Disturbing banned horror movie starring Hollywood icon finally available to watch in UK

Disturbing banned horror movie starring Hollywood icon finally available to watch in UK

Possession is now available to stream, decades after it was originally banned in the UK (Picture: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock)

A disturbing horror film starring Sam Neill that caused shockwaves of panic in the 80s is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Released in 1981, Possession, directed by Andrzej Żuławski, quickly gained notoriety for horrifying viewers to the point of extreme reactions, ranging from audience members running out of the cinema to breaking down in tears.

It’s so disturbing that it was ultimately banned in the UK and heavily edited in the US, meaning very few people have seen the original version.

Now, modern viewers have the chance to stream the film – if they dare.

Starring Jurassic Park’s Neill and Isabelle Adjani as a troubled married couple, Possession follows the unravelling of their relationship after Neill’s character returns from a top-secret mission to find his wife seeking a divorce without explanation.

A harrowing journey into each partner’s psyche follows, culminating in a shocking revelation of Adjani’s character’s true obsession.

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Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in 1981, Possession faced significant backlash due to its graphic content.

But the film is considered a horror masterpiece by many – Adjani was awarded best actress at Cannes and the film was nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or award despite the controversy.

An infamous sequence in the film depicts Adjani walking down a tunnel (we won’t give away much more than that) and a BBC film critic at the time called it ‘the most bizarrely mesmerising sequence in modern cinema.’

Despite positive reviews, the film was branded a ‘video nasty’ in the UK and faced staunch opposition from the press and religious groups, resulting in a complete ban. Only heavily censored versions were permitted in the US, with significant portions of the film removed.

The film is a gripping and disturbing look at an unravelling marriage (Picture: Ella Millward)

The ban only intensified interest in certain circles, with many diehard horror fans going to extreme lengths to find copies of the uncut film.

After years of prohibition, the 118-minute director’s cut was finally approved by the British Board of Film Classification in 1999, and now it’s available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

However, viewers are being warned about the film’s intense and disturbing content by those who have seen it, even as fans of the movie celebrate its availability.

Isabelle Adjani won best actress at Cannes for her performance in Possession (Picture: Everett/REX/Shutterstock)

Neill went into depth about the process of making the film in his memoir Did I Ever Tell You This?

The actor wrote that director Andrzej Żuławski was a ‘handsome, charismatic, and wild filmmaker’ who would be condemned by modern standards.

Much of the imagery in the film was considered too graphic for audiences in the 80s (Picture: Metrograph Pictures)

‘I didn’t like him much; what he saw as direction often was just downright bullying. But he had vision, he was a true cineaste. And they are rare,’ Neill wrote.

‘Żuławski asked more of you than you could possibly give. There were times when he would scream, bellow at [co-star Isabelle Adjani] right in her face. It was distressing to see.’

Despite the problematic filming process, Neill is proud of the notorious film.

Director Andrzej Zulawski was difficult to work with, according to Sam Neill (Picture: Getty Images)

He explained: ‘This is by no means a universal view. Not many people have ever seen it and, of those who have, it is true that many loathe it. I myself regard it as a masterpiece, albeit a very flawed masterpiece. I am not alone in that view.’

In light of its contentious history and the intense reactions it elicits from viewers, Possession remains a polarising and haunting piece of cinema that will soon reach a whole new generation.

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