If the MPAA slaps your movie with an NC-17 rating, the financial implications are enormous. Your film is suddenly classified as just a tiny step below hardcore pornography and cannot be accepted for theatrical release. Check out some of the best known horror movies that struggled to downgrade to an R-Rating.
1. Grindhouse: Planet Terror / Death Proof
Problems with Censorship:
Rated NC-17 for gratuitous violence, obscene sex/nudity, and harsh language; edited version rated R for strong graphic bloody violence and gore, pervasive language, some sexuality, nudity, and drug use.
Problems with Censorship: Even schlocky early-'00s horrors were not immune to the censors' wrath.
Edited version rated R for violence including grisly images of torture, nudity and language.
3. American Psycho
Problems with Censorship: Director Mary Harron notes in fantastic documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated that the threesome scene was a particular trigger for the MPAA.
Edited version rated R for strong violence, sexuality, drug use, and language.
4. The Cell
Problems with Censorship: Yup, a movie starring Jennifer freakin' Lopez was almost kept out of theaters for 'bizarre sexual images.'
Edited version rated R for bizarre violence and sexual images, nudity and language.
5. Evil Dead
Problems with Censorship: Following in the noble tradition of Sam Raimi's original Evil Dead trilogy, which all required several cuts before the MPAA would deign to offer an R-Rating, Fede Alvarez's Evil Dead was chopped and changed considerably before theatrical release.
Originally rated NC-17, edited version rated R for strong bloody violence and gore, some sexual content and language.
6. Saw 3D
Problems with Censorship: All of the Saw movies struggled to attain and R-Rating without losing the virulent gore that became the franchise's signature. While every Saw film had censorship problems, Saw 3D particularly suffered:
[Saw 3D] had to be edited six times for an R-rating to be approved.
Problems with Censorship: Despite its comedic portions and knowing meta-take on the horror genre, the MPAA still demanded Scream be sliced and diced.
Seven seconds of gore was cut in order to obtain the R. Edited version rated R for strong graphic horror violence and gore, and for language.
8. Texas Chainsaw 3D
Problems with Censorship: Many of the Texas Chainsaw movies encountered problems with the MPAA insisting upon dramatic cuts.
[Texas Chainsaw 3D] had to cut out the extreme amount of gore when it was sent to the MPAA. Neither Twisted Pictures nor Nu Image had a credit on the finished film, which had to be re-cut before release, as it received an NC-17 rating due to excessive gore during its initial submission to the MPAA.
Considering that many of these films are big releases from famous directors, this censorship is surprisingly similar to the Video Nasty hype of earlier years. A bunch of anonymous people sitting in a room somewhere decide what you can and can't watch... a help or a hinderance to movie lovers?