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By Excess Hollywood | June 27, 2007

Let me preface this column (blog, whatever) with two things. The movie ratings system should be abolished, and “”Hostel 2″ was a better film than the first one, which I liked. If you agree that the ratings board is a necessary evil (and I don’t, but plenty do), you have to admit that it got it wrong with the R rating for “”Hostel 2.” I’m not the only one who thinks this, either. “”Entertainment Weekly” has a columnist who believes the same thing, though he had different reasons than mine.

“”Hostel 2″ should have been NC-17 based purely on its tone. It wasn’t the “”erotic bloodbath” cited by the previously mentioned columnist that pushed it past the R. It wasn’t the castration scene, either. The “”gore” was pretty standard stuff (though that castration scene was fairly nasty, but not unheard of in an R rated movie). There was a point where the tone of the film shifted, however, and that’s why I thought the simple minds behind the ratings would have given it that dreaded NC-17.

American horror movies consider some things to be fairly taboo. One of those things is killing children. (It seems far more acceptable to do that in a drama as opposed to a horror film.) “”Hostel 2,” for those who haven’t seen it, features a cold-blooded, drawn out execution of a child. During that scene the crowd in the theatre I saw the film in went from fairly quiet to dead still by its end. It made the movie feel slightly unsafe and brutal (things that worked in its favor), and it sent the film into new territory. Why the film got an R can only be explained by the money behind it. With an NC-17 fewer theatres would have shown it, and it would have done even less business at the box office (I suspect it will do far better on DVD). Had this been an independent, it would’ve never made it by with an R.

“”Hostel 2″ is one more reason the ratings board should be abolished. It can’t do its job properly even within its own loose guidelines. If it can’t get this one film right, why should anyone believe it can properly rate any other film? It’s more proof that parents, whom the ratings board was designed for, need to actually read reviews of the films before letting their kids see them. (Better yet, actually watch the film without the children first, then make your decision.) In any case, they shouldn’t trust the ratings board because “”Hostel 2″ shows how wrong it can go. If you can’t trust the board, it isn’t doing its job, and if it’s not doing its job it needs to be fired.

Let’s get rid of these fools and start taking matters into our own hands when it comes to our films. And if you think I’m being extreme, ask yourself this: If the execution of a child in a horror film (which is at the end of a scene that features a line of children having a gun shoved in their faces one by one) doesn’t rate an NC-17 for tone alone, what does?

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  1. Heather says:

    I have to agree with Felix on this one… Hostel and Hostel Part II are nothing more than a sad attempt to shock the audience into believing that they are decent horror movies. While I agree that the MPAA more than often gets things wrong with their ratings, I can only see NC-17 as giving the Hostel movies more credit where credit isn’t due.

  2. Professor Tom says:

    I used to work at a movie theater and if I remeber correctly, the MPAA is NOT the law. In other words, it is not illegal to let someone under the age of 17 into an R-rated movie.


  3. Frank Zito says:

    Should there even be an NC-17 rating? I agree with the MPAA that parents should be with there kids for certain rated movies. That keeps 7 or 8 year olds out of movies like Hostel Part 2. But NC-17 says no matter what, if your under 17 you aren’t allowed in, evn if your 15 or 16 and your parents will take you. Do you realy want these people you don’t even know to say your kids,even if you want them to see it, even if its a work of art(knot saying Hostel 2 is a work of art),can’t see it? Why can’t parents just spend 5 munites on the internet to see what its rated R for? Keep the MPAA, but NC-17 is a little extreme.

  4. Jeremy Knox says:

    To this day, I still don’t understand why NC-17 films can’t be shown in theates. It’s not THAT complicated to do. Not only that but we have an aging population so it would actually be profitable to appeal to older people who might not want their fare G-rated all the time. Movies keep appealing to a smaller and smaller segment of the population.

    Furthermore, it’s not like I don’t understand the fact that most movies are nothing more than viral marketing campaigns for a lifestyle/ideal with various product placements scattered throughout. Of course they are, that’s why it makes sense to aim those at kids and dumbass families with lots of kids. They are, after all, the softest minds to play with.

    However, there’s still money to be made by marketing films as “dangerous” and “bad” and segregating them in their own theatres. It’s like drinking, smoking, driving, hunting and f*****g. It’s something to look forward to when you’re a kid.

  5. Dave Lawler says:

    I love how the producers of “Passion” tried to appeal the R; instead they cut down some of the violence (not all) for use in schools.

    Can you imagine qualifying the unimaginable, nausea-inducing violence of “Passion” for children? Ugh!

  6. Felix Vasquez Jr. says:

    Cold blooded drawn out execution? Come on, Doug. There was no cold blooded drawn out execution, there was a simple shock scene attempting gauge audiences.

    You give waaaaaaay too much credit to Hostel Part II, much like everyone else.

    Hostel Part II should not have been given an NC-17 rating because it simply wasn’t as “edgy” as apologists like to hype it up as. There was nothing here that would warrant an NC-17 to me, but then I don’t work in the MPAA.

    You said we should take matters into our own hands. Care to elaborate?

  7. Professor Tom says:

    Wow! I never would have guessed that there are people who want to abolish the MPAA because they failed to rate a movie high enough. I would have thought those in favor of abolishing the MPAA would have been hippy/anti-authority types. The world is full of wonders.

    And just so we don’t get off on the wrong foot, I totally agree with you. The MPAA doesn’t do it’s job correctly letting to many bad things slide into PG and PG-13 and pushing too many good things into R. Why wasn’t Passion of the Christ NC-17?

    It’s a parenting issue through and through. I mean, look at the ratings: Parental Gudiecne and PG-13 not suitable for children under the age of 13. It’s right there in the ratings: “People who are too stupid to use birth control, you might not want your crumb crunchers to watch this.” How ridiculous!

    Remember the Sin City debacle? Parents were taking/allowing their kids to see Sin City thinking it was just another comic book turned into a movie in the vein of Spiderman and Batman. When the found out how over the top that movie was (again, why didn’t Sin City get an NC-17? Even Rodriguez expected it to get one.) parents were outraged. I heard that one theater somewhere in Texas wouldn’t accept checks or credit cards as payment for Sin City because most of their customers were senior citizens and the theater didn’t want to refund the money knowing they’d have to give every dollar back.

    The funniest angle to the whole clusterfuck? The Monday after the film’s release, Disney’s website read Disney’s Sin City makes 21 million opening weekend. Parents were outraged over this! Some people went so far as to say that the movie was being advertised on Adult Swim as a “stylized cartoon”. Adult Swim?!?!? It’s in the name people!

    Yes, it’s definitely a parenting issue. But can people fault and blame themselves? In the words of Ron White, “Oh f*****g no!” People are sheep and would rather rely on/blame some bureaucratic institution for guidance/failure.

    Am I alone here?

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