There's no such thing as bad publicity, so the saying goes. Most of the time, the higher the controversy, the higher the intrigue. And, when it comes to cinematic censorship, slapping red tape all over a movie only encourages audience enthusiasm.
Whether it be for addressing politics, social issues or religion, getting your mitts on something once (or still) censored delivers a thrill akin to sneaking into places forbidden, like the faculty room or, as far as this list is concerned, the adult section.
Each of the 11 movies below were once censored for being far too sexy. So sexy in fact, that it was claimed one offends "against the standards of morality"...
1. Irréversible - 2002
Almost banned in: Australia and New Zealand
Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible received a shed-load of criticism when it first hit markets in Australia and New Zealand, with film critic Chris Banks deeming it "the most homophobic film ever released." However, it was mostly the film's brutally violent content which caused such offense, including an intense and almost unwatchable rape scene featuring Monica Bellucci.
Noé also included a cameo clip of himself jerking off, cause every cake needs a cherry on top.
2. Ken Park - 2002
Banned in: USA, UK, Australia
Addressing teenage promiscuity, Ken Park told the stories of several adolescents and their experience of abuse, drug addiction, underage sex, and violence. The movie was banned in the USA, UK and Australia, but all for different reasons.
In America it wasn't theatrically released due to music right issues. In the UK its lack of release was due to the director physically assaulting the distributor. But in Australia, however, Ken Park was censored due to their ratings board finding that the film...
“… deals with matters of sex in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults.”
3. Brokeback Mountain - 2005
Banned in: The Middle East
This devastating love story was condemned by hardcore conservative Americans for pushing the "gay agenda." Several Christian groups went to extreme lengths to complain about how the homosexual behavior in Ang Lee's cinematic masterpiece was destroying their traditional values.
Middle Eastern countries, such as the UAE, banned the movie outright. However, when Brokeback Mountain was screened in Italy, all homoerotic scenes and references were removed...which resulted in cinema-goers complaining that the plot made zero sense. Go figure.
4. The Last Temptation of Christ - 1998
Banned in: Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Philippines and Singapore
So it was probably pretty obvious that a movie depicting Jesus as a dude with insatiable sexual desires, deviating from all things holy, was going to ruffle a few feathers, but I don't think anyone was quite expecting the reaction The Last Temptation of Christ received.
Thousands protested the film's release in the US, resulting in a partial national theater ban, one of the leaders even offered to buy the negatives from Universal in order to destroy them.
The reaction in the US pales in comparison to France, though, which resulted with a group of fundamentalists storming a theater and throwing a Molotov cocktail (petrol bomb) into the crowd - injuring around a dozen people and seriously damaging the building.
5. Eyes Wide Shut - 1999
Almost banned in: USA
This story has a, er, happy ending.
Stanley Kubrick passed away one week after the editing was finished on his harrowing sexual-fantasy film, Eyes Wide Shut. Thus, he wasn't around when it came to fighting the censors regarding that pretty risqué, Illuminati-esque, orgy scene. So, Warner Bro's had to delete all the scenes deemed to steamy for cinematic release.
The uncut version did go straight to DVD though, so not all sordid kicks were lost.
6. Fifty Shades of Grey - 2015
Banned in: Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Kenya, United Arab Emirates, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia
Crowds went wild for the film adaptation of "literary" sensation, Fifty Shades of Grey, which ended up grossing $570 million worldwide.
Following the saucy S&M relationship between college student Anastasia Steele and the rich, influential Christian Grey, the film featured a myriad of kinky clips which were deemed too sexy for more than a couple of countries.
7. Last Tango in Paris - 1972
Banned in: Italy, Chile, Portugal, South Korea, and parts of Canada
Accused of masking "self-serving pornography as art," Bertolucci was attacked by authorities and by his cast. According to reports, both Marlon Brando and French actress Maria Schneider accused the Italian director of emotional rape and manipulation. Especially when it came to shooting one of the sex scenes which was described by Schneider as a humiliating betrayal.
In Italy, Last Tango in Paris was initially released, then removed from circulation and Bertolucci was slapped with a prosecution for obscenity. All prints were destroyed, his civil rights were revoked and the film was banned in Italy for the next 15 years.
8. I Want Your Love - 2012
Banned in: Australia
Australia's Classification Board deemed Travis Matthews' first feature film, I Want Your Love, unfit for a gay film festival because the sex scenes were too explicit.
James Franco jumped to the film's defense, calling the ban "embarrassing," adding:
"I don't know why in this day and age something like this, a film that's using sex not for titillation but to talk about being human, is being banned."
9. Cruising - 1980
Banned in: Finland, Iran, and South Africa
The chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) famously told Oscar-winning William Friedkin and his producer that there “aren’t enough Xs in the world to rate this movie.” Quite the accolade really, but unfortunately it lead to him having to cut around 40 minutes of the most explicit material.
The homosexual-themed psychological thriller, Cruising, caused a furious outrage within the gay community in America. They claimed that the film encouraged a homophobic attitude and that it promoted ideas of the gay community living a deviant lifestyle.
10. Nymphomaniac - 2013
Banned in: Turkey
Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, which follows the vigorous sexual awakening of its protagonist, Joe, created quite the stir in Turkey when the country's cinema director Cem Erkul banned the film for being too porn-like.
“This film is in the porn category…because of its explicit sexual scenes. It also depicts extreme violence against women.”
Fellow board member, Yamac Okur, called the ban "unacceptable" and tantamount to censorship, while film director Nuri Bilge Ceylan took to Twitter to question why an outright ban was necessary when age restrictions are in place.
11. Pink Flamingos - 1972
Banned in: Australia, and some provinces in Canada and Norway.
John Waters' cult classic Pink Flamingos, starring Divine, is now ubiquitous for launching the underground notoriety of drag queens. However, when it was first released it was slapped with a ban in Australia, Canada and Norway for "perverse acts" and indecent exposure.