Censorship standards have become looser over the years in some ways but much stricter in others. Some types of violence and nudity are easier to get away with – for example if one can prove that it’s being done in a comedic or satirical fashion, it is more likely to be allowed. But if the violence is exploitative or too realistic, it is an entirely different story. There are films from years past that got away with extremely brutal, realistic, graphic acts of violence and or exploitative nudity that would very likely raise more than a few red flags by today’s standards. With that in mind, we have put together a list of five titles that would likely never be released today!
This film is still notorious for the zest with which it exposed young children to a nude Julie Brown dancing around her room while putting on a show that was not fit for minors The same children were also in a scene where they murdered a very nude couple in the midst of screwing. While there have been plenty of films to feature killer children since Bloody Birthday, I cannot think of anything as brazen in exposing young children to both fairly graphic fornication and gratuitous nudity. With stricter than ever standards pertaining to children in film, nudity in film, and the like, there is almost no chance that any distributor would let those scenes make the final cut of a film. Moreover, it’s pretty unlikely that scenes of such an explicit sexual nature that involved minors would even be committed to celluloid in the first place.
Cannibal Holocaust is infamous for unnecessarily killing live animals during its production. As a result of that and other controversial factors, it was banned in multiple countries. It wasn’t until recently that a fully uncensored version of Cannibal Holocaust was made available in the states. Bob Murawski and the recently deceased Sage Stallone put out the full-uncensored version in 2005 by way of Stallone’s Grindhouse Releasing and Box Office Spectaculars. Seven different animals were killed during the production of the film; six of them are seen in the final version. One of the animal death scenes required a reshoot, which prompted the production to senselessly slaughter an animal that did not make the final cut. The attitude towards animal cruelty has become much more intense since the release of Cannibal Holocaust and the current climate towards such matters would never allow something so brazen to be released to theaters or on home video. There are few, if any distributors that would want that stigma. This film was so controversial that it actually led to those responsible for its creation being accused of creating a snuff film. While Eli Roth’s 2013 film The Green Inferno bears a lot of similarities to Cannibal Holocaust, the production of Roth’s film did not harm any live animals and would likely have been faced with the choice of cutting the scenes or sacrificing a distribution deal if it had.
While the mainstream media criticized Natural Born Killers for its apparent glorification of violence at the time of its release, that didn’t stop the film from being distributed. Now, it would be extremely surprising to see a movie like this get made. The current climate towards the glorification of violence would make it extremely challenging for a film like Natural Born Killers to attract names like Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino, let alone get made and secure massive distribution. With massive media coverage of the seemingly endless tragedies around the Unites States, a film that so brazenly glorifies the type of senseless violence that is endlessly showcased in Natural Born Killers would be very unlikely to find distribution today. While there are films that are equally violent which have been made since the release of Natural Born Killers, I am hard pressed to think of one that had the high profile talent- both in front of and behind the camera - that Killers did or the big studio distribution.
These films were extremely controversial at the time of their release for showing real deaths (or at least claiming to). This concept is one that still disturbs many viewers and that the idea was green lit, committed to film, and distributed is surprising to this day. Evidencing just how a film like this could never be made today: The Millennium Edition of Faces of Death is nowhere near as graphic as the original entries. The latest installment showcased documentary-like accounts of four stories but without the addition of the kind of raw and uncensored footage that was contained within the original, highly controversial series of films. As such, the popularity of the franchise seemed to drop off and there does not appear to be the same audience that there once was. However, the original series continues to be re-packaged and re-released, over and over, and audiences continue to eat it up.
When it was release in 1992, this movie was banned in an assortment of countries and is still banned in several to this day. Mikey told a shocking and morally reprehensible tale of a youngster with a penchant for killing. There was really no redeeming quality to this film and unlike movies along the lines of The Children; it was a sociopathic lack of guilt that fueled Mikey, rather than a viral epidemic or any other explanation. This is still regarded as one of the most controversial films of recent years. Mikey is controversial for seeming to almost glorify violence and torture at the hands of a child that isn’t even in middle school. While there have been killer kid films to come since Mikey, it would be hard to find one that is so brazen. If a film like Mikey were made today, it’s fairly safe to assume that it would require a lot of censorship to secure a release in the US. With all of the senseless massacres and tragic school shooting that have taken place across the country since 1992, it is very unlikely that a movie like this would be distributed today.
Looking for more? Check out Ten Classic Scary Movies That Are (Mostly) Safe for Younger Viewers and Blood Without Horror: Our Favorite Non-Horror Gore-Fests.