The slasher film "Maniac" has been banned from general release by the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification, complaining that its graphic violence was too over the top.
New Zealand's film office made the decision Wednesday, saying that "Maniac" can be shown at film festivals but not for general screening, according to the Hollywood Reporter
. The ruling also bans the movie's DVD sales.
It marks a big change in reception for "Maniac" lead actor Elijah Wood, who helped put the New Zealand movie industry on the map with his role in the "Lord of Ring" trilogy. But instead of playing a warm and fuzzy Hobbit, Wood is playing a serial killer with a fetish for scalps, according to RottenTomatoes.com
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"Frank (Elijah Wood) is the withdrawn owner of a mannequin store, but his life changes when young artist Anna (Nora Arnezeder) appears asking for his help with her new exhibition," a RottenTomatoes.com review stated. "As their friendship develops and Frank's obsession escalates, it becomes clear that she has unleashed a long-repressed compulsion to stalk and kill."
"The POV nature of the film mixed with the psychopathic behavior of actor Elijah Wood is more than disturbing," said Ant Timpson said in a statement explaining the Office of Film and Literature Classification ruling, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "It’s potentially dangerous in the hands of the wrong person – that is, a non-festival-goer."
"Maniac" is a remake of a 1980 cult classic by William Lustig. It opened in the U.S. last month courtesy of Independent Film Channel Midnight and had its world premiere at Cannes in 2012. Fans attending the New Zealand International Film Festival will get to see it when the festival opens July 26-Aug. 11.
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The Hollywood Reporter said the last film to get New Zealand’s festival-only rating was "The Bridge," a 2007 documentary about suicide based in San Francisco.
Neil Foley, the Australian distributor for "Maniac," bristled at the New Zealand's decision on his Monster Pictures website.
"Banning the film beyond festival screenings is an insult to the intelligence of the adult population of New Zealand and does little more than to serve as an open invitation to illegally pirate the film," posted Foley.
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