Video store pulls censored DVD

A Hamilton video rental store has been forced to pull a movie from its shelves which was banned by censors for gratuitous scenes of rape and sadistic violence.

United Video Norton Rd owner Mike Puklowski said he had no idea the film was rated objectionable and was disappointed a worker in the store promoted it as "banned".

Within minutes of the Waikato Times contacting Mr Puklowski, staff were recalling copies of the movie from customers for destruction, and offering a refund.

"Sometimes classification decisions are made after release, but I had no idea, it was certainly not deliberate and I'll be getting it off the shelf straight away," he said.

The DVD, a brutal 2010 remake of 1970s horror exploitation film I Spit On Your Grave, was banned by censors early last year, but Mr Puklowski said that had not been flagged by his suppliers and it had "slipped through the cracks".

"I was completely unaware and that concerns me greatly. We pride ourselves on our movie selection, but definitely not ones that have been banned," he said.

Censors last year approved a re-issue of the 1978 original on Blu-ray, but were scathing of the remake in a March 2011 decision by the classifications office.

"The [2010 remake] contains long and realistic scenes showing the brutal terrorisation and rape of a woman by a group of men. Later scenes show her implausible but sadistic vengeance against her tormentors," said censors.

It encouraged "attitudes that contribute to sexual violence, torture by terror and other extremes of cruelty and violence, particularly against women."

"The treatment of the woman before she is raped, is an all-too-plausible and realistic version of the kind of abuse meted out to many women. There is minimal effort to explain the sadistic behaviour of the male characters.

"The length of the scenes and their gratuitous focus on [her] suffering offer maximum opportunity for misogynistic pleasure. Viewers are repeatedly invited to share the point of view of the rapists and are therefore placed in the position of prurient voyeurs.

"Some viewers may well identify with male dominance and power, and echo the men's enjoyment of the woman's terror and humiliation."

Dr Richard Swainson - owner of niche video outlet Auteur House - said he was philosophically against censorship, but he was surprised a mainstream store would put itself at risk by promoting a film rated objectionable by censors.

"But let's be realistic here, we're operating in an environment where hardcore pornography is easily accessed with a couple of clicks. Things like [graphic horror movie franchise] Saw changed the definition of entertainment in terms of violence and exploitation, and what is now acceptable to the mainstream.

"Sadistic violence has open slather after Saw, I would have thought."

A spokeswoman from the Office of Film and Literature Classification confirmed the film was objectionable, a ruling which meant possessing, or downloading it would be an offence.

Waikato Times