Human Centipede II

The rotting remains of 2012's festival
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sherbetbizarre
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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by sherbetbizarre » Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:51 am

Good points, Richard. Maybe the OPA needs a good going over...

On a slightly unreleated note, does anyone know why distributors have films rated for "home" viewing ahead of cinema?

The BBFC will be stricter on home viewing, and if that results in media controversy, surely it may result in less leniency for a cinema classifaction?

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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by maxmum » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:46 am

zappa fan wrote:Excellent post Streetrw.

Agreed, well put and intelligent. :D
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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by Axe » Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:35 pm

sherbetbizarre wrote:Good points, Richard. Maybe the OPA needs a good going over...

On a slightly unreleated note, does anyone know why distributors have films rated for "home" viewing ahead of cinema?

The BBFC will be stricter on home viewing, and if that results in media controversy, surely it may result in less leniency for a cinema classifaction?
There was a time especially back in the days when James Ferman was in charge that the BBFC would often take a stricter line on what was submitted for home viewing but there is very little evidence that they do this anymore, despite the requirements of the VRA. So the days when they would make cuts for home viewing despite the cinema version passing uncut are virtually a thing of the past.

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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by sherbetbizarre » Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:31 pm

Yeah, you could be right about that...

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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by Mr Bill » Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:02 am

Great post from streetrw!

I hadn't realised just how many (often rhetorical) questions were contained in my angry rant until Richard took the time to answer them all in such calm and precise detail, the classification and censorship of films is, as Richard's post demonstrates, a complex issue that could be discussed in extraordinary technical and legal detail for days on end, and would still throw up more questions than answers.

Mr Street's comprehensive outline of the system, as it works at present, is of course accurate, as is the acceptance that change is unlikely any time soon. But I don't share his diffident attitude towards the regulation in place, or the quite defeatest attitude that there is nothing that can be done about Human Centipede 2 and other recent BBFC decisions, like the heavy cuts to A Serbian Film or I Spit on your Grave remake.

I am well aware that the real problem is the OPA, a truly dubious piece of outdated legislation that was reappropriated rather badly by the DPP in the eighties to apply to horror fiction rather than just actual pornography, for which it was created, but I don't think we should let the BBFC off the hook so easily. The overzealous decisions made under James Ferman's reign is a clear example of just how subjective and autocratic BBFC rulings have been in the past, and also shows how those decisions have not endured the real acid test of public oppinion over time.

The real role of the BBFC is, as I understand it, to protect distributors from prosecution under the OPA, by not allowing a classification certificate to films that could be prosecuted under the vague terms of the act. However the ruling of the BBFC does not necessarily mean that a film is in breach of the OPA, in fact it is up to the DPP to prosecute the distribution of a film they feel is in breach of the OPA, and the history of this is also quite suspect.
During the Video Nasties fiasco, the DPP drew up a list of films (at the time being distributed without regulation) that he considered could be prosecuted under the completely new interpretation of the OPA to cover horror as well as porn, the bulk of these prosecutions were ultimately unsuccesfull as the films were not considered, in a court of law, to be obscene. Once the prosecutions failed, the films were later able to reapply for classification from the BBFC, and were normally granted a British 18 certificate.

So although achieving a BBFC certificate means that a film is deffinately not obscene, being refused a certificate by the BBFC does not necessarily mean that a film is obscene, but in modern pragmatic reality it is the decision of the BBFC that is taken as law and ultimately effects whether or not we will legally get to see a film in it's intended form. Very few horror films have been succesfully prosecuted under the OPA, yet the BBFC continues to censor films on the basis that they fall foul of the Act, and we unquestioningly accept the BBFC's oppinion like a kind of self fulfilling prophecy.

The decisions of the BBFC have always been at best subjective and at worst downright contradictory, and I feel strongly that film makers, distributors and viewers should have the right to challenge those decisions in a legal and proper way, without risking prosecution or needing a bucket of money to do so.

I still urge anybody who wants to see Centipede 2, or even just wants to make their own adult decision about whether or not to watch it, to sign the petition on sherbetbizarre's link.

My arguement that the BBFC is a waste of time and money is of course a naive and fanciful one, but not without validity.
Just as Twitter made a mockery of the recent superinjunctions, bit torrent sites will make a nonsense out of the BBFC's decision on Centipede 2, so I am still completely baffled by the sense behind not allowing a film to pass through the proper channels in one specific country, when the film will be out there regardless.

My continued frustration (and the unhappy place that my post with all the angry ?s came from) is based very much in the day to day real world, complete with its buggered economy and ongoing unwinnable land wars, and addressing the failings of the OPA and BBFC is not a low priority as Richard suggests, but actually even more pertinent- banning films and driving them underground further dammages the economy, while all the gratuitous and ineffective regulation is very expensive.
In times of financial austerity it would surely make sense to "cut back" on gratuitous regulation that eats into public funds while also hindering both the production and consumption of films that could help us out of recession.

I run an old fashioned, independent Videoshop and Internet Cafe, and this very unglamorous, public facing view of the industry colours my indignation towards the BBFC.
As my livelihood is based on people legally buying and renting BBFC approved films, I have a very dim view of piracy and file sharing, and keen to stay within the law at all times, last year I ordered in copies of the BBFC approved, heavily cut, Revolver release of A Serbian Film. However, a week or so before they arrived, a customer came into the shop and after a conversation about ASF and the BBFC, offered to lend me an uncut screener copy he had downloaded at home.

Now, when the customer is in a position to lend the videoshop a film, and not the other way around, you know that something within the British system of regulation and distribution is very wrong.

The BBFC's frequent decisions to censor rather than simply classify films like ASF, do not protect the public from exposure to the 'harmful' content, they merely move that exposure to an unregulated sphere (ie. the internet) where far worse material can be viewed alongside it (some of it uploaded from the ugly end of our unwinnable land wars).
This not only punishes the responsible film fans who choose to aquire their films legally, but also harms Revolver, Mr Spasojevic and myself, by driving what should be our customers into the hands of the less regulated, illegal pirates and torrent sites.

I have to practice what I preach, and will not be rushing straight to any torrent site to watch Centipede 2 as many on here presumably will. I stubbornly choose to watch films through the proper channels and thereby ensure that the filmmakers, producers and all others responsible for their creation get paid!
As a result, I will probably not get to see Centipede 2 any time soon, so as the saying goes "no good deed goes unpunished".

If the OPA has any legitimate relevance (and I'm not sure it does) to our contemporary viewing habbits as a nation, then it is far more important to apply it to the internet than to feature films, either on dvd or in the cinema.

I don't think there is any point in the BBFC refusing a certificate to a fictional horror film (without animal or child cruelty) that has been granted a certificate in other western countries like Australia, furthermore I resent it, why should us Brits have access to less than everybody else? I don't think we are a nation of irresponsible and suggestible prudes that want or need to be carefully nannied throughout our adult lives.

As far as the "monkey see, monkey do" arguement, I still have to reject that out of hand for many reasons. Firstly there is little to no evidence of it being a real concern, secondly it is far more important to be applied to the likes of Jackass and Spiderman where young people might try and recreate dangerous stunts or naively believe in the feasibility/legitimacy of vigilante action etc, and in both these cases a simple disclaimer/warning (within the legal and regulated film format) works better than any impotent censorship that merely drives the film underground.
Finally and most importantly; I am not a monkey! and I resent any legal ruling that treats me like I am one, any legislation according to a lowest common denominator is offensive to the larger majority of people who aren't about to wrap barbed wire around their private parts, because we're not fucking idiots!

Ever since they changed their name decades ago, the BBFC is supposed to be concerned with film classification and not film censorship. I recognise the need to protect the young from harmful material, and the rules and procedures I voluntarily choose to devise and apply within my shop, do more to this end than the BBFC does. I don't allow under 18s to open a rental account, nor do I allow unsupervised children to use the internet terminals, under 18s can rent films (within their age certificate) only with their parents' permission (verified through a password system), but even then It's not so simple.

You all will have noticed on your recent dvd purchases, the blue Irish film certificate alongside the BBFC certificate, normally this is the same certificate demonstrating just how benign and pointless the BBFC is, but if you keep looking through your collection you will find some without the blue cert on the box art, this is because the BBFC disagrees and has given a different certificate, but if you look on the actual disc you will normally find the Irish certificate. In most cases of difference, the BBFC is actually lower than the Irish one. Recent examples would be; Black Swan, Kick-Ass, Superbad and Dog Soldiers, and the first two of those titles have brought me more concerned parents than ASF, Centipede 1 and my entire Video Nasty collection combined. I now choose to warn parents when a film has been given a strangely low certificate by the BBFC.

I find it strange and suspicious that when it comes to adult films that were always happy to accept an over 18s only certificate, the BBFC chooses to lean on the side of caution and censor the content, just in case some mentally or morally defficient adult might hurt themself or others with some barbed wire, but when it comes to films deemed adult in other countries the BBFC leans on the side of liberal inclusion (and therefore larger audience and higher profits for the big studios) and allows the film to pass a certificate lower, presumably unworried that teenage ballerinas and nerds might start to self harm or start fights with armed criminals.

I know this is both tangental and anecdotal, but it is my response to Mr Street's assertion that we can't live without the BBFC and that a lack of state organised regulation will lead to children coming out of videoshops with Cannibal Holocaust instead of Gulliver's Travels. I just don't think we need to stubbornly be different in our outlook to art and censorship than the rest of the western world, and I don't think our society would descend into violence, depravity and chaos if the BBFC simply dissolved overnight.

At the end of the day, It isn't the BBFC that dilligently checks people's age when they watch, borrow or buy a film, It isn't the BBFC that strives to offer a legal and competitive alternative to unregulated piracy and file-sharing, It isn't the BBFC that informs parents that Kick-Ass and Black Swan are 'towards the upper end of the 15 certificate', and It isn't the BBFC that stops people accessing Jihadist beheadings, bomb making instructions and child porn on the internet- It's people like me at the retail 'point of sale' end of the industry.

It's not the eighties any more and the industry isn't as morally bankrupt as you might think.

I would like to see the OPA revised or even scrapped, and I would like to see the BBFC held to account for their decisions and made to consult more with producers and consumers alike when making those decisions, but all I have suggested on here is that people sign the petition appealing the BBFC's ruling on The Human Centipede part 2.

Thanks again to Richard Street for his very informative post, although responding to it has made me very late for my appointment with Duke Nukem.
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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by DoctorKaren » Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:27 am

daveroughcut wrote:Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck' Where's the torrent? ;-p
It's been blocked off by the virus dam(n)! ;-)
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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by iomega » Sat Jun 11, 2011 7:41 am

First, I would like to say that I'm jolly impressed with the grown up conversation going on here. It takes me back to the heady days of this forum a couple of years ago.

Just so you know, the BBFC don't have the power to ban any film. It's local councils who have this power, because it's local councils that licence cinemas. In practice councils go along with the BBFC's advice. You will have seen an example of this in action last year with A Serbian Film. At the time the film was uncertificated, so we applied to Westminster Council for permission to show. They then contacted the BBFC, who as it turned out had seen the film at an advisory screening. This is where the list of cuts requested came from. Often distributors will submit a film to the BBFC before they acquire a film to see how the land lies.

Also, note the form of words. "Refuse to certificate" not ban. In cases such as this films have still played in London, usually at the Odeon's in Covent Garden or Tottenham Court Road. They are in Camden

With my exhibitors hat on, the rating system for films is very important. Very occasionally do the BBFC get it wrong. In the years that I've been working in cinemas, I can only think of a couple. The first one goes back many years to the original Karate Kid film. The film went out in the US as a PG-13, but in their wisdom the BBFC gave it a 15 certificate in the UK. This turned what was a surefire hit into a cinema flop, because its audience couldn't get in to see it. The film then went on to become one of the first huge video hits. Even though it still had its 15 certificate on it's video release, in this case the public chose to ignore the advise, and the film was watched by all members of the family. The same thing happened again not so long ago with Mrs Doubtfire. Again, it was given a 15 certificate, but in this case many local councils around the country, including the one where the cinema I was working at the time, decided this was wrong and re-certificated it locally to 12A

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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by MaxRenn » Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:12 am

What's most frustrating about this situation is that whatever your stance about the BBFC it is extremely difficult to make a considered judgement on the merits of the decisions to refuse The Human Centipede II a certificate as none of us have seen it. Which is I suppose the Catch 22 of classification. It is a shame that the film was submitted for classification in advance of the Festival in August, as if it had not I think there might have been an outside chance it could have been screened. I can't see that this can possibly happen now as Westminster Council would surely refuse permission. The suggestion of screening it in August as a "secret screening" won't fly, FrightFest is not going to jeopardise it's future for the perhaps dubious merits of one film.

I will be very interested to hear more from the filmmakers and the BBFC on the details of this decision, although as the distributor has confirmed they will appeal it, legally I think neat her side can comment at length (or will want to) until the appeal is heard and decided.
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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by daveroughcut » Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:50 am

So right Stuart,

IF the distributors had not been seeking certification of the film it likely would not have come to anyone's attention until after the Frightfest screening but then could FF have come under attack post-screening like the case in Spain with A Serbian Film? Ten hers ago I'm sure the Festival could have been a bit ballsier but you're right to even suggest screening it now could cause trouble for Alan and Co. I'll just need to make do with the 22 new films i am going to see :shock:

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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by rawshark » Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:47 am

Really interesting thread here.

One slight amend regarding A Serbian Film. Revolver didn't provide the film for "an advisory screening" early on. Westminster Council said they would allow the film to be screened if it had a BBFC certificate, so Revolver then made an official DVD classification submission. This is where the list of requested cuts came from. I believe Anchor Bay had submitted I Spit on Your Grave for an early advisory screening.

Going back to Human Centipede 2 and Sherbertbizarre question on "home" and "cinema" classification, it may well be a materials issue. To submit for DVD classification, you only need the DVD. To submit for theatrical classification you need the specific materials used in cinemas - in the past this was mostly physical 35mm prints, but equally can now be digital format such as a DCP.

So, whilst it's a very fair point from Axe mentioning that the gap between theatrical and home entertainment classification is not as wide as it once was, with HC2 it was probably easier to submit first for DVD, then alter the master tape (should there have been any cuts requested) for a follow-on theatrical submission if the film had have been certified.

Will be very interesting to see what happens from the appeal.
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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by Axe » Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:37 pm

Yes it will be very interesting.

Just curious to see the film myself to see if it really could not be passed with cuts as the BBFC claim.

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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by odishon » Sun Jun 12, 2011 11:04 am

At the BBFC discussion before 'Cannibal Holocaust' a couple of weeks ago, the BBFC said they do not sensor films by thinking of the effect on 'deviants' but on a general audience.
Most (non horror fan) friends and colleagues I talk to (possibly bore) with discussion on Human Centipede 2 say "Why would you want to watch something like that anyway?"
So if the BBFC are not protecting 'deviants' from being influenced and most non genre fans would run a mile after one glance at the synopsis then just who is being 'protected' here?

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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by Axe » Sun Jun 12, 2011 7:26 pm

The BBFC are never very clear as to whom exactly they are referring to in regards to harm. In intereviews I've read they just say "vulnerable adults" and the "wider society" need protecting from the possible harmful effects contained in certain videos and films.

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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by Satans Puppy » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:27 am

I'm learning stuff in this thread and I don't likes learning but this learning is good stuff!! :)
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[b]Disclaimer:[/b] This post may contain... more than likely contains an idiotic comment, feel free to ignore and move on :D

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Re: Human Centipede II

Post by streetrw » Mon Jun 13, 2011 5:56 pm

Mr Bill wrote:... A vast amount of material ...

A few more points in reponse:

[1] James Ferman: "We did bring films within the OPA in 1977 because at the time films were being prosecuted on account of one individual scene, which would be prosecuted under the common law indecency test; the film didn't have to be taken as a whole, which the OPA required, so it seemed very important that we should get film treated the same way as theatre, for example, was treated - as a significant work of art, even if it was a slasher movie." (From James Ferman At The National Film Theatre, 18 October 1990, transcribed from the first Shock Xpress book). In short, this meant that previously the "artistic defence" didn't apply until 1977, under which "... it might be possible to overlook details that would not be overlooked in a film without artistic merit." [ibid].

[2] What other countries do is entirely up to them, really. They are different cultures and different societies. Some countries have very strong Catholic traditions whereas others do not. There's a good compare and contrast at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_pic ... ing_system - in France, The Big Lebowski is the equivalent of a U and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a 12! Inland Empire was passed 12 in Germany.

And here's the outgoing director Robin Duval in 2004: "“The British are almost alone in Europe in their sensitivity to bad language. The French place a much higher premium upon the cultural value of a film than other nations. The Spanish tend to take a harder line than anyone on sexual immorality and the Scandinavians are most sensitive on violence and least on sex. Some European nations prohibit censorship for adults, others cut or ban films. In some countries the age ratings are advisory only, in others (including France) they are mandatory." (From the BBFC's news archive.)

[3] I don't buy that getting rid of the BBFC would achieve anything. Certainly not financial - they're funded by the distributors themselves rather than central government. A 100-minute DVD will cost £675 + VAT, £800 + VAT for theatrical. (These figures are all on their site.) Nor do I understand how you think relaxing the rules would help us out of recession - the billions and billions lost or owed is not going to be offset by doing away with film classification. This country owes around £43 billion a year IN INTEREST, not counting the actual debt itself. Allowing The Human Centipede 2 to be released on DVD will achieve nothing.

[4] You also mention their "frequent" decisions to censor rather than simply classify", which simply isn't the case. Censoring is rare unless there's a legal obligation to it. Clearly the BBFC feel there is a distinct possibility - not necessarily a probability - that this particular film would fail that test. In the cases of the 72 original video nasties they were all convicted by a jury at least once under the OPA. That they were subsequently acquitted and many are now commercially available (two with only a 15 certificate!) doesn't change this - they were found obscene in a British court of law.

[5] I'm well aware that it isn't quite as simple as "monkey see monkey do" - that is just shorthand. And it's true there isn't any evidence at all that one single well-adjusted normal member of society has been affected by any violent film or video to copy them. Every single case, as far as I gather, is either misreported or a case where the viewer was unstable to start with. What I get from the BBFC's statement is that it's the eroticisation of sexual violence, the sustained victimisation for sexual purposes that they're objecting to. This wasn't an issue with the first Human Centipede, which had no sexual content at all. The first one was about a mad scientist. This one is about a rapist and a w*nker who DOES re-enact what he sees in a horror film.

[6] And who checks someone's age when buying single malt or filter-tipped? The shopkeeper, just as the responsible video library checks ages when renting out a 15 or 18 DVD. In practice, nothing can be done to prevent the purchaser supplying his 9-year old with either tobacco and alcohol or A Serbian Film. No amount of legislation and no amount of labelling will ever stop dumbasses being bad parents.
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