Cut! Movie Scenes Too Hot for Screens
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2m 37s of filth
The Human Centipede II - subtitled Full Sequence, which should clue you in as to how much more sickening it is than the original - was the first film the BBFC refused classification for years. The movie has now been released with an 18 certificate, with two minutes and 37 seconds cut, including (and it gets a little graphic here) "a man's teeth being removed with a hammer", "forced defecation" and "graphic sight of lips being stapled to naked buttocks". And they're the ones we can print.
Na'vi sex scene
James Cameron's dedication to the Na'vi cause paid off, with the final movie not only presenting a layered, immersive and fully realised world, but helping him to snag the title of the biggest grossing flick ever. When Fox released the entire Avatar script, fans were able to delve into the pages and pages of supporting notes and explore some of the deleted scenes, including an alien but distinctly sexy sex scene between Neytiri and Jake, where the pair use their glowing tendril tail things for somewhat X-rated shenanigans.
Arnie's never been one for subtlety, but the BBFC saw fit to cut a whole 12 seconds from Commando's gory toolshed scene with the aim of 'removing focus on suffering'. After seeking refuge in every man's true castle – his shed – Arnie comes out swinging, promptly stabbing a soldier in the chest with a pitchfork, scalping another with a sawblade, lopping off arms with a machete and emasculating one poor chap with an axe to the groin.
As the movie that catapulted Bruce Lee to international stardom, it's understandable to hear that The Big Boss underwent numerous cuts to ensure the tone, and Lee's image, were on-point. In one torturous scene, two cousins are killed before their bodies are taken to a circular saw and then graphically sliced entirely in half and their limbs loaded into ice containers. The scene in question is now near-mythical, with the only viewable evidence photo stills from the shooting of the scene.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
While most remember Indy's adventures as enjoyable matinee romps, there's always the odd unforgettable creepy scene that lingers long after the rolling boulders and vine-swinging monkey fun. Raiders Of The Lost Ark's infamous climatic death scene, in which three of his Nazi enemies find their heads melted, imploded and exploded respectively is horrific enough as it is. But the 2001 'Making Of' special revealed that the exploding head would have pushed the movie into R-rated territory, forcing Spielberg to superimpose flames over the image to hide the gruesomeness and snag the PG rating.
Luc Besson's 1994 thriller had to undergo a series of cuts before it made its way onto the big screen. The relationship between hitman Leon (Jean Reno) and his surrogate protege, twelve-year-old Mathilda (Natalie Portman) had enough layered ambiguity as it was, but originally the simmering sexuality was more prominent. One scene in particular, known as 'The Professional', was banned in America for a decade, featuring Mathilda - in full make up and adult dress – not so subtly asking Leon to take her virginity.
Team America: World Police (2004)
I've got wood
Matt Parker and Trey Stone's supremely silly marionette masterpiece Team America: World Police already had an unforgettable sex scene, but in the original cut things were taken to a whole new puppet porno level. At the height of passion, gripped by their anatomically misplaced lust for each other, Gary performs oral sex on Lisa, before she urinates on his face, and he returns the favour by defecating in her mouth. Remember, they're wooden puppets. So it's all okay. Everything will be okay.
Weirdly enough for a film centred around promiscuity and weird baroque sexual parties, Stanley Kubrick's last movie had contractual obligations with Warner Bros that ensured it had to have an R-rating, as opposed to the deadly adults-only NC-17 rating. As such, Eyes Wide Shut's infamous orgy scene wouldn't have made the grade had it been aired unedited, so Warners digitally added additional figures to block out the really explicit shenanigans, prompting outrage from Kubrick fans who demanded he would have never allowed such censorship had he been alive.
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Far be it from us to advocate bestiality, but Tim Burton's 21st century Planet Of The Apes re-imagining and modern make-up effects straddled a decidedly iffy line when it came to its lady monkeys. Case in point, 20th Century Fox were forced to remove a sex scene between Helena Bonham Carter's apeish Ari and Mark Wahlberg's human Leo Davidson. Considering that the movie was being marketed squarely at teens, a NC-17 rating would have killed off its chances. Ironically, the acting and special effects ended up doing that all themselves.
Sucker Punch (2011)
Zack Snyder's action fantasy adventure Sucker Punch caused considerable debate with its sexualised portrayal of its heroines and the fine line between misogyny and female empowerment. Star Emily Browning opted for the latter, expressing her feminist anger at a love scene that was banned by the MPAA to ensure a PG-13 rating. The scene in question, between Babydoll and High Roller (Jon Hamm), was apparently little more than "heavy breathing and making out", with Browning decrying the decision to turn a scene that was originally about Babydoll "controlling her own sexuality" into a scene so edited down that it "looked like he was taking advantage of her."
Mickey Mouse is racist. Well, kind of. Ok, not really at all. But one of his most famous films did have a number of cuts to a rather lengthy musical number edited out for a 1960 re-release after fears it could be considered racist. Fantasia's The Pastoral Symphony features a lovingly crafted woo-off between female and male centaurs. The only problem was the stereotypical (well, as far as stereotypical centaurs go) portrayal of an African centaur fawn named Sunflower, who spends her time shining the white horses' hooves and acting as a centaurian chambermaid.
Jackie Chan: too hot to handle
To celebrate Jackie Chan's 100th movie, he decided to celebrate in showy style – with his first sex scene. 1911 – also known as Xinhai Revolution – originally featured an erotic scene between Li Bing Bing and Chan that was so full-on, Chan admitted that he had to down half a bottle of wine before filming to ease his nerves. Alas, his immodesty was for naught, as it was cut after Chinese censors decided it was "too hot to handle."
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Where to begin? Natural Born Killers – Oliver Stone's meditation on serial killers, the modern media and nihilism – is stuffed full of excessively violent scenes and controversial moments, and while there are quite a few censored scenes, there's one that truly lingers – and we haven't even seen it. The motel scene originally found nutjob Mickey raping his hostage while her hands are tied behind her back, before putting his mouth against hers and ripping her tongue out mid-rape. Unsurprisingly, this was deemed "too excessive".
Stanley Kubrick's epic historical action drama Spartacus impressed for many reasons, not least the scope and intensity of its battle scenes. Filmed on a vast plain outside Madrid, Kubrick hired 8,000 soldiers to double as the Roman army and directed a series of gory, violent fight scenes that he hoped would shock as much as they entertained. Alas, they were a little too shocking, with negative audience reactions during preview screenings prompting Kubrick to cut all but one of the bloody battles.
The BBFC has always been nothing if not unpredictable. When Ken Russell's Women In Love was released back in 1969, there was one scene that raised collective eyebrows around the world, as Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestled naked in a scene not exactly light on homoeroticism. The full-frontal male nudity – a first for the censor – wasn't the problem, and was passed without argument. However, the censor was concerned that there were "clear indications of homosexual feelings between them…. [which] could be troublesome", and promptly demanded all full-length genital shots be removed. Russell bartered with them and was eventually allowed to proceed with a number of heavily edited, and darkened shots that just about obscured the swinging genitalia, if not the man love.
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
The most depressing of all the entries on this list is also one of its least offensive. As Die Hard's dry anti-hero, John McClane (Bruce Willis) is known almost as much for his catchphrase as his wise-cracking. Yet when Die Hard 4.0 came around, his iconic aside was blown to smithereens to ensure a 15 certificate. "Yippee-ki-yay, motherf***er" swiftly became the not quite as witty "Yippee-ki-yay, [GUNSHOT NOISE]", thus crushing a million fanboy hearts and McClane's credibility in a heartbeat.
Bruce Almighty (2003)
Your head is on fire
Bruce Almighty played with the possibilities of an everyday schmuck imbued with Godly powers to ridiculously fun effect. But while spontaneous boob bolstering is fun for ALL the family, there was one iconic moment that could've gone very differently. Steve Carell's brief role as Jim Carrey's rival news anchor was made all the more loquacious when Carrey pulled the celestial strings to give him verbal diarrhoea on-air. The original cut of the scene, however, ended with Carrell suffering a gory, excessive nosebleed, before Carrey hospitalised him by setting his head on fire. Unsurprisingly, that pushed the boundaries of its eventual PG-13 certificate.
Illegal prison scene
Considering the final cut of Sacha Baron Cohen's daring mock-doc featured a full-frontal wrestling match, pointedly ribbed America's right-wing and even suggested that it's not uncommon for Kazakhstanis to have their own "village rapists", you'd have to assume that anything cut out would stretch decency to its limit. The reality, isn't quite as tenacious, although just as controversial. In it, Borat visits a Californian jail and makes very thinly veiled allusions to its similarities with that of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, in which US soldiers tortured Iraqi prisoners. A sheriff at the jail twigged what was happening and threatened to sue the filmmakers if they included it in the movie.
With studio, star and director in-fighting during post-production over American History X's final cut, the differences between the workprint and theatrical release are said to be vast. One particularly contentious scene was said to be an alternate ending that the studio feared promoted neo-Nazism. When newly reformed Derek's young brother is gunned down, the morose epilogue finds Derek looking at a razor blade, contemplating shaving his head and going back to his old, racist ways.
With paedophilia, sexual violence, mutilation, decapitation and much, much worse, A Serbian Film certainly stretched the limits of decency. Yet the BBFC still requested 49 cuts on the fear they would 'eroticise or endorse sexual violence', including an indecent scene intercut with images of a young girl eating a lolly, plus a sex scene during the viewing of an family video. Don't look for it on YouTube – funnily enough, it's not on there.
You'd think Trainspotting's pooey toilet scuba dive would be enough to put audiences off heroin for life, but the BBFC were worried that Irvine Welsh's tale of time-wasting narcotic abusers contained scenes that would prove 'fascinating and instructive'. They asked for a 14-second cut to Renton's (Ewan McGregor) shooting-up scene for the film's home entertainment release, removing a particularly 'piercing' moment from his self-induced intravenous drug use.
Last Tango in Paris (1972)
While the French are traditionally known for their love of good food and somewhat saucy romance, Bernado Bertolucci's drama Last Tango In Paris combined the two to somewhat surprising and censor-baiting effect. A sex scene between Paul (Marlon Brando) and Jeanne (Maria Schneider) had its infamous 'butter on the buttocks' lubrication reduced in length and explicitness, although that didn't stop Brando, Schneider and Bertolucci being indicted (then acquitted) on pornography charges in Italy.
Fight Club (1999)
Director David Fincher's desire to stick so stringently to the twisted narrative of Chuck Palahniuk's book Fight Club garnered flack from all angles, but he always had one studio executive, Laura Ziskin, on his side. However, when Maria told her lover, "Oh Tyler, I want to have your abortion!", Ziskin was so shocked she asked Fincher to remove it. Fincher duly replaced it with "I haven't been f***ed like that since grade school!" Unsurprisingly she hated this even more.
Licence to Kill (1989)
and maim and burn…
When director John Glen was tasked with upping the Bond franchise's aggressive ante, 1989's Licence To Kill certainly lived up to its name, garnering the series' first 15 certificate and proving the most violent Bond to date - even so, scenes including exploding heads, legs being spectacularly hacked up in straw cutters, women shot in the chest and villains aflame and screaming all had to be cut. You just didn't get that sort of thing with Roger Moore.
Hardcore super sex
For all the time that Hancock spent poking fun at the Superman mythos, there were a couple of easy – albeit childishly crude gags – that didn't make the final edit. When the MPAA twice gave the movie a profit-evaporating R rating, the makers cut a number of scenes to ensure a PG-13 rating. Which means that an – ahem – intimate scene between Hancock and a lady friend, in which his climax almost kills his lover and carves bullet-sized holes in his trailer home roof, could only be released on DVD.
Ichi the Killer (2002)
Erotically explicit violence
2002's maniacally violent Ichi The Killer had the BBFC up in arms. The board demanded over three minutes worth of cuts before it could even hope to grab an 18 certificate, and while wire-slicing and razor-boot slashing murder stayed in the theatrical release, moments of "erotically explicit violence which have never been passed by the BBFC at any classification level" had to be removed for fear they "could have a harmful effect on certain viewers".
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Everyone's favourite gender-bending family comedy seems an odd target for the censors – that is, until you hear the innuendo thrown around between Mrs Doubtfire (Robin Williams) and rival Stuart (Pierce Brosnan) over a family dinner. When Doubtfire questions Stuart's romantic intentions with his ex-wife, he proceeds to insinuate with risque gusto: "You know, dear! Pork the porpoise? Rumpleforeskin? Cunning linguistics?" After 10 banned years, the uncensored version was finally released on DVD, but not before Brosnan's Bond had nicked Doubtfire's gag.
The Hangover: Part II (2011)
While The Hangover: Part II's fratboy frivolities took things to a whole new extreme in the sequel's Asian adventure, there were two moments that would have forced an 18 certificate. To ensure it received a 15, two images were removed from the end credits' reel. One of which was Thai tourism at its most clichéd, namely "the sight of a naked woman, with her legs apart, ejecting a ping pong ball from her "
While censors, filmmakers and tetchy movie stars hold considerable sway, there's one group more powerful than them all combined. Frank Oz's black comedy Little Shop Of Horrors fell foul to consistently negative reactions from test audiences, who demanded the tale of a man-eating plant alter its ending. The original version had leading stars Audrey and Seymour killed and eaten by plant Audrey II, before taking over New York City (via a nifty King Kong homage) and the world.
Halloran's gory death
Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's holiday horror The Shining is already chock full of terrifying imagery. Yet the scene in which Halloran (Scatman Crothers) is murdered by Jack (Jack Nicholson) was cut short by Warner Bros and Kubrick. The original scene was far more graphic, with over a minute's worth of brutal gore playing out as Jack hits him, slams the spike of the axe into his spine, and bludgeons him across the face.
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