Minutes ago this well-mounted defence of The Human Centipede II arrived in my inbox from its distributor, Monster Pictures. Earlier this week the film was banned from Australian screens after initially being given an R rating. Here is the full press release.
MONSTER PICTURES RESPONSE TO BANNING OF THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: FULL SEQUENCE
On Tuesday morning Monster Pictures received a phone call from a spokesperson from the Classification Review Board alerting us to the fact that THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: FULL SEQUENCE had been refused classification in Australia. This came less than twenty-four hours after a two and a half hour Classification Review Board hearing in Sydney. The hearing was convened by Victoria Rubensohn, and was attended by Ann Stark and Melissa De Zwark representing the Classification Review Board, and Tony Romeo, Neil Foley, Jack Sargeant and Laura Crawford representing Monster Pictures Australia, the Australian distributors of the film.
Monster Pictures would like to express our disappointment at this decision.
We presented a great deal of evidence, including the submissions of two highly regarded film experts (Jack Sargeant and Laura Crawford) to support our notion that this film was produced with significant artistic credentials, and with its contentious elements justified within the context of story and genre.
Unfortunately this was rejected by the Classification Review Board, whose subjective opinion it is that the film lacks artistic merit, and must be refused classification on the grounds that it “contains gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of violence with a very high degree of impact and cruelty which has a high impact”.
Monster Pictures rejects this notion outright.
Monster Pictures also rejects the notion that three middle-class women – two lawyers and a family therapist – who supposedly “broadly represent the Australian community”, have the ability or credentials to read or understand a film such as THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: FULL SEQUENCE.
Indeed much of our discussion around this black and white film, with its casting, sound and production design steeped in the traditions of underground, horror and avant-garde cinema, was on whether or not the film was “highly stylised” or “realistic”. In the opinion of the Convenor of the Review Board, this cinematic depiction is presented to the viewer as “realistic”, which therefore escalates the violence in the film from high impact, to very high impact, therefore making it eligible for a Refusal of Classification.
To Monster Pictures and its representatives this would suggest not only a total and ludicrous misunderstanding of cinematic conventions but also a blatant refusal to accept the evidence that was presented during the hearing. It is our belief that the review hearing was little more than an expensive waste of time, and that the Classification Review Board had already made up their mind about the film prior to our submission.
Monster Pictures would also like to draw attention to the fact that two ultra conservative Christian groups, Collective Shout and Family Voice Australia, are both claiming victory for the banning on their websites. We reject the notion that fringe groups – that are amongst many other things, anti-homosexual, anti-Islamic and anti-choice – can have this level of influence over what the adult public of this country can or cannot view in a cinema or in the privacy of their own homes.
To Monster Pictures this represents a growing and alarming trend of fundamentalism pervading the public arena.
To us this is a far broader issue than just THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: FULL SEQUENCE.
It is our opinion that every free-thinking adult in this country, whether they intend to view the film or not, should be alarmed by the increasing influence of the Christian right in such matters.
Monster Pictures believe that the original R 18 + Classification of THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: FULL SEQUENCE received in May 2011 was absolutely correct, and was arrived upon by a board who read the content and context of the film in a fair, unbiased and informed manner.
We believe the current ratings system to be a system that works well to identify the contentious points within a film, and to alert people to the nature of the viewing material.
Monster Pictures would also like to express our disapproval of the fact that the original assessment and subsequent rating provided by the Classification Board in May 2011 could not be used as evidence in our “hearing” to support our notion that the film contained no material that was unlawful or obscene in any way. We are outraged by the notion that two bodies working within the same system could apply the very same legislation to the very same material yet arrive at diametrically opposed conclusions – to us this would suggest a fundamental and very worrying bias by the Review Board, a bias that we believe to be highly influenced by political agenda.
In the end the fate of our investment comes down to the subjective opinions of three women – two lawyers and a family therapist – ignoring the opinions of film professionals and a Government appointed Classification Board, to reinterpret the material and to arrive at the conclusion that the film should be refused classification. In our opinion this is absolutely wrong.
Monster Pictures premiered the uncut version of the film at this year’s Brisbane International Film Festival. In addition we have just completed a national tour of the film, accompanied by Q&A sessions with the films lead actor Laurence R. Harvey.
The film has screened to sell out audiences in almost every capital city in the country, and has been unanimously well received. To the best of our knowledge the film has received no complaints as a result of these screenings – to the contrary we have been inundated with emails of support from people around the country outraged at this decision.
To Monster Pictures this only serves to highlight how out of touch the Classification Review Board is with the current standards of the Australian cinema going public, and how wrong they are in their interpretation of the material.
Monster Pictures is fundamentally opposed to any form of censorship of legally produced adult material.
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: FULL SEQUENCE was produced in the UK with full respect to the laws of that country. These laws are also in line with those of this country. There was no one harmed in any way in the production of this film. We reject any notion that any harm can be done to adults who view this material. We believe that the film’s director Tom Six has produced one of the most significant genre films in recent history – one that deserves to be seen in its original form by interested and consenting adults in this country.
Monster Pictures intends to resubmit a modified version of the film to the Classification Board. Once rated, we intend to continue our theatrical exhibition, which will lead to a DVD release early in the New Year. We also undertake to explore every option available to have this film released in full in this country.
End of Press Release.