A Dutch horror film billed as ''the most depraved film of the century'' and banned from Australian cinemas will be allowed back on screens this week after the distributors cut just 30 seconds from it.
And Canberrans will be the first to see the amended version when it screens at the National Film and Sound Archive's ARC Cinema on Friday night, as originally scheduled.
Human Centipede II, the sequel to the cult hit Human Centipede I, debuted at the Brisbane International Film Festival in early November, and was touring capital cities around the country when it was abruptly pulled from cinemas on November 28, after complaints from Christian lobby groups.
The film follows a mentally disturbed man who becomes so obsessed with the original story that he sets out to re-enact the plot using 12 people sewn together, mouth-to-anus, to form a single digestive tract.
Originally given an R18+ rating, the film was withdrawn by the Classification Review Board.
The Australian distributor, Monster Pictures, had to submit a cut version for reclassification - to the same body that had originally allowed it.
The new version - half a minute shorter, but carefully modified to ''keep the integrity'' of the original - was accepted for distribution late yesterday.
Monster Pictures manager Neil Foley said while he was delighted with the decision, it highlighted the problems of the film classification system in Australia.
He said the distributors had been faced with an ''absurd situation'' whereby they were told they had to recut the film, but were not given specifics of the complaints made against it.
He said the film had received its original classification in the spirit of what extreme horror movies are about and who they're aimed at.
''The Australian Government Classification Board are doing this every day of the week and they're very versed in film in general, as far as the time and place. They understand the context of the genre, they understand the genre and they see something like Human Centipede and they know where it fits in,'' he said. ''They can see that there's probably nothing in this film that makes it obscene.''
He pointed out that it was the marketing of the film, rather than the film itself, that had offended certain groups, including Family Voice Australia, which then went on to argue that the film had already been banned in England.