Politicians press for tougher regime

LONDON — The British Board of Film Classification has banned the DVD release of Nick Palumbo’s psychopathic sexual serial killer pic “Murder Set Pieces.”

Decision to outlaw the DVD, within the terms of the U.K.’s Video Recordings Act, was taken by David Cooke, BBFC director, and a team comprising Quentin Thomas, John Taylor and Janet Lewis-Jones.

The ruling comes a day after Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressed his concerns in Parliament over the potentially destructive social impact of violent films and vidgames. Recently, a cross-party group of politicians has been pushing for reform on violent and sexual material. If successful, the campaign could see the BBFC forced to toughen its stance.

“Rejecting a work outright is a serious matter and the board considered whether the issue could be dealt with through cuts,” commented Cooke. “However, given the unacceptable content featured throughout, and that what remains is essentially preparatory and set-up material for the unacceptable scenes, cutting the work is not a viable option in this case and the work is therefore refused a classification.”

A press release summarizing the ruling outlined the chief concerns: “ ‘Murder Set Pieces’ is a feature with a single-minded focus on the activities of a psychopathic sexual serial killer, who, throughout the film, is seen raping, torturing and murdering his victims. Young children are among those terrorized and killed, and their inclusion in this abusive context is an added concern. In relation to the adult victims, there is a clear focus on sex or sexual behavior accompanied by non-consensual pain, injury and humiliation.”

The BBFC rarely flat-out rejects applications for DVD release. The last DVD to fail at the fence was pornographic title “Struggle in Bondage,” (which features naked women tied-up, gagged and crying near throughout) in 2006.

Philadelphia-based DVD distrib TLA Releasing has the right to appeal the BBFC decision. But an overturning of the decision is unlikely given the BBFC suggests the pic “also raises potential legal questions, for instance in relation to the Protection of Children Act 1978, as well as possible breaches of other legislation such as that on obscenity. Having concluded that the work would in any case have to be rejected on grounds of harm and unacceptability to the public, the board did not think it necessary at this stage to reach a final view on these legal issues, but they would have to be considered in the event of any appeal.”

To stem the flow of copies may be difficult though: five copies of “Murder Set Pieces” from U.K. sellers were on sale on eBay.co.uk at time of press.

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