A horror-comedy film that has been a worldwide cult hit and has already played in Australia has been effectively banned by the Classification Board.
Father's Day, an over-the-top revenge fantasy from the infamous Troma horror stable and written and directed by an emerging Canadian collective called Astron-6, was refused classification on October 31 by Australian Classification, the government agency responsible for the classification of films, publications and computer games.
The film was assessed as RC (refused classification), meaning it cannot legally be screened or distributed in Australia in its present form, despite the fact it was granted an exemption from classification earlier this year to allow it to screen in a horror festival in Sydney.
Father's Day features a character with the evocative name of Fuchman enacting revenge on sexual abusers, and features a scene in which he bites off another man's penis. In the words of Adam Brooks, one of the five partners in Astron-6, it features "brutal mayhem, dad rape, maple syrup, friendship" and "extreme gore, nudity, and general gross-out stuff".
The agency assessed the film as belonging to a category of films that "depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified".
The film was due to screen at Cinema Nova next week as part of Monster Fest, a 10-day program of horror films from local specialist distributor Monster Pictures.
It is not the first time Monster has found itself on the wrong side of an Australian Classification ruling. Its film The Human Centipede 2 was initially approved for release with an R rating but was later refused classification upon appeal to the Classification Review Board after complaints from Christian and family groups.
The film was later granted classification after some scenes were cut.
Neil Foley, manager of Monster Pictures, decried the latest decision. "We think it's an appalling decision. The film is a comedy, it's been taken way out of context. We're not really sure what scenes they have a problem with but there's nothing in this film that hasn't been seen before and anything that is in the film has been put there in the name of comedy by very talented, well-received and comic artists."
Mr Foley noted that the film had been approved for release in Britain, a country that he claims is generally less forgiving in such matters. "It's been taken in the right context everywhere in the world except Australia," he said.