Melon Farmers Original Version

Wolf Creek 2


Detailed Australian cuts


 

Cutting Edge Season 5 Episode 59: Wolf Creek 2...

Emasculated for an Australian MA 15+ rating


Link Here 31st October 2019

Wolf Creek 2

 

Director Greg McLean's Wolf Creek 2 was first screened at the Venice Film Festival in August 2013, with a general release following in its native Australia on February 20th, 2014. Coming some eight years after the original Wolf Creek that was released in 2005, Wolf Creek 2 sees sadistic serial killer Mick Taylor returning to terrorize and murder tourists in the Australian Outback. In this episode of Cutting Edge, we'll be looking at the classification of Wolf Creek 2 by the Australian Classification Board (henceforth the ACB) and the two different cuts of the film that were made available to Australian consumers.

 

Wolf Creek 1 at the Classification Board

Before discussing the sequel, it may be worth summarizing the classification issues that surrounded the original Wolf Creek when it was first seen by the ACB. The film was first classified R 18+ for theatrical release on August 25th, 2005 with the consumer advice:

The ACB classifies a film dependent on the so-called "impact" of several classification issues; these issues being themes, violence, language, drug use, nudity, and sex.

Classification issues that do not extend beyond very mild impact will receive a G rating, signifying General; a film that is suitable for all audiences. Mild impact issues are considered PG and are not recommended for children under 15 without adult guidance. Issues with a moderate impact are rated M, which is suitable for mature audiences over 15. This is an advisory rating, and children under 15 may legally access the material. MA 15+ films have strong impact content and are legally restricted to teenagers aged 15 and over. However, under 15s may view such films provided they are in the company of an adult guardian for the duration of the film. Finally, films with a R 18+ rating have content that the ACB considers to be high in impact and such films are restricted to adult audiences only. A further category exists that is reserved purely for pornographic films, X 18+, although such films are only available in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.

 

Wolf Creek 1 at the Review Board

With regards to the R 18+ classification awarded to Wolf Creek in 2005, the distributor Roadshow Films was not content with the decision and sought a reconsideration of the film's rating from the Classification Review Board, an entity described on the ACB website as:

"...an independent statutory body responsible for reviewing certain decisions of the Classification Board. The Classification Review Board is a different board to the Classification Board who only meet to review decisions of the Classification Board as needed."

Resultant outcomes for any one film can vary depending on the Classification Review Board's decisions including, but not limited to, the upholding of a rating issued by the ACB; a more lenient or more restrictive classification being awarded; and the altering of a film's accompanying consumer advice. Any decision made by the Classification Review Board, which operates on a majority based decision-making process, is a new classification decision that replaces the original ACB classification.

Roadshow Films filed an application for review five days after Wolf Creek had received its R 18+ rating, and the Classification Review Board convened on September 14th to vote on the validity of the original ACB decision. In a written submission, Roadshow stated that it:

"...feels that the treatment of violence in this film appears stronger than it actually is simply because it is Australian and because there is no satisfactory end to the film for an audience wanting "the bad guy" to get what is coming to him. When you review the film and take into account each individual scene, we believe that it fits into the impact test for an MA 15+ film as material that is no higher than strong."

However, the Classification Review Board upheld the original R 18+ decision, citing Wolf Creek's "ominous atmosphere" and "fear factor" along with nine sequences of violence and threat in the film which they felt contributed to an adult-only classification. Bad language was also an issue in their determination. In summary, the Classification Review Board stated:

"The Review Board is of the opinion that the documentary style of this film creates a level of realism which heightens the impact of the violence. That violence is frequent and, in some scenes, prolonged. Unlike typical "horror" movies, Wolf Creek does not employ the usual tension-releasing devices (such as exaggerated special effects or comedic relief), nor the stylised approaches to depictions of violence, instead striving for a tone of realism that takes it out of the realm of fantasy. This very realistic tone results in a film of high impact and the impact of the violence is high. The film is not suitable for minors to view."

As a result, Wolf Creek was reclassified R 18+ on September 17th, 2005 but with the amended consumer advice:

 

Wolf Creek 2: The Director's Cut

Wolf Creek 2 was submitted to the ACB some years later on August 8th , 2013 for a theatrical certification, again by Roadshow Films. After eighteen days, it was awarded with an R 18+ rating as per its predecessor for:

Three scenes in the film were cited as being the strongest, these being Mick's killing of the two policemen near the start of the film; Rutger's murder and the subsequent dismemberment of his body; and the removal of Paul's fingers with a circular saw. Defending its decision, the ACB stated in their classification file that:

"In the Board's view this film warrants an R 18+ classification as it contains material that it unsuitable for a minor to see. The classifiable element is violence that is high in viewing impact. [It] is episodic and realistic, [resulting] in copious, realistic blood and gore effects and includes decapitation and dismemberment. Sound effects (i.e. bones breaking, wet, blood splatter effects) also adds to the impact of the realistic, violent depictions."
 

Wolf Creek 2: The Emasculated Cut

Roadshow Films were once again not happy with the R 18+ rating so as a result, Wolf Creek 2 was resubmitted to the ACB for a new classification on December 4th, 2013 in a pre-cut, modified version that reduced the goriest violence from four sequences.

 

Cut Scenes: Brainless

The first sequence that was cut for the Australian theatrical release was the pre-titles sequence that features Mick's revenge killing of the two policemen who pull him over on the road. In the uncut version, there are numerous shots of the younger's policeman's partially decimated head after he is shot by Mick, followed by the sight of Mick stabbing the older policeman in the back after he tries to escape. Mick then sets the patrol car on fire, as we see the older policeman start to burn to death.

In the modified version, almost all shots of the younger policeman's bloody neck stump were removed, with the remaining shots heavily reduced in length. There was also a reduction in the sight of Mick stabbing's the older policeman before setting him on fire. Some dialogue was also cut in this sequence for continuity.


Cut Scenes: Dickless

Rutger's death was the second sequence that was reduced before a resubmission to the ACB. After Mick cuts off Rutger's head, there is extensive and explicit sight of Mick dismembering his naked body, including the sight of Rutger's penis being removed. The modified version heavily reduces this sequence, with the above images offering just a small selection of the graphic footage that was removed.
 


Cut Scenes: Faceless

Several minutes later, after Mick shoots Katarina through the face, the sight of the gaping wound seen shortly afterwards was reduced, which resulted in two brief shots being shortened in the modified submission.
 


Cut Scenes: Fingerless

The last changes made in the modified version concerned the sight of Paul having his fingers severed by the circular saw. In an extended sequence, Mick is playing a sadistic game with Paul, where a wrong answer results in Paul being tortured.

The modified version cuts the explicit sight of Paul's digits being removed, as well as shortening a shot of his bloody hand being held in a vice.
 

After considering the modified version of Wolf Creek 2 for an Australian theatrical release, the ACB commented that:

"In the Board's opinion this modified version of the film does not contain any classifiable elements that exceed a strong impact level; therefore this film can be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification. The film contains use of strong coarse language in the form of the word 'cunt' as well as use of the word 'fuck' and derivatives throughout."

The pre-cut, modified version of Wolf Creek 2 (for which the distributor had removed around two minutes of footage in comparison to the uncut R 18+ version) was classified MA 15+ on December 17th, 2013 for:



 

'Minor tweaks' to the truth: downplaying the cuts

Nevertheless, posters for the film in Australia continued to advertise the film with an R 18+ rating throughout the month of December, before a replacement poster debuted in January 2014 that advertised the new MA 15+ cut version.
 




Pre-release posted, left, advertising the R 18+ version. The final poster, right, was amended to carry the new MA 15+ rating.
 


Although heavy cuts were made to secure an MA 15+ rating, director Greg McLean was quoted on news.com.au on February 18th, 2014 (two days before Wolf Creek 2's theatrical release in Australia) as saying:

"I have final cut of the movie so the movie that's out there is finally my version."

However, McLean also admitted that the MA 15+ version contained "some very minor tweaks" that had been made to secure its teen-friendly rating.

 

Misguided Censorship in Australia

Cutting Edge spoke with Wolf Creek 2's screenwriter, Aaron Sterns, who was left bemused by the MA 15+ version. His essay, When Henry Met Mick: Misguided Censorship in Australia was recently published in the e-book, VHS Nasty: The Video Nasties: The Essential Guide to Video Nasties, Banned Films and Censorship . Sterns' piece discusses in detail the changes that were made to Wolf Creek 2 for the Australian market, with Sterns noting in particular that the effect of Rutger's death in the cut version is completely different from his original intentions. Sterns' essay is worth reading in full, but we feel that some of his key points are worth summarizing here:

"In the month prior to Wolf Creek 2's release in Australia it was decided by the film's distributors that the film needed an MA15+ cut to reach a wider audience. The scene of the beheading of Rutger and his subsequent no-holds barred butchering were reduced. The scene arguably loses some of its power and certainly no longer has the intended impact of making the audience experience an almost unadulterated depiction of a beheading.  

"Such omissions of the more extreme moments of violence in the film may well have had the intended result of the distributor in strengthening the film's appeal to a broader audience... [but] when cuts are forced on artworks, they change the nature of the film. Scenes which force the audience on the back foot with their extreme nature and which encourage the questioning of the viewer's role in consuming such violence, or are at least integral elements of the storyline, instead become neutered and sanitized. And in doing so censorship may actually let the audience off the hook."
 

The Director's Cut on Blu-ray

In 2014, the uncut version of Wolf Creek 2 was submitted for a Blu-ray classification in Australia with an extensive extras package and was passed with an R 18+ rating on May 1st. This was the version marketed in Australia as a "director's cut", although it was merely the originally intended theatrical version of the film. The modified version of the film was also submitted to the ACB for a home video classification on April 9th, 2014 with an accompanying audio commentary, and the MA 15+ rating was upheld on May 5th.
 


The uncut version of the film is on Region 4 Blu-ray  
 

Australian fans wishing to own the uncut version of Wolf Creek 2 can pick up the Director's Cut Blu-ray from Roadshow Entertainment, which carries an R 18+ rating. The censored MA 15+ version was also released on Blu-ray and on DVD, and both these versions should naturally be avoided. In the United States, the uncut version is available on DVD and Blu-ray as an unrated version from Image Entertainment. Home video versions in the UK also feature the uncut version and carry a BBFC 18 rating for:

"Strong bloody violence, gore, sadistic threat, very strong language ."]

 

Cutting Edge Video, Season Five, Episode 59: Wolf Creek 2


All articles are original works compiled by Gavin Salkeld, with occasional help from a small team of researchers. Particular thanks are due to the BBFC for their diligent and helpful explanations of their interventions.

Gavin has written about film censorship for Melon Farmers since the year 2000. See more on the Cutting Edge Facebook Page.
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