What’s the best way to sell your movie when you’re painfully aware that it ranks only marginally above a Twilight fan-fiction in artistic merit? That’s right, a shocking and attention-snatching poster! It’s no secret that people love controversy, and often advertisers use this to their advantage in promoting films (both good and otherwise). Below are ten of the worst offenders, along with some surprising entries
10. The People vs. Larry Flynt
This poster – featuring Woody Harrelson wearing nothing but a pair of star-spangled underwear – was banned by the Motion Picture Association of America, which didn’t clarify whether the ban was for its excessive sexuality or offensive religious symbolism (Harrelson is posed like Jesus on the cross, between a pair of female legs). The movie itself focuses on censorship – relish the irony here. In any case, we’re pretty sure the real reason for the ban is that showing Woody Harrelson wearing nothing but a diaper is legally considered a human rights infringement.
9. The Rules of Attraction
This poster, depicting stuffed animals in various obscene positions, was also rejected from display in America by the MPAA (but allowed in Canada and Great Britain, which gives some interesting insight into how the respective countries view sexually-themed material). The use of stuffed toys is almost certain to have contributed to the ban, as their use is discouraged in any advertisements not intended for children. We’re sure this poster resulted in some interesting questions from children in Great Britain and Canada… the animals are only wrestling, kids.
Considering the film’s subject matter (a girl who possesses a horrifyingly-located spare set of teeth), we feel this poster is actually relatively tasteful… with a pronounced emphasis on the “relatively”. That wasn’t enough to stop the poster being censored from public display thanks to its sexually explicit nature, though.
7. Dying Breed
We predict that exactly nobody was surprised when this gory poster was rejected for display in Australia by advertising company Adshel for being “too gruesome”. The producers stated that they “wanted to stand out from the crowd” and to their credit, we guess they succeeded on that front. Still, the ban is probably for the best – the interiors of meat pies are terrifying enough as it is.
6. Zach and Miri Make a Porno
This one isn’t quite so obvious at first glance, but look towards the bottom of the poster. This poster was censored for sexual content, in the form of a depiction of oral sex – despite the fact that both actors appear fully clothed. It’s difficult to imagine that the MPAA didn’t expect a controversial poster, given the title of the movie. As with several of the posters on this list, this one was allowed to be displayed in Canada.
5. Coco Avant Chanel
We promised a surprise. A particularly bizarre entry on this list, this poster was banned in France due to its depiction of fashion icon Coco Chanel having a smoke. This violates a French advertising law which prohibits the “direct or indirect” promotion of cigarettes, a response to the huge numbers of smokers in France.
4. The Hills Have Eyes 2
This poster was censored by the MPAA for horrifying imagery and the depiction of torture – reasonably enough, given that it features a bound, hooded figure being dragged away in a sack. What makes this case particularly interesting is that the poster was eventually allowed to be displayed, with one slight modification – a leg was protruding from the sack, instead of an arm. Our best guess is that the hand makes it clear the victim is alive, and we guess torture is slightly more horrifying than murder. It does seem a little nitpicky, though, and more than a little morbid.
3. Ali G Indahouse
The Advertising Standards Authority banned this poster in the United Kingdom after they reportedly received over 100 complaints that the poster was too offensive for public display. Hardly a surprise, given that the poster shows Sacha Baron Cohen reaching between a naked woman’s legs and resting a hand on her behind.
2. The Outlaw
For an interesting comparison between censorship laws past and present, look no further than this deliberately controversial movie poster, banned for its racy nature. Despite the fact that the poster contains no real nudity, partial or otherwise, the focus on the subject’s ample breasts was enough to warrant a ban in 1943.
1. Shoot ‘em Up
This poster was banned for supposedly “glamorising the use of guns and violence”, despite the producers’ defence that the guns in the image are intentionally directed away from the viewer (why directing guns at the audience would make them more glamorous is unclear to us, too). This ban is particularly interesting, given that guns and violence are glamorized in the posters of a couple of other films, such as every action movie ever made. We suppose this one will forever remain a mystery.