejected by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) in January 1976.  In 2000, in an uncut form, the film was finally passed for theatrical and video distribution in the United Kingdom.

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5. The Birth of a Nation (1915)

Controversy in films isn’t a new concept emerging way back during the silent era itself. This 1915 film by D.W. Griffith depicting the formation of the infamous Ku Klux Klan and narrating the other side of the interracial storyline spelled trouble from the word go. The African American society was depicted as witless and lustful with several members of the race involved in heinous crimes. The Klan is shown as a saviour of the masses protecting their Aryan heritage and refusing to bow down before a seemingly new force. The absence of worldwide marketing prevented the film’s surrounding infamy reaching far and wide. In the United States though, 12 states banned the screening of the film including Iowa.

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4. Last Tango in Paris (1972)

Despite having the great Marlon Brando in the lead, Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1972 film about an American widower having a sexual relationship with a young French woman without knowing her identity and eventually falling in love with her can hardly be classified only as an erotic drama. It was raw and very real with some scenes bordering on the pornographic. Marlon Brando and his opposite Maria Schneider both expressed regret for doing this film. The controversy surrounding it was unveiled in stages as Maria took 2 years to admit her humiliation regarding the sodomy scene and declaring her hatred of Bertolucci much later. Marlon Brando severed all ties with the director feeling exploited after the movie had been made.

Needless to say, it was banned in several countries like Spain and the director’s native Italy and could only be released after several cuts and an ‘X’ certificate in the UK and with an ‘R’ certificate in the liberal US. Bernardo Bertolucci was put on trial in Italy for obscenity and had to serve four months in prison. The raging debate helped a lot though with the film pocketing a tidy sum as people thronged to watch it even crossing borders to get a glimpse of the famed film.

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3. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Creativity and art’s reception are highly subjective and it comes as little surprise when one of the best filmmakers of all time bagged a highly controversial film in his kitty. Stanley Kubrick made ‘A Clockwork Orange’ in 1971 to show a futuristic Britain, the dystopian society and the crime surrounding it. Kubrick, being renowned for his attention to detail and his meticulous approach to filmmaking, depicted the crime graphically, drawing out the scenes in a gory manner and chilling the audience with the rawness of the crimes. The violence was intense and bordered on the extreme. The psychopathy seemed real and the juvenile crimes were too hard to bear for some. The rape scene whilst singing ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ was a disturbing one indeed, but that is what Kubrick wanted it to look like.

Reports of violence after watching the film and being ‘inspired’ by it prompted Kubrick to stop its release in Britain. The Roman Catholic fraternity of America was banned from viewing this on the grounds of violent imagery and rape. Nonetheless, it bagged several Oscar nominations and till date is regarded as one of the best works of Stanley Kubrick and one of the best films of all time.

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2. The Exorcist (1973)

The Scariest movie of all time is not shy of the controversy it generated in its wake. Directed by William Friedkin, It deals with the possession of a 12-year-old girl and the ultimate exorcism conducted by two priests. The film fiddles with psychology, belief and a mother’s love, but all these seemed less apparent as they were buoyed down by the intense scenes which have gained a cult status since then. The entire film set was supposed to be cursed with spooky incidents like freak accidents happening to several members of the crew and their families. The projectile vomiting and spider walk were deemed too disturbing even for a horror flick, with many having hallucinations and temporary insanity after viewing this film. The cuss words were frequent and were scarier coming from a 12-year-old girl. The whole effect was disturbing and an ‘R’ rating seemed too lenient. In the UK, the film was initially released in theaters, but was not legally classified for a video release until 1990.

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1. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

When a sister and her brother take a group of friends to visit the farmhouse of their deceased grandfather, they discover that just next door lives a whole family of repugnant psycho killers. Most noteworthy is “Leatherface” who is the bloke who wields the power saw and has a penchant for human flesh. Though the film did not enjoy immediate success at the box office, it has since gathered a hefty cult following. And deservedly so.

But not everyone liked the film. After its initial British release, including a one-year theatrical run in London, ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ was initially banned on the advice of British Board of Film Censors (BBFC). It was banned for periods in many other countries, including Australia, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Singapore, Sweden and West Germany.

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