Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Canadians Censor Chain Saw Massacre

From The Ottawa Citizen, Feb. 12, 1976

Morbid 'Massacre' Pulled Off Screen

Sarah Henry, Citizen Staff Writer

There will be a brief intermission before the shrieking resumes.

Following visits to both the Rideau Theatre and Britannia Drive-in by morality detectives, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, a low-budget screamer which shows every intention of becoming an underground classic of the macabre, has gone to join Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS in the city's celluloid graveyard.

But it is the great dorsal-finned one who will save the day for horror buffs -- Jaws starts Friday at the Rideau.

Drive-in patrons this weekend will be treated to the sexual antics of Fritz the Cat.

Rideau Theatre manager Sven Petersen said today Ottawa morality detectives came to the theatre Tuesday evening and advised charges would be laid unless the film was withdrawn immediately. Nepean police gave the same advise to the manager of the Britannia Drive-in Wednesday evening.

One year ago this month, Ilsa, an x-rated film which depicted gang rapes and torture, was withdrawn from the Rideau Theatre for the same reason.

Mr. Petersen estimates that in the 12 days Massacre was shown, 3,000 people saw the movie at his theatre.

Had the morality division not acted, the film, which was teamed up with Vice Squad Women, would have died a natural death Friday, when the new program began.

In the interim, the somewhat tamer double bill Up the Down Staircase and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is being shown.

Ottawa police morality inspector George Zhukow said the department acted on legal advice before recommending withdrawal. "We warned them if they continued showing it they might be charged."

Section 1592 of the Criminal Code forbids the undue exploitation of sex, violence and cruelty.

Jack Bernstein, director of programming at Famous Players Ltd., headquarters in Toronto, said he hadn't expected Chainsaw to get the axe for its sustained horror. "This is a surprise to me because we haven't had any problem in playing the movie anywhere in Canada."

The programmer characterized the film as "just a fun thing." He said he has seen it and feels "it's not to be taken seriously."

The "fun" of the movie is 90 minutes of solid nightmarish horror depicting the tale of five teen-agers, one an invalid, who become involved with a gang of crazies with an unusual predilection for human flesh.

Reminiscent of horror classics like Night of the Living Dead and Psycho, it has been hailed by some reviewers for its allegorical content. In the concluding scenes, good triumphs over evil, albeit with a bloodied face and shredded halter top.

There is no overt sexual content in the film and few scenes involving the standard horror flick spurts of blood and gore.

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