This is a fine example of double TV censorship. Ofcom demand that if a film has been subject to censorship then only a BBFC approved version can be shown. But the system is doubly biased in favour of censorship. Ofcom do not accept the converse, that
a film approved by the BBFC is therefore suitable showing on TV (at the appropriate hour). Ofcom censorship rules still apply. So broadcasters effectively have to submit their films for both BBFC and Ofcom censorship.
Now Ofcom have put the Horror
Channel on final notice for showing a version of the 2010 remake of I Spit On Your Grave that did not include all of the 17 cuts demanded by the BBFC. The Ofcom report is as follows:
Horror Channel is available free to air on
cable, satellite and digital terrestrial platforms. The licence for the service is held by CBS AMC Networks.
A complainant alerted Ofcom to a broadcast of the film I Spit on Your Grave – a 2010 remake of the 1978 film of the same
name. Both films chronicle the sexual torture and subsequent revenge of the principal character Jennifer Hills. The complainant alleged that the version of the film broadcast on Horror Channel contained material that the British Board of Film
Classification (“the BBFC”) had required to be cut before the film’s release in the UK.
The BBFC guidelines1 list “material which makes sexual or sadistic violence look normal, appealing, or arousing” as an example of the type of
content that may be cut as a condition of classification. The BBFC confirmed to Ofcom that, prior the film’s release in the UK, the BBFC had required 17 cuts to the version of the film submitted by the distributor before it awarded the film an ‘18’
certificate. The BBFC said that cuts were made “in order to remove potentially harmful material (in this case, shots of nudity that tend to eroticise sexual violence and shots of humiliation that tend to endorse sexual violence by encouraging viewer
complicity in sexual humiliation and rape)”.
At Ofcom’s request, the BBFC compared the BBFC’s 18-rated version and the version broadcast on Horror Channel. The BBFC confirmed that the version broadcast on Horror Channel was a
combination of the distributor’s and the BBFC ‘18’ rated versions because some of the shots that it required to be cut for the film to have been awarded an ‘18’ certificate were still present either wholly or partially in the version broadcast on Horror
Ofcom considered Rule 1.22:
No film refused classification by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) may be broadcast unless it has subsequently been classified or the BBFC has
confirmed that it would not be rejected according to the standards currently operating. Also, no film cut as a condition of the classification by the BBFC may be transmitted in a version which includes the cut material unless:
the BBFC has confirmed that the material was cut to allow the film to pass at a lower category; or
the BBFC has confirmed that the film would not be subject to compulsory cuts according to the
standards currently operating.
Generally accepted standards must be applied to contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in
such services of harmful and/or offensive material.
The Licensee said the BBFC confirmed that the ‘18’ classification of the uncut version of the film related to its UK “theatrical release”. With regard to Rule
1.22, AMC said that it had acquired the “theatrical release” version of the film from its distributor, which the Licensee “believe[d] complied with rule 1.22 prior to scheduling the film”. It said when initially viewing the content for compliance
purposes, it had noted the presence of a “slate prior to the content indicating it as the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) R rated version of the film, where the MPAA R rating is defined as ‘Restricted’”. The Licensee confirmed that “no
further cuts were made to this content as, following compliance viewing, AMC believed the content complied with the requirements of the Ofcom code”.
AMC said its compliance process in this case included referring to the BBFC
website to confirm whether the content had previously been awarded a certificate. It said that in the case of I Spit on Your Grave, the Licensee “found there to be two versions submitted to the BBFC and subsequently awarded an 18 certificate in 2010, one
which had been cut by 43 seconds (duration [107 minutes 45 seconds]) and one passed as 18 uncut (duration [103 minutes 24 seconds])”. AMC said by contrast that the MPAA R rated “theatrical release” version of the film which had been broadcast had a
duration of 101 minutes and 23 seconds, which was therefore shorter than the two versions described on the BBFC website.
The Licensee said that having been made aware by Ofcom that it had broadcast a version that had not been
certified by the BBFC, it submitted this version to the BBFC for classification. AMC said the BBFC required six cuts to this version in order for it to be given an ‘18’ classification.
Ofcom Decision: Breech of ruler 1.22 and
We took into account that the Licensee’s confirmation that “no further cuts were made to this content as, following compliance viewing, AMC believed the content complied with the
requirements of the Ofcom code”. We recognised that AMC’s compliance process included viewing the content in full prior to airing. However, we were concerned that the Licensee appeared in part to have based its decision to broadcast this version on the
certification rating that had been awarded by an overseas organisation with a different set of standards to the UK’s film classification body. Moreover, particularly given the nature of the film in this case, we were concerned that the Licensee
considered overall it had applied a sufficiently robust process to ensure compliance with Rule 1.22.
The broadcast of this material clearly breached Rule 1.22 of the Code.
Ofcom next considered whether adequate protection from the inclusion of this potentially harmful material was provided for members of the public. In this case the film was preceded by the following pre-broadcast warning by
a continuity announcer:
“Now for a programme with a warning that comes in threes: strong language, violence and scenes of a sexual nature”.
This was followed by an on-screen slate
“The following programme contains scenes which some viewers may find disturbing”.
However, bearing in mind that the version of the film broadcast contained a number of
shots which the BBFC had specifically required to be cut as a condition of the award of an ‘18’ certificate, we did not consider that these warnings were sufficient to alert viewers to the potential harmful content within this film. Ofcom therefore
considered that the Licensee had failed to provide adequate protection to viewers from potentially harmful material and had consequently not applied generally accepted standards. Accordingly, the material also breached Rule 2.1 of the Code.
Ofcom is concerned about the nature of these breaches and the adequacy of AMC’s compliance processes and therefore puts the Licensee on notice that further compliance failures in this area may result in the imposition of
a statutory sanction. Furthermore, we are requesting that the Licensee attends a meeting to discuss the issues raised in this case.
All 3 of the I Spit on Your Grave films so far have been censored in the UK, so it looks a fair bet that the 4th will also invoke similar censorial ire.
CineTel, who produced the two recent offereings, have decided to go into production for a 3rd
time. The story:
Will focus on a serial killer that uses a crisis hotline to target rapists. One of the counsellors has a dark past, which sends detectives sniffing in her direction -- but is she the killer they're
There's a good chance that Steven R. Monroe, who helmed the last two instalments, will return for this latest effort.
The rape scenes with Katie were heavily cut or other parts of the picture were used, and some nude scenes were replaced by alternative footage. But the scenes depicting violence weren't
changed at all.
As an alternative to the cut UK release, the US release is uncut and MPAA Unrated for:
Steven R Monroe's I Spit On Your Grave 2 , is set to play at this year's FrightFest in a few weeks time and there is speculation that this will be a cut version.
Disgusting have just put up a new still from the film, which you can see at the head of this post, and have mentioned in their copy that a festival cut of the film is playing at FrightFest,
This very special festival cut
has been over-seen by the producers specifically for FrightFest 2013 and will be the first time the film will be screened to audiences anywhere.
The film is set for an MPAA Unrated US
Blu-ray release on 24th September so it seems pretty sure that this will be definitive version.
Anything else seems likely to be something to keep censors happy.
A video rental store in Hamilton, New Zealand has been forced to pull a movie from its shelves which was banned by
censors in 2011 for scenes of rape and sadistic violence.
United Video owner Mike Puklowski said he had no idea the film was banned even though the store promoted it as banned .
Censors last year approved a re-issue of the 1978
original on Blu-ray, but were scathing of the remake in a March 2011 decision by the classifications office:
The [2010 remake] contains long and realistic scenes showing the brutal terrorisation and rape of a woman by
a group of men. Later scenes show her implausible but sadistic vengeance against her tormentors.
It encouraged attitudes that contribute to sexual violence, torture by terror and other extremes of cruelty and violence,
particularly against women.
The treatment of the woman before she is raped, is an all-too-plausible and realistic version of the kind of abuse meted out to many women. There is minimal effort to explain the sadistic behaviour of
the male characters.
The length of the scenes and their gratuitous focus on [her] suffering offer maximum opportunity for misogynistic pleasure. Viewers are repeatedly invited to share the point of view of the rapists and are
therefore placed in the position of prurient voyeurs.
Some viewers may well identify with male dominance and power, and echo the men's enjoyment of the woman's terror and humiliation.
A spokeswoman from the
Office of Film and Literature Classification confirmed the film was 'objectionable', a ruling which meant possessing, or downloading it would be an offence.
Sarah Butler, the star of I Spit On Your Grave, which released last weekend in theaters, is happy with the decision to release it unrated.
She says that the MPAA required more than 100 cuts to give it an R rating, and that
would be like cutting the legs off this film.
It's an extremely gory movie, and the rape scene is extraordinarily hard to watch, as they don't just rape her, they torture her too. By the time she
starts getting revenge, you're ready to take a hacksaw to the guys yourself.
She also told USA Weekend: Why go through the whole thing of shooting a film and really committing yourself to the violence and everything,
and then just go and cut it all up to pieces? It's pointless.
Director Steven Monroe was interviewed about the remake, I Spit on Your Grave.
Fearnet: Is this truly unrated? Did you submit it to the MPAA at all?
it is truly unrated. The cut we submitted to the MPAA was what we called the Everything Cut. It had everything in there that we wanted in there, and that we thought the fans would want to see. We didn't want the fans to be able to say that we
backed off on anything. That is the cut we sent to the MPAA, and that is the cut that is going out to theatres unrated. The MPAA said that cut would be NC-17, but they also said that they don't recommend we cut it down. In a way we were shocked, but it
was easy for them. They don't care if the film is released with an NC-17 or an R. It's the distributors who care. Why go NC-17? You can't get into any theatres with that. At least with unrated, you can show it to theatre chains to see if they will take
it. And a lot did take it. The R-rated cut that the MPAA signed off on is sitting on a shelf somewhere.
Fearnet: Will that end up getting a wider release?
They are not doing any release with that R-rated cut. At all.
Is unrated cinema becoming the new 3D? A gimmick to get horror fans' asses into theater seats? Anchor Bay is following in Hatchet II 's footsteps by releasing I Spit on Your Grave unrated in select theaters on October 7, 2010.
We are thrilled to be releasing the unrated, uncensored version of the new I Spit On Your Grave , says Bill Clark, President of Anchor Bay Entertainment: Steven R Monroe has brought his own remarkable vision to this cult classic and we
are certain that the unrated cut will, like the original, evoke a visceral reaction from audiences worldwide.
I Spit on Your Grave is a 2010 US revenge film by Steven R Monroe. See IMDb
The BBFC made 17 cuts totalling 43s for:
UK 2010 cinema release.
The BBFC explained their cuts:
Company was required to make a total of seventeen cuts during three separate scenes of sexual violence in order to remove potentially harmful material (in this case, shots of nudity that tend to eroticise sexual violence and
shots of humiliation that tend to endorse sexual violence by encouraging viewer complicity in sexual humiliation and rape).
The BBFC added:
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a US remake of the 1978 film of the same name. It tells the story of a young woman, Jennifer Hills, who rents a secluded cabin in order to work on her novel. She is terrorised,
assaulted and brutally gang raped by a group of five men, including the local Sheriff. She then takes revenge on each of her attackers. The film was classified 18 for very strong terrorisation, sexual violence and bloody violence.
Before awarding an 18 classification to I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, the BBFC required seventeen individual cuts to its scenes of sexual violence in order to remove elements that tend to eroticise sexual assault (for example,
through the use of nudity), as well as other elements that tend to endorse sexual assault (for example, by encouraging viewer complicity by the use of camcorder footage, filmed by the rapists, during the various scenes of sexual assault). With these cuts
made, the film's scenes of very strong terrorisation and sexual violence remain potentially shocking, distressing or offensive to some adult viewers, but are also likely to be found repugnant and to be aversive. They are not credibly likely to encourage
imitation. There are three scenes in which Jennifer is terrorised, humiliated and sexually assaulted by the men. She is verbally and physically abused, being forced to drink alcohol, dance in her underwear and behave like an animal. She is also beaten
and pushed around by the men. Jennifer is then raped by each of the men in turn, although only two rapes are shown onscreen. In the cut version, the rape scenes feature only incidental nudity and are played largely off facial reactions. Although the
scenes of assault are protracted, the most likely response to the cut version of the scenes is revulsion and disgust rather than excitement or arousal.
The cut version of I Spit on
your Grave will now be shown at Frightfest in central London as required by the local authority.
The 2010 remake of the infamous 1978 exploitation classic I Spit On Your Grave is currently slated for an MPAA unrated theatrical release.
We're done with the MPAA, says director Steven R Monroe, which stars actress Sarah Butler as a
woman who seeks revenge on a quartet of men following their sexual brutalization of her.
Monroe said: After seven rounds with the MPAA, the last two rounds were just to get an actual 'R' rating so that when the DVD comes out and some chain
says, 'We're not stocking your movie,' there will be a 'R' rated version so that the distributors and producers can make their money back.
Monroe continued of his dialogue with the distributor, Why not try for once, and use it as your
marketing, to give the fans what they want and not piss them off on opening weekend by showing a chopped-down version?' Because you'll get a bunch of butts in the seats the first weekend, and the third and fourth weekends they won't be there. But if you
give them what they want, you are going to have longevity, and God bless Anchor Bay, that is there mind-set right now.
Some news coming out of the Creation Weekend of Horrors concerning Steven R. Munroe's remake of I Spit on Your Grave .
Producer Lisa Hansen and director Steven R. Monroe let curious convention-goers know that they've been battling it out
with the MPAA for quite some time now and are in the fourth round of dealing with the ratings board. Apparently they've been asked to make more than one hundred cuts to the movie due to its tone, realism, and grisly violence.
As a result all those
involved promised that when fans finally do get to see the controversial little film, it will be in an unrated form as they all agreed, It's the only way to do it to properly revere the original work.
Meanwhile DarkAngel reports that the
original I Spit on Your Grave has been resubmitted to the BBFC in its uncut format. No news of a decision yet though.