Censorship is always a thorny issue. I'm generally of the opinion that context is everything: Let's not post scary teething vaginal canals in schools, but let 'em rip in a video store for adults. However, a common sense approach is not always in style when it comes to censoring, banning, and altering movie posters in general.
Censorship in American movies is carried out by the MPAA, the only public service organization apart from the CIA to operate in total secrecy. More than anything else, it's a fascinating reflection of current moral codes to see what did and did not draw outrage from this secretive group.
Check out 10 horror movie posters that have been banned in the last 10 years, and the altered versions that passed the censors.
Offending Image: Vaginal Teeth
This terrifying chompin' chocha was a little too much for the MPAA, who decreed that a foof full of fangs was an infringement on public decency. The posters below, in keeping with the campiness of the movie, managed to beat around the bush enough to bypass more moral outcry.
2. The Last Exorcism
Offending Image: Violence against a child
Many parents complained about the above image for The Last Exorcism, claiming that the placement of the blood on the girl's dress indicated some form of sexual violence. The image in the poster below however, showing a bloodless, possessed kid climbing a wall backwards, raised no concerns.
Offending Image: Violence by a child
Blink and you'll miss it, but the banned poster above shows the knife in the kid's hand, and the altered poster below moves the blade into the adult's hand. Personally, I find the image of an armed adult leading an unarmed child into the darkness far more disturbing!
4. Saw II
Offending Image: Finger stumps
This is another odd choice from the MPAA, who were clearly more troubled by stumps than a close up of the repellent fingers themselves. I guess, the fingers above being very clearly severed makes a kind of sense.
Offending Image: Calf 'n' Cleave Confusion
Park Chan-wook's bloodthirsty vampire horror may spill pints of the red stuff, but it was the artsy poster that caused concern for the censors. The lady vamp's cleavage was reduced by a few millimeters, and her legs edited out before the poster reached its widely distributed form below. Weird.
Offending Image: Cruel Quartet
A quartet of posters for grubby thriller Captivity caused outcry when they made it onto a billboard in full force. Perhaps seeing Jack Bauer's daughter in every stage of Abduction-Confinement-Torture-Termination was too much for the nice motorists in the area. The posters in their individual forms were deemed acceptable for theaters nationwide.
8. Hostel II
Offending Image: Meat
OK, how's this for funny: Hostel 2 shows a man's nuts getting cut out, a naked lady bathing in fresh virgin blood and a whole host of other tortures — but the poster gets banned for bearing a picture of some meat. It's literally just a lump of meat bought from a store. In contrast, the poster below — showing a naked woman hung upside down, screaming and crying - was accepted by the MPAA with no hesitation.
9. Dying Breed
Offending Image: Person Pie
I suppose the gristle and teeth in the above poster are a bit gross, but the jokey cartoon eye? Surely the censors can't object to something so ridiculous? Nope. The comedic cannibalistic snack was swiftly banned and replaced by the more traditionalist poster below.
10. The Hills Have Eyes II
Offending Image: Sack Captive
This is another of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it swaps: The poster above was banned by the MPAA, while the poster below was not. I guess the MPAA finds the idea of a live captive more repugnant than that of a dead body in a sack? Who even knows anymore.