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“Invitation to Dance - It’s a Dance. And sometimes they turn the lights off in this ballroom. But we’ll dance anyway, you and I. Even in the Dark. Especially in the Dark. May I have the pleasure?” --- Stephen King ::::::::::: MY CRITERIA FOR DISCUSSION ENCOMPASSES THE HORROR GENRE AND BEYOND, SO I USE THE TERM "NIGHTMARE MOVIES". SPOILERS CAN OCCUR WITH OR WITHOUT WARNING. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

THE KILLING FLOOR (gore on the cutting room floor)

July 30th 2008 00:31
Day of the Dead
It’s time for another diatribe. With many, many horror titles being released straight to DVD these days there is a much touted plus factor the distributors try to lure the potential renter/purchaser with: the unrated tag. But just how accurate, or to be more precise, just how rewarding is it?

In America it is optional to submit your movie to the ratings board, the Motion Picture Association of America, which was created in 1968 after the dismantling of the rigid, tyrannical Hays Production Code. A few more changes happened over the years the most significant being in 1984 with the addition of the PG-13 and in 1990 with the changing of the X rating to NC-17 (the same restriction is in place – no one under 17 admitted – but the “porn” stigma was dampened).
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was butchered
If you wish to have your movie given the official stamp of approval, whether it be a G, PG, PG-13, R or NC-17, then the MPAA logo and respective serial number has to appear at the very bottom of your end credits list. But there are pros and cons for movies which come with the MPAA rating.
Friday the 13th Part III
The Friday the 13th series suffered horribly
The good side of the coin means, as long as the movie isn’t rated NC-17 it will have a healthy distribution (providing you have a good distribution company working for you) and cinemas will happily book your movie (providing it doesn’t run for three hours or more). With the exception of just a handful most commercial horror movies in America are rated either R (under 17 have to be accompanied by an adult/guardian) or PG-13. Horror fans will generally turn their nose up at a PG-13 rated movie though.
Friday the 13th Part III
The MPAA has delivered many slaps in the face for gorehounds
Unfortunately if a movie gets slapped with an NC-17 cinema chains tend to baulk at booking the movie, as it still carries the ominous aura of something too sleazy and lurid for mass audience consumption. Horror fans have been crying out for years for an MPAA rating that reflects the horror genre staple elements and not simply a flesh flick for the dirty mac brigade.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning DVD cover art
Of course if you attempt to distribute your movie without an MPAA rating you may as well kiss your box office receipts goodbye. Virtually no cinema chain will book the movie and newspapers will run advertising for it, which brings me to the unrated DVD phenomena.

Turistas DVD cover art
Video chains don’t have the same attitude of snobbery, although I heard that the Blockbuster chain in America doesn’t carry NC-17 rated titles. Horror movies can carry – and in many cases proudly display on the cover – the unrated tag. For horror fans this supposedly means that violent content, and to a lesser degree sexual content, has not been cut out in order to receive an R rating.

In Australia the rating system is different. It is compulsory to have a movie rated. Most horror movies are rated either M (general admission but recommended for mature audiences), MA (under 15 must be accompanied by adult/guardian) or R (no one under 18 admitted). There is an X rating too, but this is reserved only for sexually explicit hardcore adult movies and those titles are never shown theatrically, and can only be bought or exchanged in adult sex stores. The hypocrisy is that in recent years there have been several “mainstream” movies which have had actual sex in them, yet have carried an R rating, but that’s another kettle of smelly fish entirely.
More gore for the cutting room floor
In Britain the ratings board slap 12, 15 or 18 restrictions on movies. The UK was responsible for the notorious “video nasties” black list in the mid-80s when dozens of video titles, the majority of which were horror, were deemed reprehensible and were removed from video stores.

My Bloody Valentine movie poster
So, I’ve rambled enough about the censorship nuts and bolts, what about the guts and glory? If horror movies are managing to enjoy a renaissance of popularity and many are reaping the fans’ approval for their unbridled intensity, what about some of those classic titles that were butchered by the MPAA in the Scarlet Age of Modern Horror? There have been many movies during the 70s and 80s that were censored, but there’s one choice movie that I keep coming back to, one which was ruthlessly slashed in order to receive an R rating in the U.S. A Canadian stalk’n’slash flick by the name of My Blood Valentine (1981).

My Bloody Valentine
One of the many shots cut from My Bloody Valentine
Paramount Studios owns the rights to it, and apparently they still have all the excised footage; all those juicy seconds of graphic violence which were cut before the movie was released, yet images found their way into Fangoria magazine. According to producer John Dunning claims to have footage of the cut scenes, as well as a complete negative with 8 to 9 minutes of extra footage. He is currently trying to find a way to release a complete uncut DVD, but rights issues with Paramount have so far prevented that. Supposedly Paramount has a rigid policy that they will not release any unrated or movies which were originally rated X for the home market. They see themselves as bastions for wholesome family viewing and will not sully their name to pander to the gorehounds and exploitation freaks.

This royally pisses me off. For more information concerning the blood-smeared campaign for releasing unrated original versions of classic slasher flicks go to the Longer, Gorier and Uncut page at Hysteria Lives here.

Some directors have been successful with releasing movies on the big screen with an X rating or unrated, but they are far and few between. A intriguing example of it going pear-shaped is George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985). Romero released Dawn with a self-imposed X rating and it did very well considering, however when he released Day unrated it bombed at the box office. Go figure.
Dawn of the Dead movie poster


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13 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Cibbuano

July 30th 2008 03:18
that first image is from Day of the Dead, right? Where do you get these great animated GIFs?

Comment by Bryn

July 30th 2008 04:26
You betcha Cibby! I found it by simply Googling. I'm a shameless opportunist Although I don't like using GIFs very often as I find them distracting.

Comment by JohnDoe

July 30th 2008 08:04
Your preaching to the choir with me Bryn,

The thing that amazes me, especially with the horror/sci fi genre is the quality products that are deemed straight to DVD. Often they are of a far higher quality than the endless stream of remakes and 12 year old friendly Equilibrium, Teeth are two that stand out as great films that didn't get cinema releases in Oz

Comment by Damo

July 30th 2008 09:05
I must be a preference thing.
The odd splatter is okay but too much is like watching an abattoir. You lose all sense of reality and reason to fear seeing the mess. Another helpless sheep slaughtered.

I tend to think that if gore is the star then over exposure of the star causes people to lose interest.

Just a dramatic opinion.

And yes Equilibrium was excellent.

Comment by Cibbuano

July 30th 2008 10:35
Damo, I know what you mean... sometimes splatter just makes me want to stop watching, but it can be mesmerizing... Ichi the Killer held me fixated.

Comment by Bryn

July 31st 2008 00:15
Damo, I'm not advocating gore for gore's sake. The best graphic special effects make-up in movies is usually done with intelligence; The Thing, Day of the Dead, The Evil Dead, all with big doses of gore, but they were integral to the movie. My argument, is that especially in the slasher genre, where the pay-off is the inventive gory death (as well as the suspense leading up to it), it ruins the whole point when the gore gets cut out. My Bloody Valentine is a genuinely creepy slasher flick, a cut (pun intended) above the rest. And it had what look like some excellent effects, but the MPAA, back in '81, went ballistic over what they saw as totally unnecessary violence and of course Paramount were certainly not about to release an X-rated movie, that would be commercial suicide. Good gore is also about context and execution (pun intended), and I agree, over-exposure ruins the intended shock effect. There are of course exceptions to the rule ...

Comment by Damo

July 31st 2008 00:24

I am not making a critique of the post, just expressing a personal opinion about story telling.

Many off camera killings for me are far more disturbing than the on screen version. It is just my preference for the fear of the unknown and the unseen as being more appealing and unsettling.

The Thing was great but Britannia Hospital left me feeling dirty for enjoying it, despite having less gore.

Comment by Bryn

July 31st 2008 02:03
Damo, that's cool, I know you weren't being critical, apologies on my behalf if my written tone sounded defensive. I'd be loathe to alienate you, you're one of my greatest and most loyal supporters!

Comment by Damo

July 31st 2008 02:36

Alienate me sir?
Your are the most inoffensive site on the whole of Orble.

Maybe we could start a debate with the following questions:

Does splatter matter?

Is Horrorphile Haunted?

I vote 'yes' for number 2 because my avatar only has a problem on your site. Spooky.

Comment by jon

July 31st 2008 02:39
Do you think there should be a ratings system at all? Or should it be simplified? Do you think there is ever a case for banning something completely that is just too gory or explicit?

It's a slow morning

btw this post is nearly at the top of the list on CinemaMad. Needs just a couple more votes

Comment by Bryn

July 31st 2008 07:34
Jon, how delightful to see you here! It must have been a slow morning indeed!
I believe in "warning" audiences (parents especially)about content within a movie, but I adhore censorship ie a group of censors banning or cutting a film because they feel it is offensive and shouldn't be viewed by the public at large.
As for whether there is a (horror) movie that is too gory/graphic for audience consumption, perhaps if a real snuff film somehow got general release ... I think that would warrant banning and subsequent legal action

Comment by Bryn

July 31st 2008 07:36
Damo, I'm kinda excited by the prospect that my blog is haunted ...
As for Debate Battle ... My last one was basically the question you asked. I'll think up a fresh question for the coming weeks ...

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