A while back, Chrystie was listening to an interview with Eli Roth, writer and director of Hostel, Hostel II, Grindhouse, and some other good gory movies. When asked about his influences, he mentioned a movie called Cannibal Holocaust, which piqued Chrystie’s interest, so I found the 1980s movie by Italian director Ruggero Deodato and we recently got around to watching it.
Wow! Just wow. We were both shocked by what we saw, and shocking two huge horror movie fans is saying something. At one point Chrystie could be heard saying “That’s not real, no way, that’s not real, that’s gotta be special effects” as I looked away and said “Umm…I’m pretty sure they didn’t have effects like that in the 80’s”.
Afterward, we found out that most of the scenes involving cruelty to animals were indeed real. The things done to the animals makes you feel that what is being done to people in the movie is real as well, and it sure looks pretty real. Considering we had never heard of the movie before and didn’t read what it was about beforehand, I wondered if we had come across a snuff film. We were apparently not the only ones to think this because ten days after the movie originally premiered in Milan, it was confiscated and the director was arrested on several counts of murder. The director was only released when the three main actors were brought in to show that they were alive.
The movie is worth a watch if you can stomach it. Quite a bit of controversy has surrounded it, and I read that many countries banned the movie, which prompted me to do a little research on banned movies.
I first visited Wikipedia which has a disappointing page listing movies that have been banned in each country. It had some good information, but was unorganized, incomplete and lacked sources. I did get a kick looking down the lists to find some unexpected movies on the ban list, most notably:
- Over the Hedge was banned in The People’s Republic of China (whose ban list was much shorter than I expected). The delightful animated movie about the food gathering adventures of suburban animals was banned (permitted on DVD now) supposedly due to scenes in which animals are killed. I’ll have to watch this movie again because I think they must have gotten the uncut version because I don’t recall animals being killed in this PG movie.
- Frankenstein is not welcome in Finland, as all movies with Frankenstein in the title are banned, including Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. A quick Google search revealed no reason for the ban aside from perhaps cruelty. Viktor Frankenstein was from Switzerland, so my best guess that he was from Finland was incorrect.
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is banned in India. It was a little surprising seeing this title banned anywhere, but considering the movie had to be filmed in Sri Lanka because the Indian government refused to let them shoot in India after reading the script, I can see why. I’m sure the monkey brain dessert and black arts heart removal ceremony didn’t help tourism in India much when the movie came out.
- Back to the Future Part II is banned in Iran. Again, this was an unexpected title to see, but once I was reminded of the scene in which Ayatollah Khomeini is seen burning in hell, it made sense.
- The movie 2012 is banned in North Korea because the year 2012 is Kim Il Sung’s 100th birthday and is the year North Korea becomes a superpower.
My next stop was IMDB, who I knew would have accurate information. The banned movies pages on IMDB were very lackluster, so I wrote a script to crawl the banned movies page for 246 countries and compile it into a spreadsheet. This provided considerably more data than Wikipedia, however it was only current movie bans, and didn’t have the historical data or reasoning behind the bans that Wikipedia had.
The movie currently banned in the most countries (12) is “Day of the Woman” (aka “I Spit on Your Grave”), a 1978 revenge movie. Here are the top 10 currently most banned movies around the world:
|Movie (Year Released)||Countries Banned In|
|Day of the Woman (1978)||12|
|Cannibal Holocaust (1980)||10|
|The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)||9|
|A Clockwork Orange (1971)||6|
|In the Realm of the Senses (1976)||6|
|The Evil Dead (1981)||6|
|Fight for Your Life (1977)||5|
|The Last House on the Left (1972)||5|
|The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)||5|
|Ultimo tango a Parigi (1972)||5|
In addition to movies, the ban pages also incorporated popular television shows and video games, which gave a very surprising #1 most banned entry. What is it you ask? What TV show or video game could cause 28 countries to ban it, more than double Day of the Woman? Southpark? Not even close. Grand Theft Auto? Guess again.
The most banned entry on IMDB is…Pokémon (the TV series). Yes, Pokémon. Note that this doesn’t mean the entire series is banned in 28 countries, but one or more episodes are. Here are the top 10 banned TV shows or video games on IMDB:
|TV Series/Video Game||Countries Banned In|
|Pokémon (1998 TV Series)||28|
|Family Guy (1999 TV Series)||7|
|Manhunt 2 (2007 Video Game)||5|
|Postal 2 (2002 Video Game)||4|
|Manhunt (2003 Video Game)||2|
|Poketto monsutâ (1997 TV Series)||2|
|South Park (1997 TV Series)||2|
|Ally McBeal (1997 TV Series)||1|
|Dead Rising (2006 Video Game)||1|
|Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (1993 TV Series)||1|
From the IMDB data, 1,670 movies, TV shows or video games are currently banned in at least 1 country, with a mere 207 receiving bans in at least 2 countries.
Of the 36 countries with bans listed on IMDB, here are the top 10 countries with the most bans on movies, TV shows or video games:
In the United States, movies are simply given an Unrated classification rather than being banned outright. Only 4 movies are classified as banned in the US on IMDB, with two being quite old and banned only in Chicago, and two being banned due to legal action.
- The 1967 documentary The Titicut Follies got yanked due to an invasion of privacy of the criminally insane inmates filmed inside the Massachusetts Correctional Institution.
- The 2001 documentary The Profit was banned due to a judge’s order as the movie came out during a lawsuit against Scientology surrounding the death of Lisa McPherson, and the judge did not want the film’s depiction of Scientology to affect the case. There seems to be a bit of controversy as to why the movie has not had its ban lifted as the case is now long over.
Here is the entire list of banned movies, TV shows and video games gathered from data on IMDB.com.
Here is the entire list of countries and their respective number of bans.