Hellboy's Rating Stays R18+ After Classification Review

Image: IMDB

It's not much surprise that a movie with Ian McShane and the sheriff from Stranger Things - who fights Milla Jovovich - is a bit of a gory, violent affair. So when the Classification Board gave Hellboy a R18+ rating, that seemed fairly appropriate.

To presumably get more teenagers through the door, the distributors applied to have the movie re-rated. It makes Hellboy the first piece of content in 2019 to try and get a different classification, and only the 12th decision to be challenged in the past five years.

The Classification Board rated Hellboy R18+ towards the end of March, applying the "high impact violence, blood and gore" consumer advice label. Roadshow Films, according to a release from the censors, challenged the rating three days later, making Hellboy the first piece of content to be reviewed in 2019.

The board originally found that Hellboy's fantasy setting didn't mitigate the need for its high classification, which does come with a genuine cost. Staffers are required by law to check the ID of anyone purchasing tickets for an R18+ film if they appear to be underage, whereas children under the age of 15 can see MA15+ films if accompanied by a parent or guardian.

In the original report, the Board described a scene 98 minutes in describing the level of violence to be expected. There's a sort-of spoiler following this, but if you'd rather keep everything secret before the film's launch, look away.

Image: IMDB

"After Hellboy claims Excalibur, a fissure forms in the ground, allowing giant, grotesque demons to rise from Hell and enter the human world," the report from the original ruling, which was provided to Kotaku Australia, reads.

A large demon with an oversized sword-arm is viewed climbing out of the fissure. The demon grabs a man and smashes him against the top of its sword-arm, causing blood to spurt from the man's body. The demon pulls the man's body downwards and away from its sword-arm, eliciting a generous blood spurt as the man is implicitly skinned. The skinned body is flung into the air and sliced in half by the demon's sword-arm, causing blood to spray and form a cloud as gore flies through the air. Another demon wraps a clawed hand around a man's head. In a close-up shot, the demon pulls its hand away, stripping the skin from the man's head; the bloody, raw flesh of the man's skinned face and head is viewed as he falls away from the demon.

Naturally, distributors will want their films to be MA15+ rather than R18 whenever possible.

But while reviews helped turn We Happy Few's ban into a rating that allowed it to be sold in Australia, the Review Board effectively honoured the original decision. "In the Classification Review Board’s opinion Hellboy warrants an R 18+ classification because the violence has a high impact," the Review Board, whose decision overrides the original ruling, said in a release.

"The overall impact of the classifiable elements in the film was high. It is the view of the Classification Review Board that the fantasy context does not mitigate the cumulative impact of the violence on a more vulnerable audience."

The report from the Review Board (separate from the rating handed out from the Classification Board) will be published on the Classification Board's website later today. Hellboy hits local theatres from April 11.


    Did they just appeal the rating or actually submit an edited cut of the film to try and get it down to an MA? I hope they bite the bullet and just put it out as an R rather than give us a censored version. Although it's probably getting a bit late to do that if the movie is due out in 3 days.

      They'll likely just go with what they've submitted. Australia's not a detrimental market to them at this point. China however would be given most movies make up to a half their income now there alone.

    And yet Deadpool 1 & 2 and Logan all of which are apparent "R" rated movies are all MA15+

      You might have heard them referred to as 'R Rated movies' but usually that's in an American context. The American R is closer to our MA15+. In the USA, their country of origin, I believe those movies are R. R in the USA is similar to Aussie MA15+ in that teens can go to these films accompanied by a guardian.

      The Australian R is closer to the American NC-17 which is actually restrictive and means that those 17 and under can't actually go to the movie or buy it. Australian R means that those 18 and under can't see/buy a movie.

      Usually American NC17 and Australian R get given to the same movies, but American ratings are more lenient on violence than Australian ratings, so it's not an exact match between the two rating systems.

      Deadpool being a comedy might have had an effect on the rating.

      Though I still remember years ago, browsing the movie section of the PSN store, and finding one of those "American Pie" esque comedies, and the Theatrical version had an "R" rating while the "Unrated" version was only "MA".

    Was I interested? I mean, I was before I read this, more or less...

    Am I interested now??


    I'm 100% positive that a R18+ Hellboy movie will only make it more enticing for teenagers to watch.

    I remember being an early teen and we all were about getting Predator/Total Recall/Terminator movies to watch because they were the R18+ forbidden fruit.

      Good :) I watched plenty of them growing up. So did most of us, indeed it's that 'forbidden fruit' aspect. Hopefully they enjoy the hell out of it :D

      Oh god, I think I remember seeing old tapes of The Terminator with an R rating.

      As a side note, for all the shit that Australia gets for being censor-happy, we actually have one of the more lenient systems. Many countries have multiple "No one under [x] age PERIOD" ratings, while we only have that for our R rating.

    Wasn't interested before, but my brother said the trailer looked good & now I hear it's R18+. Count me in!

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