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Halloween trailer deemed too ‘violent’ and ‘menacing’ for television

Ad Standards has found Universal Pictures’ trailer for the horror movie Halloween to be too violent and “menacing” for television and a broad audience which would include children.

Complaints to the ad watchdog said the trailer was “frightening”, “deeply distressful”, “shocking”, “confronting” and “scary”.

One complaint said: “Advertising a frightening movie with horror images at an early time. Deeply distressed my 10 year old son. Images included man welding [sic] a knife, people running and awful image of man’s face done up like a zombie. Shocking.”

Defending the trailer, Universal Pictures said it worked with its media agency of record Mediacom to carefully select the TV schedule, and focused on programming which would reach the intended 16 and over audience.

“We apologise for any distress caused and would like to reassure all parties involved that we have adhered to all required standards and the industry code of conduct in relation to the advertising materials and placements for this film,” Universal Pictures said.

Ad Standards said between the two trailers the scenes which depict “an adult opening a child’s closet door to show the killer is a particularly menacing scene for children” and ” the scene showing the killer opening the shower curtain was frightening”.

Upholding the complaint, Ad Standards said the trailer portrayed violence which wasn’t justifiable in the context of the movie.

Since the ruling, Universal Pictures has ceased advertising the trailer and apologies for any distress caused. The movie was released in Australia on 25 October and earned $2.777m in its first weekend at the box office. Its total box office takings so far is around $6.2m.

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