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This is a list of films that have been or are banned in Australia.

Rationale for banningEdit

Films that are banned in Australia have been considered offensive to the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified.

Reasons that a film would be banned include depictions of bestiality, necrophilia, child sexual abuse, rape, sexual violence, child pornography, high impact violence, extreme depictions of cruelty to persons or animals, and/or sexual content in such a way that it offends the standards of morality, decency and propriety in most adults to the point where they should not be classified (i.e. banned).

Films that are banned by the Australian Classification Board are labelled "Refused Classification" (RC) and the sale, distribution, public exhibition and/or importation of RC material is a criminal offense punishable with a fine up to A$275,000 and/or up to 10 years imprisonment. Personal ownership of banned films is legal (except in Western Australia and parts of the Northern Territory and/or if they contain illegal content), and it is legal to access them via the internet. Such penalties do not apply to individuals, but rather individuals responsible for and/or corporations distributing or exhibiting such films to a wider audience.

Banned filmsEdit

Year Name Reason for banning History Current status Citation
1912 All films about bushranging, like The Tide of Death, for instance.[1] The Australian censors were concerned about the effects of such films on female audiences.[1] All films are now unbanned. [citation needed]
1928–1941 (chronological) Dawn, Klondike Annie, Compulsory Hands, Applause, Cape Forlorn, All Quiet on the Western Front, Gang Bullets, and many more Various Creswell O'Reilly was hired as Chief Censor around this time, during which many films were banned. All films are now unbanned, though their classification rating varies. [citation needed]
1931 The Blonde Captive Racial themes A Columbia Pictures film deemed to be prejudicial to Australian Aborigines by the Australian government. Claims made in the film that some Aborigines in the outback were actually neanderthals were also deemed by the Australian government to be harmful to ongoing anthropological research. After its 1947 re-screening the film went missing. A full print of the film was later discovered and made commercially available on DVD in 2010. [citation needed]
1964–1970 The Miracle, Viridiana, La Dolce Vita, Fellini Satyricon, The Silence, Blowup and Zabriskie Point Various R. J. Prowse is appointed Chief Censor and former Chief Censor C.J. Campbell (1957–1964) is appointed to the Appeals Board. During the 1960s, many films were banned. Presumably unbanned at some point, as all films (except for The Silence, which is included on Ingmar Bergman's Faith Trilogy DVD, classified R18+) are now classified M. [citation needed]
1971 Customs Minister Don Chipp begins the development of a new classification system which includes the much-needed R18+ rating for adult content; films that were once banned are gradually released. [2]
1972 Pink Flamingos Offensive content (exploitation, sexual violence, incest, adult themes, animal cruelty)[3] First banned in 1976. It was re-classified R 18+, with four minutes of footage removed. It was re-banned in 1981, and another three times in 1983. In 1984 it was given an X 18+ (banned in all states, although legally for sale in the two Territories), uncut. Soon after, attitudes towards sexual violence became stricter in the X 18+ category, and it would not be possible to earn the X 18+ again. It was re-banned in 1997, this version being the "25th Anniversary Edition" which added extra scenes. The distributor this time cut only two minutes to receive an R18+. Allowed in a cut version, classified R18+ [4]
1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre violence.[5] The ban was lifted in 1984. Allowed uncut, classified R18+ [5][6]
1975 Vase de Noces (also known as Wedding Trough) Obscenity and graphic depictions of bestiality and other content that is offensive and abhorrent. Under pressure from the Western Australian government, the Australian Classification Board decided to ban this arthouse Belgian film for obscenity. The film was banned from being played at the Perth International Film Festival. However, the authorities lifted the ban temporarily and the film was allowed to be screened. In 1976, the government decided to re-ban the film. A third attempt to appeal the film's ban status was made in 1977, but the government rejected the film once again, and the film remains banned to this day. A successful attempt to allow the film is not likely to occur, given that the film violates Australian obscenity laws. Still banned. [7]
1976 Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom Offensive content (exploitation, sexual violence) Pasolini's Salò was banned at the time of release. This ban was then reversed in 1993; the film was re-classified R18+ for a theatrical release. However, the ACB re-banned it in 1998 for "offensive cruelty with high impact".[8] It was then approved for DVD and Blu-ray (because its extra content gives it context) release in 2010, uncut.[9] It can only be shown in cinemas if the extra material is screened with it. Allowed uncut, classified R18+ [10]
1977 In the Realm of the Senses Sex and violence Played uncut at Sydney and Melbourne film festivals in 1977, but was refused uncut for wide release. It was passed cut later that same year. The uncut version was banned again in 1981, and several VHS releases in the '80s were cut. It was finally passed uncut in October 2000 and released in August 2001 following the decision regarding Romance. In 2008, it was re-released by Umbrella, using the slightly censored UK DVD version, but has since been allowed uncut. Allowed uncut, classified R18+ [11]
1977 Last Cannibal World Violence and indecency Banned in April 1977 due to "indecency and indecent violence". A censored VHS tape to remove "indecent violence" was released in May, bearing nearly 10 minutes of cuts. Allowed in a cut version, rated R18+ [12]
1980 Caligula Explicit scenes of sex and violence In 1981 the ban was lifted, and a modified version with the rating R18+ was allowed. In 1984 the uncut version was released, and it received an X18+ rating. Later in 1984, the ACB decided to forbid films containing sexual violence and the film was re-banned. Ever since, the film's rating has fluctuated between RC (Refused Classification) and R18+ (depending on the version). In 2010, the ACB refused classification for the "Imperial Edition" DVD of Caligula; it was also refused in 2005. Allowed in a cut version, classified R18+ [13]
1980–2007 Faces of Death series Violence; scenes of actual death The first film was refused in December 1980, and the sequel was refused in 1983. The original was refused again in 1988 after the AFP confiscated it and handed it to the ACB. Umbrella Entertainment attempted to release a box set of the first four films in 2008, but only the first film was passed (uncut) with an R18+. The third and fourth films were refused classification for the first time in December 2007. Only the original passed with an R18+; 2–4 remain banned. [14]
1981–2017 Cannibal Apocalypse Frequent high impact gore In November 1981, Palace Home Video released the film on VHS, with some major cuts to the film's more violent scenes. In 2017, Umbrella Entertainment released the film on DVD uncut. Allowed uncut, allowed R18+ [15]
1984 Cannibal Holocaust Explicit gore/gruesome scenes The ban was lifted in 2005 and the film was shown in public, in a cut version classified R18+. In 2006, the film was allowed uncut. Allowed uncut, classified R18+ [15]
1986 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Explicit violent content[16] There is a confirmation from 1992 of Customs forwarding an uncut print of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 to the ACB, who later released it to the person for whom delivery of the film was meant. The Board did not give it a rating, so "at the time it was unclear what this meant for the film's banned status". In 2006, the film was officially unbanned. Allowed uncut, classified R18+ [16]
1987 The Last House on the Left (Krug and Company) Sexual violence Submitted for classification in 1987, it was banned. Several imported copies of the film were confiscated in the 1990s. In 2004, it was submitted for DVD release and was passed with an R18+ for "strong sexual violence, medium level violence". Allowed uncut, classified R18+ [12]
1990 Bad Taste Excessive gore The film was originally released with 88 seconds cut. In the state of Queensland, the cut version was banned after a three-week run in cinemas, resulting in the firing and dissolution of the Queensland Film Review Board. In 2005, the uncut version was released on DVD. Allowed uncut, classified R18+ [17]
1992 Nekromantik, Nekromantik 2 Necrophilic content[18] These two films, dealing with the subject of necrophilia, were discovered by the ACB when they were seized by Customs in 1992 and subsequently refused classification.[18] Nekromantik was shown on the SBS World Movies pay-TV channel uncut with an R18+ classification on 29 July 2016. Still banned.[19]
Buio Omega (also known as Beyond the Darkness) High-level violence and necrophilic content The film was seized by Customs in 1992, and forwarded to the ACB. It was subsequently refused classification. In 2014, the ban was lifted and the following year it was released on DVD and Bluray for the first time by Umbrella Entertainment. [20]
The Beast in Heat (also known as SS Hell Camp) Excessive sexual violence The film was seized by Customs in 1992, and forwarded to the ACB. It was subsequently refused classification. Still banned. [20]
Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend Graphic depictions of sex and violence Parts one and two of chapter four in this anime became the first animated features to be banned in Australia.[21] Allowed in a censored (by its British distributor) version, classified R18+ [citation needed]
1995 Twelve films screened at Tasmania's Queer Film Festival, including Spikes and Heels, Coming Out Under Fire, What a Lesbian Looks Like, Mad About the Boy, 21st Century Nuns and Sex Fish Violation against the state of Tasmania's Criminal Code Act (1924) Tasmania was (at the time) the only Australian state in which homosexuality (specifically "gay male sexual activity") was illegal. The festival has now moved to Melbourne. Banned in Tasmania, still unrated by the Australian Classification Board. As the law changed soon after this incident, the films would presumably be allowed in Tasmania and be given ratings by the ACB today (whether X18+ or not). [22]
1997 I Spit on Your Grave Sexual violence I Spit on Your Grave started in 1984 with an R18+ rating and passed a banning request in 1987, but was banned in 1997 due to "rising censorship of the late '90s". In 2004, the ACB decided to lift the ban. Allowed uncut, classified R18+ [23]
1999 Romance Explicit depictions of sexual activity and sexual violence[24] Initially refused classification, the ACB overturned the ban on appeal in 2000, with the film becoming a watershed in allowing actual sexual activity in the R18+ classification. Allowed uncut, classified R18+ [25]
2002 Baise-moi Explicit depiction of sexual violence (effect enhanced by actual sex)[26] The film was allowed at first, with an R18+ rating; in 2002, it was banned by the ACB. It was re-banned in 2013,.[27] On 23 August 2013, the film aired on the pay SBS World Movies channel in a cut form with an R18+ classification. Still banned. [28]
2003 Ken Park Sexual matters "in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults"[29] Copies of the film were distributed via the Internet, and illegal public screenings were held in Sydney and other capital cities. "None were charged with offences in relation to this widely publicised illegal activity, presumably because that would have caused even greater public criticism of censorship laws." Still banned; however, the film has not been widely distributed worldwide. The film remains banned in Australia as of 6 June 2003 when the film was refused classification by the Australian Classification Board that day. [30]
2010 A Serbian Film High-level sexual violence and graphic violence The ACB refused classification of the uncut version on 26 November 2010, and also to a 97-minute version. It was awarded an R18+ in a 96-minute (PAL running time) censored version, but on review in 2011, it was also refused classification, banning all public showings and DVD sales. Still banned. [31]
2011 The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) "Offensive" depictions of violence and high impact cruelty Originally passed with an R18+ rating; banned on appeal after release (screening in capital cities and at festivals, even into the week prior to its ban on review). On news of its banning, the applicant, Monster Pictures, announced its plans to submit a modified version for classification.[32] On 14 December 2011, Monster Pictures announced a "slightly trimmed" version was passed with an R18+ classification.[citation needed] Banned uncut; allowed with 30 seconds cut in December 2011[33] [34]
2012 Father's Day Sexually violent content Allowed to screen on 24 March 2012 as part of the 6th Night of Horror Film Festival, it was refused classification when submitted for home video release in October 2012. A second version with 31 seconds cut was also refused; a version with 40 seconds cut was classified R18+ on 27 February 2013. Offending content included shots of forced anal and oral sex, as well as mutilation of a penis.[35] Allowed after 40 seconds cut, classified R18+ [35]
Found. Prolonged and detailed depictions of sexualised violence The Australian premiere for the film was held at Sydney's Dendy Newtown cinema on 16 April 2013. A DVD release was banned by the Classification Board in 2014 and then passed with an R18+ classification a few months later after two minutes of cuts were made by the distributor.[36] Allowed after two minutes cut, classified R18+ [36]
2014 Children's Island Child pornography concerns The AFP seized a copy of the film and handed to the ACB, who subsequently refused classification on 27 February 2014, more than three decades after its release. Still banned. [37]

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

  • — site with a frequently updated and far more comprehensive list of films and other media refused classification


  1. ^ a b Foster, Gwendolyn Audrey (11 January 1995). Women Film Directors: An International Bio-critical Dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Refused Classification". Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  3. ^ "Films: P | Censor". Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  4. ^ "Pink Flamingos". Retrieved 31 March 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1&2 | Censor". Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  6. ^ Davis, Laura (16 August 2009). "Gratuitous Gore and Sex". Tonight. Tonight & Independent Online. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  7. ^ "Films: V | Censor". Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  8. ^ "Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) -1 | Censor". Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Pier Paolo Pasolini's Salo Cleared for DVD Release". The Australian. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  10. ^ Sharp, Ari (8 May 2010). "Push to reinstate ban on violent film". Sydney Morning Herald.
  11. ^ "In the Realm of the Senses (1976)". Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Films L #1 | Censor". Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Caligula: Banned on DVD". Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  14. ^ "Faces of Death Series". Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  15. ^ a b "Films: C #1 | Censor". Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  16. ^ a b "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1&2 | Censor". Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  17. ^ "Film censorship". Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  18. ^ a b "Films: N | Censor". Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  19. ^ "Nekromantik DVD Review". Digital Retribution. 25 September 2009. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  20. ^ a b "Films: B | Censor". Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  21. ^ "Urotsukidoji: Legend of the Overfiend". Archived from the original on 22 April 2009. Retrieved 28 February 2012.
  22. ^ "Australia's public policies are at times controversial". Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  23. ^ "I Spit on Your Grave (1978) | Censor". Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  24. ^ "Romance Banned – Australian Censorship Board Decision". Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  25. ^ "The banning and unbanning in Australia of the new French film Romance – World Socialist Web Site". Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  26. ^ Australian Government Classification Review Board: To review the decision of the Classification Board to assign the classification "R18+" under the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 to Baise-Moi (the film) with the consumer advice "Strong Sexual Violence, High-Level Violence, Actual Sex and Adult Themes", 10 May 2002
  27. ^ "Baise-moi (2000)". Retrieved 27 August 2013.
  28. ^ "Ln: Banned and Challenged Information". Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  29. ^ "Banned – the film on teenage life too hot for Australia". 31 May 2003. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  30. ^ "Ln: Banned and Challenged Information". Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  31. ^ [1]
  32. ^ "Human Centipede 2 to be resubmitted for classification". Crikey. Retrieved 9 December 2011.
  33. ^ "Cut horror film to crawl back on screens". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  34. ^ "Luke Buckmaster writes about Human Centipede 2 banned in Australia | Cinetology". 29 November 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  35. ^ a b "Father's Day (2011)". Retrieved 9 November 2013.
  36. ^ a b "Found (2012)". Refused Classification. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  37. ^ Australia bans award-winning Swedish film Children's Island over child porn concerns The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 February 2014.