In a hidden corner of The National Archaeological Museum in Naples is the Gabinetto Segreto, the cabinet of secrets, where the more saucy artifacts recovered from Pompeii are stored. Visits are by appointment only. It is sealed by a cast iron gates to prevent unsuspecting visitors wandering into the room. The anticipation of visiting the place was one of the most exciting of my life. There is nothing better than seeing something that you are not supposed to see.
Due to time pressures, we had to attend the session with a french speaking escort, which added an extra frisson to the experience.
Whatever floats your boat. Whatever blows your frock up. Even the most libidinal would struggle to get excited about a fresco of shagging pygmies and novelty-cock-shaped items celebrating the god Priapus.
Even the language of love struggled to make the collected objects titillating. It was less Ann Summers and more rusty old tat.
So much for that. Censors and the cinema have created a similar effect of the Gabinetto: hide something away for long enough and it develops a thrilling appeal, that it doesn’t always deserve.
SEE NO EVIL
1) LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) Wes Craven’s nasty retelling of Bergman’s VIRGIN SPRING (1960) has never been granted a cinema certificate in the UK due to its violence and sadism. It was revived as a VHS until the censors got hold of it again. There was a celebrated court case in 2002 which ultimately led to its release on DVD in 2003.
2) FREAKS (1932) One of Degsy’s choices, Todd Browning’s every day story of side-show people that traumatized test audiences to such as degree that it was cut extensively. It was revived in the midnight movie scene where it developed a cult following and its enduring influence continues.
3) CRASH (1996) Cronenberg walking the tight-rope between the ridiculous and the profound in this interpretation of J.G.Ballard’s novel. James Spader screwing scars was enough to send the Daily Mail into a tail-spin. Not to be confused with Oscar-showered Magnolia-a-like Sandra Bullock 2004 movie, with the same name.
4) AI NO CORRIDA (1976) In the realm of the censors: the only people who are allowed to take the knife to the precious parts.
SEE NO POINT
5) THE CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971) I know its a contentious one, but I have always considered this stylish work, that was moth-balled by its maker, a bit daft. Would EYES WIDE SHUT (1999) benefited from being locked away for twenty years?