Why The Movie Evil Dead Was Banned In Several Countries

In the era of films like "Human Centipede" and "Hostel," it can be hard to imagine a horror movie being banned for being too gory. But in fact, this was once a relatively common practice. In the 1970s and 1980s, violent and bloody horror movies were relatively new fare for audiences, and they received a lot of backlash as a result (via Movieweb). Some countries outright banned disturbing films, while in other places, social backlash drove the restriction of movie sales. In the United Kingdom, for instance, especially gory movies were dubbed "video nasties" and derided by critics and religious leaders (via IMDb).

One movie that ended up on this list of banned films was "Evil Dead." The movie, directed by Sam Raimi and starring Bruce Campbell, came out in 1982. It is sometimes dubbed the first "video nasty" (via Movie Cultists). The film follows a group of teenagers who visit a remote cabin and find themselves possessed by demons, according to the University of Delaware. Its gory content didn't just earn it a spot on the U.K. video nasties list: it also got the movie banned in countries like Finland, Singapore, and Ukraine.

Movie grading systems in the 1980s

But what standards were set for movies in the 1980s? The current system for film ratings was first introduced in 1968, according to Film Ratings. This system ranks films from G to NC-17, in an effort to give viewers information about the types of content that will be in a movie. Movies of the two highest rankings, R and NC-17, can only be viewed by older teenagers and adults.

This ranking system replaced the Hays Code, a morality-based system which only allowed movies to be viewed if they were considered to be in line with a certain moral standard. When this code was replaced with the rankings system in 1968, it opened up a world of new possibilities for filmmakers, who were now able to make more controversial, groundbreaking films. Many different types of films emerged from this renaissance, including dark comedies and thrillers, according to Filmsite.

Graphic content in Evil Dead

"Evil Dead" was far from the first thriller to introduce gore and violence onto movie theater screens, but in many ways, it was bolder and more gruesome than similar films that had come before (via Movie Cultists). The movie was known for the large amounts of blood and gore which were shown on screen. It also contained demonic possession scenes which offended some religious audiences (via Filmsite). The movie drew particular backlash for perhaps its most graphic scene, in which a teenage girl running through the woods is grabbed by vines and raped by a tree.

Perhaps it's not surprising that the film caught some flak abroad. The movie was banned in multiple European countries, including Ukraine and Finland. Singapore hopped on the banning bandwagon as well, according to the University of Delaware. Of the film's controversial features, the sexual assault scene earned the most backlash, including in the United Kingdom, where certain cuts were made to censor the film before it could be shown.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).