Dead Hooker in a Trunk is Censored

An independent theater house in the Canadian Prairies has made a rash decision to stop the Canadian Premier screening of Jen and Sylvia Soska’s independent feature Dead Hooker in a Trunk, a film that has already been screened in a number of other film festivals gaining critical acclaim and awards. An anonymous complaint call said that the title of the film is offensive and so the Roxy Theater chose not to screen the film – even after they approved its screening as part of a double bill event.

This is a message that needs to be sent to this theater house that is the centerpoint of the Dark Bridges Film Festival which is the baby of Row Three’s John Allison.

The film was due to be screened in their home country Canada on April 22nd at the Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon. However after an anonymous caller phoned the theatre complaining about the name of the film, claiming that she was embarassaed for Saskatoon and couldn’t believe they would show a movie with that title after the recent spate of missing prostitutes in Vancouver, the film was pulled.


Now while I generally feel that petitions are completely useless, this is one of the few ways we can send a message to this quiet cultural center of the Canadian Prairies.

Petitions by Change.org|Start a Petition »

There are plenty of films with offensive titles, and they get wide releases and splash posters all over the malls. And I don’t know how “Dead Hooker in a Trunk” is so offensive to begin with. The title is appropriate to the story but says nothing outwardly offensive. It doesn’t say “Rape a Hooker” or “Who cares about the Dead Hooker in the Trunk” … it simply states that a hooker is in the trunk and she is dead. If the simple title alone can offend you so deeply, then simply do not see the film. Since when is it your right to decide for others what they must also think of this movie??

The deeper irony is that despite this film revolving around the titular Dead Hooker, the story itself is as graphic and violent as very popular torture porn franchises like Saw and Hostel, but the film’s description says that the mission of those involved are to bring resolution and peace to this situation. Bet these blind censors didn’t consider that when tearing down the posters advertising its release (which were legally posted in public designated areas). They didn’t consider that this film, despite its horror themes might actually have a positive resolution?

No. Blind ignorance and hate caused them to commit acts of vandalism and lash out against this film, and WORSE… the theater that prides itself on delivering independent film has now bowed to the wills of the ignorant and enabling this blind censorship. They pulled the movie from an already advertised and promoted Double Bill event.

If the movie was universally offensive, then judge the film. Thats what the motion picture rating system is for. That’s what reviews, blogs and journalists are for. You can choose for yourself if you want to see the movie. You can choose for yourself what you thought of the movie. Choosing for someone else is just ignorant and is nothing short of censorship.

I won’t always agree with your choices and films you choose to watch, but I will fight for your right to choose to watch them.

Comment with Facebook
Sending
User Review
0 (0 votes)

12 thoughts on “Dead Hooker in a Trunk is Censored

  1. While I actually agree with you about the right to watch films, Rodney, as a Canadian I feel the need to play the devil’s advocate and clarify the statement about “the recent spate of missing prostitutes in Vancouver,” which none of the comments have yet focused on.

    I’m presuming most people have heard of Robert Pickton, but if not, he (allegedly, since he was only officially convicted for a handful) kidnapped and murdered several prostitutes over the span of almost thirty years before he was caught. It brought a lot of issues about the vulnerability of certain populations to light, and the effect of his crimes have become pretty culturally ingrained. Her complaint probably would have remained even if she did know what the movie was about, since the issue is more with the insensitivity of the title. There’s no way that a Canadian movie about a dead hooker isn’t somehow giving a nod to the cultural impact of Pickton, no matter irrelevant the plot is to the reality. His actions ruined a lot of lives, and not just the ones of the people he killed. Joking about that on any level would be, to some people, incredibly insensitive. Just to give a little insight into the perspective of the complaintant(s).

    1. I am well aware of Pickton, and how people are attaching that real world news story with this title.

      I just don’t see any reason to get all upset over a title. The movie does not glorify Picton, or killing hookers.

      There are hundreds of films that deal with tragic and horrible choices of the human condition, and these over the top violent films are hardly new.

      Attaching this title to Pickton’s actions is just weak rationalization to create an extra layer of offense where there is none. You can find the title offensive if you want, and you can choose whether you see the film if you want. But choosing for others is censoring. Trying to link this to Pickton’s actions isn’t justification, it is squirming.

      Yes, the title suggests violence. But no more violence than a trailer for a Saw or Hostel movie illustrates in its televised and graphic posters. If Pickton was killing school teachers what excuse would people have to find this title insensitive?

      1. Like I said, I agree with you about the right to watch films. And you’re right, some people take way too personal offence when certain things aren’t dealt with in what they would consider a sensitive matter. Maybe it’s because I’m from a younger generation, but I think that desensitization (and I’m using that term with a slightly different connotation than usual) leads to a broader awareness; it isn’t always a bad thing. Such as seeing or hearing about this film and wanting to see it because it seems so ridiculous; interacting rather than reacting, I guess. I was just pointing out what I think the thought process of the complaints is, for anybody who may not be aware.

  2. HI John

    For the record, since you asked what we might think about the whole issue of your ‘message on a poster’… I object to censorship, but I object more strongly to hate. “Kill women” on a poster is not the same at all as “kill bill” as you put it, incredibly naively. If the poster said “Kill Jews” is that the same for you as ‘Kill bill’ too?

    “Kill women” is harmful, is hate mongering and is a violation of those of use who identify as women. Too bad you feel obliged to defend some idiotic misogynist bigot on a keypad that thought he was clever by adding “kill women’ to the poster — rather than recognizing when advertising goes too far….
    It makes me wonder if you have women in your life that you care much about; a daughter you care to protect? Any woman in your life that has been senselessly violated, maimed or killed in an act of gender-based violence. … For a moment, think about those of us who have other experiences, if you possibly can.

    1. You lose credibility in your argument when you make presumptuous attacks on his character.

      The title is not encouraging violence. It is a statement. There is a dead hooker in the trunk. It doesn’t stat or encourage killing hookers or even women. In fact the movie is all about finding resolution and peace to the situation that leads to that statement.

      You can have your opinion but you will not insult other commenters because you disagree.

  3. Just a heads up that we found another theatre (The Broadway Theatre) in Saskatoon and they willing to rent the venue to us so that we can screen DHIAT and also THE TAINT. Since all this happened Magic Lantern Theatres has also pulled Hobo With a Shotgun from their their theatre which is totally their right to as they were the one’s that actually programmed it. When I asked complained about it the Management of the Chain said that it didn’t do well enough when it ran at the other theatre so they didn’t want to take the financial risk. I believe they just caved into more pressure personally but I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know all the facts behind the Hobo cancellation.

  4. Okay maybe it was the music but I almost started laughing while watching that trailer. But as the complaining I respect someone voicing their opinion however I really get the feeling that if this were called “Dead Body In the Trunk” no one would be complaining. As Rodney says this ad has nothing that we haven’t seen in Hostel or Saw already so I highly doubt its the actual content that’s the issue.

  5. I should also say that this was a business decision made by the head of theatre chain. It is his company and business and I while I feel that it is not the appropriate action to take it is his choice as the venue is a private venue. I am also all for the people who complained to do so. It is their right to be offended and to complain. Now, as for the people who actively went around and ripped down our posters I have a serious problem with them. They do not have the right to censorship.

  6. There was actually more than one complaint. Complaints were lodged with the theatre and then with the overall chain of theatres. We (Dark Bridges) also received numerous emails complaining about the poster which used the original poster for THE TAINT. As the director of the festival I will never program a movie that does promote violence but I also wish to be able to program interesting provocative films and to market them using the official posters created by the film makers.

    I would much rather offend someone with the poster than to portray these movies as something which they are not. They are grindhouse type movies and they do push buttons.

  7. Soooo let me get this straight…. After ONE *ANONYMOUS* phone call complaining that the *title*, not even the movie itself, just the TITLE, is offensive, they decide to just pull the movie? After already approving it to play and advertising it?

    Hell, maybe if we just shoot an anonymous phone complaint whenever Uwe Boll releases a movie they’ll censor those too.

    1. unfortunally that would never work i would love it if it did and i would totally do it myself…..but no the only time that would work would be in this case were one person decides to ruin it for everyone els.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *