Kiwis ban Maniac but Australia release planned

25 July, 2013 by Don Groves

Maniac, a horror movie starring Elijah Wood as a serial killer, won’t be released commercially in cinemas or on DVD in New Zealand after being given a festivals-only classification.

The Australasian distributor Monster Pictures is disappointed by the Kiwi Office of Film and Literature Classification ruling but is confident the film will be cleared for cinema and DVD release in Australia.


“We don’t anticipate any problems here,” said Monster’s Neil Foley, who is about to submit the film to the Australian Classification Board.

Last year the board granted the film an exemption enabling it to screen to audiences aged 18+ at the Melbourne International Film Festival, Monster Fest and the Cockatoo Island Film Festival.

Maniac is the first film to get a festival-only classification in New Zealand since The Bridge, Eric Steel's documentary which showed people jumping to their deaths from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, in 2007.

A remake of William Lustig's 1980 Maniac, the film features Wood as a modern-day Jack the Ripper in Los Angeles. In NZ it was classified as objectionable “except if the availability of the publication is limited for the purpose of study in a tertiary media or film studies courier or screened as part of a film festival."

It’s scheduled to screen at the New Zealand International Film Festival in Auckland on July 27 and in Wellington next month.

Monster acquired the Australasian rights after the film premiered in the 2012 Cannes Film Festival Midnight Screenings sidebar. Said Foley, “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. “

Foley is planning a limited number of event screenings in Australia in September, perhaps encouraging cinemagoers to roll up dressed as their favourite horror film characters, ahead of the DVD release in October tying in with Halloween.

Next month Monster is launching on DVD 10 Metres, a thriller co-directed by Rory Noke and Tim Smith, about a university student who has a bomb strapped to his body by a vengeful classmate; it won the Screen Producers Association of Australia’s DigiSPAA feature film competition in 2011.