We’ve all heard about movies that have been censored, but are still released for the public to see. There are actually a lot of movies — even ones starring celebrities — that were either banned or hidden away by the creators to the point where no one outside of the cast and crew even knew they existed. Luckily for us, many of these “banned” movies have been leaked and uploaded online, and we can see the stories that were kept secret for years. For better or worse. (Worse. It’s definitely worse.)
10. Disney Said UFOs Were Real In Alien Encounters From New Tomorrowland (1995)
When you think about the type of shows that appear on Disney Channel, you normally expect family-friendly entertainment. But in 1995, they made a 40-minute documentary called Alien Encounters from New Tomorrowland. In the film, they made a very one-sided statement, saying that aliens and UFOs are real and that the government is trying to lie to everyone in order to prevent civilization as we known it from imploding. This documentary aired on the Disney Channel in only five states, for just one night, before they were forced to take it off the air.
This was actually filmed as a promotional video for the Alien Encounter ride in Walt Disney World, but putting it on TV would definitely send kids into a panic that little green men were coming to get them. Even worse, imagine if you were one of the very few kids who actually saw this on TV, and it never showed up again? We imagine that the kids who actually saw it grew up to become fans of Ancient Aliens.
9. Nazis Tried To Change History In Homecoming (1939)
During the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler appointed Joseph Goebbels as his minister of propaganda. One of his jobs was to come up with movies that would manipulate the German people into believing the Nazi cause. Among these propaganda films was Homecoming, which is considered to be dangerous even to this day.
In the movie, Germans living in Poland are treated like second-class citizens. They’re eventually arrested, tortured, and put in cages by the Polish. Of course, they also spend the entire movie talking about how they wish they could go back to the oh-so-wonderful German motherland.
The reality of the situation was that Germany was invading Poland as part of Hitler’s quest for total domination. They were the ones imprisoning and torturing people, not the other way around. They killed innocent civilians, and built concentration camps like Auschwitz. But most German civilians didn’t know about the atrocities of the Holocaust back in the 1930s, and the Nazis needed to justify invading their neighbors. If they had succeeded, people would still believe in this fictional version of history.
Today, most adults who see the movie know straight away that the events of Homecoming are totally false, but it is still banned in Germany. They’re afraid young children and teenagers might see the movie and believe it actually happened.
8. George Lucas Wanted To Destroy All Copies Of The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
A year after Star Wars was released in theaters, George Lucas wanted to continue selling Star Wars merchandise and keep the characters relevant in the minds of children. It wasn’t uncommon for kid’s shows to have a Christmas special, so Lucas decided to make one, too.
Of course, it wouldn’t make sense to have Star Wars characters celebrating holidays that only exist on Earth. So in the movie, Chewbacca needs to get back to his home planet to celebrate a wookiee holiday called Life Day. The cast knew this was a terrible idea (and boy oh boy, was it ever), but they were still young actors who needed a paycheck. So they were basically forced to go along with it.
In the end, the movie was so awful Lucas didn’t want the story to become canon in the Star Wars universe. He decided to ban LucasFilm from distributing it. Lucas once said, “If I had time and a hammer, I’d track down every bootleg copy of the holiday special, and smash it!” But, of course, the Internet helped it survive, and it’s sometimes still screened at fan conventions.
7. Johnny Depp Almost Ruined His Career with The Brave (1997)
In the 1990s, two first-time filmmakers were attempting to make a movie called The Brave, and they were successfully working together with Touchtone Pictures. They abruptly had to cancel the project because one of the producers murdered his wife and daughter. Um… yeah, that’ll do it. It would seem that the movie was cursed, but that didn’t stop them from reaching out to Johnny Depp to see if he would be interested in helping them save the project.
Once he read the script, Depp was totally captivated. The script was about a young Native American man who agreed to let himself die in a snuff film in exchange for helping his family pay off a debt of $50,000. Depp was so taken by the story that he desperately wanted to play the lead character. The only issue was that they needed the money to make it, and no one was interested in getting involved after the previous producer murdered his family.
Depp decided to put up $2 million out of his own pocket, which covered a huge chunk of the budget. Since he put in so much of his own money, he convinced the filmmakers to let him star, direct, and even rewrite the original script.
It was released at the Cannes Film Festival to scathing reviews. Once critics saw how terrible it was, American film distributors weren’t willing to pay for it. When he realized just how much everyone hated the movie, Depp asked the studio to never release it because he was afraid it would ruin his career. During an interview about the movie, Depp said, “This was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It just about ripped me to shreds.”
If you’re curious about just how bad The Brave could possibly be, you won’t be able to find this one very easily. Aside from the trailer and a few select clips on YouTube, attempts to upload the movie are taken down right away. The DVD was eventually released in France.
6. Häxan (1922) Was Too Scary For Audiences To Handle
A silent horror movie called Häxan, or “Witch” in English, was a Swedish documentary directed by Benjamin Christensen about witchcraft throughout history. They were trying to educate people about the superstitions of demons and witchcraft that have existed since the earliest civilizations. In the film, actors recreate scenes of the stories told about witches, like women who sell their soul to the devil, torture people, and commit child sacrifice.
During the Victorian Era and even into the 1920s, there were plenty of people who believed in mysticism and dabbled in the occult. So for audiences watching the movie, it still felt far too real. People began to protest, claiming that the movie was truly demonic. It was even banned in the US until the year 2001. Now, it’s available to watch online.
5. The Fantastic Four (1994) Was Terrible On Purpose
Long before Marvel characters were appearing in some of the biggest box office hits of all-time, Stan Lee wrote The Fantastic Four. He sold the movie rights to a German producer named Bernd Eichinger., whose studio was behind The Neverending Story in 1984 and would go on to produce Resident Evil. When his licensing rights were about to expire, the only way to hang onto the Marvel characters would be to, at a minimum, make a movie. Any movie. Eichinger decided to director Roger Corman to throw together a movie as quickly and cheaply as possible.
They began the process of creating an extremely low-budget version of The Fantastic Four. The cast and crew were told that it would only be screened for the public at a comic book convention and a movie theater in a mall. Watching the film, you can tell that the actors had a lot of fun making it, and were very happy to become Marvel superheroes.
As the premiere date was approaching, the actors realized that the studio wasn’t marketing or advertising the film at all, and they were worried that no one would actually show up to see it. They hired a publicist out of their own pockets to try to advertise the movie. The premiere date came and went, and Eichinger claimed that he ran into legal issues.
In a 2005, Stan Lee said that the movie was never intended to be released at all, and that the cast and crew were duped into thinking it was real. The public didn’t get to see it until years later. Now, it’s only shown at comic book conventions and on YouTube.
4. Bill Murray Took a Bus To The Moon in Nothing Lasts Forever. (1984)
Lorne Michaels is the producer and creator of Saturday Night Live, and works with some of the best comedic talent on the planet. In 1984, he wanted to fund a script written by SNL writer Tom Schiller. Together with MGM, they created a sci-fi comedy film called Nothing Lasts Forever, in which New York City gets taken over by the Port Authority. Dan Aykroyd plays a man who controls who goes in and out of the city through the Holland Tunnel. Murray plays a flight attendant on a bus to the moon, and hilarious hijinks ensue.
Just about the entire cast were established comedians who had appeared on SNL. You would think that this would have been a box office hit, but the movie was never released in theaters or on home video because of legal issues with MGM. After years of never seeing the light of day, Turner Classic Movies bought the rights to air the film on TV, but even so, few people know that it exists.
3. Unlawful Killing (2011) Was A Lawsuit Waiting to Happen
This documentary, directed by Keith Allen, was filled with conspiracy theories accusing the royal family of conspiring to kill Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed. Before her death, Diana left a note with her butler claiming that she knew her husband was going to have her killed in a car accident. She also called Dodi’s father, Mohammad Al Fayed, and told him the same.
After she was actually killed, many people didn’t believe it was an accident. Al Fayed wanted justice for his son, so he paid for Allen to make a documentary uncovering the truth. Allen sent an undercover reporter to sit through the inquest proceedings. The reporter took meticulous notes about what went on every day of the trial, and they used actors to re-create it. They claimed that since the trial happened in the Royal Court of Justice, the loyalty was to the crown, which made the trial totally biased toward protecting the royal family.
The movie was shown at the Cannes Film Festival before the final cut was finished. Immediately after showing the film in France, Allen began receiving legal notices from lawyers to cut out information from the movie. In total, there were 87 complaints, and the movie never reached theaters.
2. Return of the Ewok (1982)
Return of the Ewok was a mockumentary starring 11-year-old Warwick Davis. The film was a blend of fantasy and reality, pretending to be a behind-the-scenes look at how Davis scored the role of the Ewok named Wicket during the making of Return of the Jedi.
The cast and crew spent a lot of time making this film, only for George Lucas to back out on releasing it at the very last minute. Maybe he was afraid of it becoming a flop, like the Star Wars Holiday Special. However, the cast was actually really looking forward to seeing Return of the Ewok, and everyone was genuinely disappointed, especially young Warwick Davis. The director, David Tomblin, wasn’t afraid to express his frustration with Lucas, saying, “Everyone contributed their time and talent for absolutely nothing.” Even though it took years, Star Wars fans can finally watch it online.
1. Conspiracy of Silence (1994)
This documentary, paid for by the Discovery Channel, detailed the supposed — you guessed it — conspiracy about powerful people who have engaged in sex orgies with children. The film accuses a ring of Washington DC politicians of being involved in a child sex trafficking, flying kids to the nation’s capital often to “service” guests of the White House. According to the documentary, an Omaha executive named Larry King was involved, and quite possibly the ringleader of this group of pedophiles.
Discovery Channel ultimately decided not to air the movie, but they’ve never made an official statement explaining why. One can only guess that they could have feared a potential lawsuit. Despite the film being suppressed for years, it made its way onto YouTube.