List of banned films  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

For nearly the entire history of film production, certain films have been either boycotted by political and religious groups or literally banned by a regime for political or moral reasons. Paradoxically, banning a movie often completely fails to achieve its intention of preventing a movie from being seen—the publicity given worldwide to banned films often results in it being given attention it might not otherwise receive.

With the advent of the Internet, the ability of groups or governments to ban a film is hindered. High-speed Internet access and better file compression give more people access to digital copies of movies that might not be available for viewing in cinemas.


Banning versus censoring

Many governments have commissions to censor and/or rate productions for film and television exhibition. From a government standpoint, the censoring of films is more effective than banning, because it limits the scope of potentially dangerous or subversive cinema without overtly limiting freedom of speech.

In the United States, there has never been national censorship. However, currently the motion picture industry maintains the MPAA Ratings, which are issued to individual films submitted to the MPAA as a means of identifying those with content the board considers not suitable for children and/or teenagers. The MPAA system is purely voluntary, for both movie makers and theaters. However, almost all theaters in the U.S. use the MPAA system, and many will refuse to show films which are unrated. From 1930 to 1964 film censorship boards did exist on state and/or local levels in some venues in the USA. The MPAA attempted to satisfy requirements of these disparate boards by creating films the Motion Picture Production Code in the late 1920s, another voluntary system designed and implemented by the MPAA. Films were either approved or not under the Code, and those that were generally had little or no problems passing muster with state or local censors.

Also, it is common for filmmakers to claim that their movie is banned when, in fact, the movies aren't banned but unable to find distributors. This is a common practice for both independent and foreign films. A recent example of this is the Toei Company's Battle Royale, a Japanese movie that has been unable to find distribution within the US because the Toei Company has demanded an unusually high distribution price with additional demands for its release.<ref>{{

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}}</ref> If a movie is not distributed because of economic reasons, it cannot truly be considered a banned movie.




Australia's OFLC (Office of Film and Literature Classification) is responsible for much of the censorship, however each state and territory is free to make additional legislation. See also Censorship in Australia.

In practice, films still get a short cinematic run before they are reviewed & prevented from being shown at cinemas or released on DVD, but broadband Internet access allows people who want to watch such films to do so.

  • 1907: The Victorian Chief Secretary banned screenings of The Story of the Kelly Gang in Benalla and Wangaratta.
  • 1911: Exhibition of The Story of the Kelly Gang film was banned in Adelaide.
  • 1912: The New South Wales police department banned the production of bushranger films.
  • 1928 to 1941: Chief Censor Creswell O'Reilly and his board ban many movies in this period, including Dawn, Klondike Annie (starring Mae West), Applause (it contained chorus girls), Compulsory Hands, Cape Forlorn, The Ladies Man (sexual overtones), White Cargo (interracial theme), The Five Year Plan (discussed communism), All Quiet on the Western Front, Gang Bullets, Each Dawn I Die, Hell's Kitchen (three US gangster films), The King and the Chorus Girl, The Birth of a Baby ("not in the public interest"), Green Pastures, Susan and God (blasphemy), Reefer Madness and Of Mice and Men (sex and violence in combination).
  • 1942 - The Monster and the Girl, The Man With Two Lives, The Invisible Ghost, and King Kong, Frankenstein, Dracula plus their respective sequels are all banned.
  • 1964 to 1970: R. J. Prowse is appointed Chief Censor and Campbell goes into the Appeals Board. During the liberal 1960s many more films were being banned including The Miracle, Viridiana, La Dolce Vita, Satyricon, The Silence, Blowup and Zabriskie Point.
  • 1971: Customs Minister Don Chipp begins the development of a new classification system which includes the much-needed R18+ rating for adult content, meaning movies that were once banned are gradually released.
  • 1972: Pink Flamingos was banned until 1984, when it is passed with an X18+ (later R18+) rating.
  • 1975: Under pressure from Western conservatives, the OFLC viewed the arthouse Belgian film Vase de Noces (a.k.a. Wedding Trough) and banned it from being played at the Perth International Film Festival (before this, film festivals were not held by restrictions of the censors). In a controversial move, the board lifted the ban on appeal, and the film was allowed to be screened.
  • 1976: Pasolini's Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma is banned. Vase de Noces is re-banned, and it remains banned to this day.
  • 1984 : A governmental conference is held, resulting in the X18+ rating being introduced to cope with the upsurge in hardcore pornographic films, and the later abolition of X18+ rated material in most Australian states (ownership of hardcore porn remains legal). Cannibal Holocaust, an extremely graphic cannibal film by director Ruggero Deodato, was banned until 2005.
  • 1986: Lucker the Necrophagous is banned due to its graphic necrophilia content.
  • 1990: Gail Malone is fired and the Queensland Film Board of Review is disbanded when the new Labor Premier Wayne Goss is outraged that the Board had banned an edited version of Bad Taste after a three-week run in cinemas (the South Australian Classification Council cut it by a further 4 min 30 sec for an M rating). It is later released uncut on DVD. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors was also banned for a brief period, but later released on VHS and DVD.
  • 1992: The Chinese gore film Dr. Lamb, previously banned in 1981, is released with 9m 30s cut (the poster is still banned). Nekromantik, its sequel Nekromantik 2 and Joe D'Amato's Buio Omega are banned for necrophilia content, The Beast in Heat is banned for excessive sexual violence and Final Exit are banned for controversial themes after customs consfiscations.
  • 1993: The ban on Pasolini's Salò is lifted. The MA15+ classification is introduced.
  • 1995: Twelve queer films are banned from 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. [1]
  • 1996: The Frighteners was banned in Tasmania because of sensitivity of the nature of the recent Port Arthur massacre (including a similar appearance of the film's antagonist and the gunman, Martin Bryant). The film has been since been televised and as released on VHS and DVD without problems.
  • 1997: Pasolini's Salò is re-banned, a ban still in force.
  • 2000: Romance is banned, but is later passed on appeal by the OFLC with an R18+ rating.
  • 2002: Baise-moi is banned after initially being passed with an R18+ rating.
  • 2003: Ken Park is banned, and NSW police close down a planned screening of the film.
  • 2005: Wolf Creek was temporarily banned in the Northern Territory to avoid influence during the trial of Bradley John Murdoch for murder. It is re-released in the Northern Territory in January 2006.[2] The OFLC unbanned a number of previously banned films including Cannibal Holocaust and The New York Ripper after a lengthy review. The South Australian Classification Council upgrades the classification of 9 Songs from R18+ to X18+, effectively banning it in South Australia (it remains R18+ in the rest of the country).



Prior to the late 1980s and early 1990s, all Canadian provinces banned films with no purpose other than the display of explicit sexuality or excessive violence.

At present, only films containing prohibited material (such as child pornography) or under court order (such as libel or copyright infringement) are banned in Canadian Provinces.


Because only a few imported films are granted permission to screen each year in China, only blockbuster or widely known films are listed.

See also: Censorship in the People's Republic of China, Film



Early 1960s: The government of Gamal Abdel Nasser banned all films starring Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, Samantha Kaur Alukh and several other American actors and actresses due to their strong, public support of Israel.


Other films banned in Finland include:







Due to the small size of the country, films banned by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) are rarely even submitted for release in Ireland, due to the high costs of promotion and distribution for such a small area. Similarly, BBFC cuts are often left in DVD releases due to the difficulties in separating the two supplies.

Banned movies can still be viewed at private members clubs with 18+ age limits.


Although there is a censorship board run by the government and in which one member is drawn from the Roman Catholic Church, very few movies are not certified for release. Notably, Lion of the Desert, starring Anthony Quinn and concerning the Libyan revolution against Italy, and a few other films concerning Italian war crimes during its brief colonial history were banned for a time during the post-Mussolini period. Almost all Pasolini's movies, including Salo: 120 Days of Sodom (1975), were banned for a while but then released. Last Tango in Paris was banned for some time as well. Another Italian film, Cannibal Holocaust, was banned in Italy from 1980-1984. It was banned on the belief that the actors were actually killed for the movie (i.e. that it was an actual snuff film). When this was proven false, it was banned by an animal cruelty law (the film features the actual slayings of many animals), until the verdict was overturned in 1984. Also banned under Mussolini was the film adaptations of Ayn Rand's novel We the Living, titled Noi vivi and Addio, Kira.


Despite Japan's strict censorship policy on nudity, very few films are banned there.

Those that are banned are usually put under self imposed studio bans by the companies that produced them.

The film was never released on VHS, laserdisc or DVD and to this day the only way to see it is through its heavily edited US version.

  • 1958: Varan the Unbelievable was put under a self imposed studio ban by Toho for some of the same reasons that Half Human was but was finally released in the 1980s on VHS and laserdisc (with a few lines of reportedly racist dialogue removed from the film).
  • 1969: Teruo Ishii's exploitation flick Horror of Malformed Man was put under a studio ban by Toei due to the film's numerous offensive elements.

These days, with the film currently unavailable in any format in Japan or the West, the only way to see it is through the occasional screening.

  • 1974: Toho placed yet another one of their films under a self imposed ban, this time Prophecies of Nostradamus, an apocalyptic disaster film after a group of hibakusha, or Hiroshima survivors, saw the film and were highly offended by sequences showing a research party being attacked by radioactive cannibals and a pair of horribly deformed post-apocalyptic mutants fighting over a worm. After airing the film uncut on television in 1980, Toho withdrew the film from circulation entirely. Toho attempted releasing this film onto VHS in the late 1980s but was stopped due to protests.

The only way to see the film is through the film's US version The Last Days of Planet Earth or through a grey market copy of the uncut version containing the time code at the top of the screen.



New Zealand




  • The Pakistani government has banned the import of Indian and American films, leaving piracy as the only way to distribute them.
  • 1999: South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (uncut version), banned just like the show, South Park, because of the parody of Saddam that the censors and the audience walked out of the theater as it says, "The first non-pornographic movie to be banned in Pakistan." Even though it says uncut in this title, the cut version was unbanned (the uncut version is still banned).
  • 2006: The Da Vinci Code, out of respect for the Christian community there.


  • 1997 -Witajcie w życiu (Welcome to the life), a documentary film by Henryk Dederko about Amway in Poland was banned after the Polish office of the Amway Corporation managed to get a court ban on the movie because they claimed it was libelous.





  • 1971: A Clockwork Orange was banned for 30 over years before an attempt for release was made in 2006. However the ban was not lifted when the submission for a M18 rating was rejected.
  • 1974: Life of Brian contains 'inappropriate' religious content which led the film to be banned.
  • 1981: The Evil Dead has been banned since its release in 1981. The authority disallowed it for "excessive graphic violence and gore".
  • 2003: 15 was initially banned, and the Singapore board of censors later ruled that the film should be rated R(A) and made 27 cuts to the film.
  • 2006: Shortbus was banned for its explicit sexual content.

Solomon Islands

South Africa

  • 1971: A Clockwork Orange was banned.
  • 1984: Cannibal Holocaust was seized by customs (specific year is unknown at this time). It was given an XX rating, which prevented it from being sold in the country. It is now rated 18 for a cut version (the uncut version is still banned).
  • 1990: Henry & June was banned.

Soviet Union


Sri Lanka

  • 2006: Aksharaya (Letter of Fire) was banned for dealing with issues of incest, murder, and rape.





Tunisia has some various censorship to films like these. They just don't accept it.

  • In 2007, 300 was banned for special war.


United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

  • 1932: Freaks is rejected by British censors and banned.
  • 1952: Freaks is again rejected for a cinema rating certificate.
  • 1954: The Wild One was banned from distribution in the United Kingdom until the late 1960s.
  • 1960: La maschera del demonio was banned until 1968 due to its violent content.
  • 1963: Freaks is finally passed with an X rating.
  • 1968: Roger Corman's film The Trip was banned due to glorification of LSD. It is later unbanned but not released in Britain until the mid-1990s, by which time the youth subcultures depicted in the film were extremely dated.
  • 1972: The Last House on the Left was banned by the BBFC until 2002.
  • 1974: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was famously banned by James Ferman (the reason for the ban is only known to Ferman himself, but many suggests that it was very shocking at the time). It was passed uncut in 1999.
  • 1975: Umberto Lenzi's Il Paese del Sesso Selvaggio is banned.
  • 1981: Ruggero Deodato's La Casa Sperduta nel Parco (The House on the Edge of the Park) is banned until 2002.
  • 1984: The infamous video nasty list is created to protect against obscenity. Films on this list were banned and distributors of said films were viable to be prosecuted (some of the films were banned before this list was made). This list banned 74 films at one point in the mid-80s, but the list was eventually trimmed down when only 39 films were successfully prosecuted. Most of the films (even of the 39 successfully prosecuted) have now been approved by the BBFC either cut or uncut.

This is the list of these films (it should be noted that all films that are forced to be cut by the BBFC are still banned in the UK in their original unedited format, and films in bold below are completely banned in the UK):

  • Absurd (original title: Rosse Sangue -- released with 2m 32s cut in 1983)
  • The Anthropophagous Beast (original title: Antropophagus -- released with approximately 3m of pre-cuts in 2002)
  • Axe (original title: Lisa, Lisa -- re-released uncut in 2005)
  • The Beast In Heat (original title: La Bestia in Calore -- Banned outright)
  • The Beyond (original title: E tu Vivrai nel Terrore - L'Aldilà -- re-released uncut in 2001)
  • Bloodbath (original title: Reazione a Catena -- released with 43s cut in 1994)
  • Blood Feast (re-released uncut in 2005)
  • Blood Rites (original title: The Ghastly Ones -- Banned outright)
  • Bloody Moon (original title: Die Säge des Todes -- released with 1m 20s cut in 1993)
  • The Bogey Man (original title: The Boogeyman -- re-released uncut in 2000)
  • The Burning (re-released uncut in 2001)
  • Cannibal Apocalypse (original title: Apocalypse Domani -- released with 2s cut in 2005)
  • Cannibal Ferox (released with approximately 5m of pre-cuts plus 6s of additional cuts in 2000)
  • Cannibal Holocaust (released with 5m 46s cut in 2001)
  • Cannibal Man (original title: La Semana del Asesino -- released with 3s cut in 1993)
  • Cannibal Terror (original title: Terror Caníbal -- released uncut in 2003)
  • Contamination (released uncut in 2004 and rated 15)
  • Dead & Buried (re-released uncut in 1999)
  • Death Trap (original title: Eaten Alive -- re-released uncut in 2000)
  • Deep River Savages (original title: Il Paese del Sesso Selvaggio -- released with 3m 45s cut in 2003)
  • Delirium (released with 16s cut in 1987)
  • Devil Hunter (original title: Il Cacciatore di Uomini -- Banned outright)
  • Don't Go In The House (released with 3m 7s cut in 1987)
  • Don't Go in the Woods (Banned outright)
  • Don't Go Near The Park (released uncut in 2006)
  • Don't Look In The Basement (original title: The Forgotten -- released uncut in 2005 and rated 15)
  • The Driller Killer (re-released uncut in 1999)
  • The Evil Dead (re-released uncut in 2001)
  • Evilspeak (re-released uncut in 1999)
  • Exposé (re-released with approximately 30s cut in 2006)
  • Faces Of Death (released with 2m 19s cut in 2003)
  • Fight For Your Life (Banned outright)
  • Flesh for Frankenstein (re-released uncut in 2006)
  • Forest Of Fear (original title: Bloodeaters -- Banned outright)
  • Frozen Scream (Banned outright)
  • The Funhouse (released uncut in 1987)
  • Gestapo's Last Orgy (original title: L'Ultima orgia del III Reich -- Banned outright)
  • The House by the Cemetery (original title: Quella Villa Accanto al Cimitero -- re-released with 33s cut in 2001)
  • The House On The Edge Of The Park (original title: La Casa Sperduta nel Parco -- released with 11m 43s cut in 2002)
  • Human Experiments (released with 26s cut in 1994)
  • I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses (released with 1m 6s cut in 1986)
  • I Spit On Your Grave (original title: Day of the Woman -- released with 7m 2s cut in 2001)
  • Inferno (re-released with 20s cut in 1993)
  • Island of Death (original title: Ta Pedhia tou dhiavolou -- released with 4m 9s cut in 2002)
  • Killer Nun (original title: Suor Omicidi -- re-released uncut in 2006)
  • The Last House on the Left (released with 31s cut in 2003)
  • Late Night Trains (original title: L'Ultimo treno della notte -- Banned outright)
  • Living Dead At Manchester Morgue (original title: Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti -- re-released uncut in 2002)
  • Love Camp 7 (Banned outright)
  • Madhouse (original title: There Was a Little Girl -- released uncut in 2004)
  • Mardi Gras Massacre (Banned outright)
  • Night Of The Bloody Apes (original title: La Horripilante bestia humana -- released with approximately 1m of pre-cuts in 1999)
  • Night of the Demon (released with 1m 41s cut in 1994)
  • Nightmare Maker (Banned outright)
  • Nightmare In A Damaged Brain (re-released with pre-cuts in 2005)
  • Possession (released uncut in 1999)
  • Pranks (original title: The Dorm That Dripped Blood -- re-released with 10s cut in 2001)
  • Prisoner Of The Cannibal God (original title: La Montagna del Dio Cannibale -- released with 2m 6s cut in 2001)
  • Revenge Of The Bogey Man (original title: Boogeyman II -- released with additional footage in 2003)
  • Shogun Assassin (re-released uncut in 1999)
  • The Slayer (re-released uncut in 2001)
  • Snuff (released uncut in 2003)
  • SS Experiment Camp (original title: Lager SSadis Kastrat Kommandantur -- released uncut in 2005)
  • Tenebrae (original title: Tenebre -- re-released uncut in 2003)
  • Terror Eyes (original title: Night School -- released with 1m 16s cut in 1987)
  • The Toolbox Murders (released with 1m 46s cut in 2000)
  • Unhinged (released uncut in 2004)
  • Visiting Hours (released with approximately 2m cut in 1986)
  • The Werewolf And The Yeti (original title: La Maldición de la bestia -- Banned outright)
  • The Witch Who Came From The Sea (released uncut in 2006)
  • Women Behind Bars (original title: Des diamants pour l'enfer -- Banned outright)
  • Xtro (released uncut in 1987)
  • Zombie Creeping Flesh (original title: Virus -- released uncut in 2002)
  • Zombie Flesh Eaters (original title: Zombi 2 -- re-released uncut in 2005

United States

Films are usually not banned today in the United States, as the First Amendment's section on freedom of speech is strictly enforced. Decades ago, however, obscenity was a valid reason for a film to be banned in certain cities across the nation.

Theoretically, free speech in the U.S. can also be limited if it might cause a clear and present danger of an imminent lawless action, or constitutes a copyright violation.


Note: These are all banned for portraying the Vietnamese in a negative light.



  • 2005: The Interpreter was banned by a September 2005 interdict from President Robert Mugabe's Office, stating that the film is “mischievous” and a “subtle denigration of our head of State by the Bush administration and the CIA.” Screening The Interpreter may contravene Section 13(1)(A) as read with subsection (6) of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act, and is in contravention of the Public Order and Security Act, which outlaws communicating statements deemed to undermine the Head of State.

Commenting on the ban, the Herald, a government-controlled newspaper in Harare, Zimbabwe, attacked the film, calling it an anti-Zimbabwean work supported by the CIA. The film has been approved for release and distribution inside the country by the country's official censorship board.

See also



Further reading

  • Forbidden Films: Censorship Histories of 125 Motion Pictures by Dawn Sova ISBN 0-8160-4336-1
  • Behind The Mask of Innocence: Sex, Violence, Crime: Films of Social Conscience in the Silent Era by Kevin Brownlow, 2nd ed. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992). Contains considerable information about film censorship in pre-1930 America, and discusses banned silent films in great detail.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "List of banned films" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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