The BBFC recently decided that 'The Human Centipede II' was just too "obscene" to be granted a UK home video release (read our initial news story here). For anyone to sell the film that sees a crazed doctor stitch his victims together head to tail (as it were) to create one long centipede would be breaking the law.
The film's director Tom Six hit back with the following statement, which he relayed to Empire Magazine (ironically censoring his own f-words): "Thank you BBFC for putting spoilers of my movie on your website and thank you for banning my film in this exceptional way. Apparently I made an horrific horror-film, but shouldn't a good horror film be horrific?
"My dear people it is a f****cking MOVIE. It is all fictional. Not real. It is all make-belief. It is art. Give people their own choice to watch it or not. If people can't handle or like my movies they just don't watch them. If people like my movies they have to be able to see it any time, anywhere also in the UK."
However, we're now living in a world whereby a banned film can easily be (illegally) downloaded from the internet in a matter of minutes no matter how old and impressionable you are, so does it really matter that the film isn't available in stores to be bought by only persons of 18 years and above? Has filmic distaste reached a peak with 'The Human Centipede II'? I doubt it.
To me, this feels like (the previously banned) 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' all over again. The return of the video nasty. Films not made for Oscar consideration, but films intended to shock and take the viewer aback, riffing heavily on the violent nightmare that "it could happen to you".
Give it a decade or two and this newly banned will be available to little fanfare or shock, which is to say that perhaps society needs time to catch up with its artistic contributions or develop a stomach for them. Still, I don't think that 'Brief Encounter' was that much of a risk when it was banned in Ireland for being permissive of adultery in the 40s. Then again adultery was a crime, and stitching people together for sexual gratification is certainly frowned upon today.
Tom Six has a good point that horror films should be horrific, but is glorifying and sexualising the deranged violence just trying to push the envelope for the sake of it? Master director Stanley Kubrick famously pulled his own highly successful 'ultraviolence' flick 'A Clockwork Orange' from its cinematic run after a series of grisly crimes were sensationalised by the media and attributed to his anti-establishment film. ('A Clockwork Orange' was actually a major Oscar contender).
Few directors have the power to pull a studio film from circulation as Kubrick did, but the guilt on the filmmaker's behalf is an interesting case that films don't just exist on the screen – they bleed into peoples' lives. Still, it's not like that film just disappeared – it's just been re-released on Blu-ray alongside his other subversive classic 'Lolita'.
I haven't seen it, but I don't think that 'The Human Centipede II' is going to match Kubrick's brilliance, yet because of the rare and powerful demonstration on behalf of the BBFC it's become an important film nonetheless. It could even be a case that because of the noise created by the BBFC's somewhat opinionated statement (especially when it heralds the first one as "undoubtedly tasteless and disgusting ") that more people will want to see this film than before, just out of curiosity.
Censorship certainly is a tricky one. Films have more power when they don't show the act in question, instead writing around controversy with a clever script and inspired direction while the viewer imagines what they aren't showing. This new wave of torture porn films may be shocking but they're also lazy and uninspired. And I agree with Tom Six when he says horror films should be horrific, but I think they should still be horrific after the scene is done. It's not all about the moment, but censorship certainly is.
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|1.||Star Trek Into Darkness||£8.43m|
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|3.||21 And Over||£0.58m|