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Why Was 100 Tears Rated NC-17?

Numerous movies find themselves in battles with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) over NC-17 ratings. "Clerks" was hit with an NC-17 at first, simply due to language. "American Pie" had to snip some moments from their famous pie scene to drop to an R rating (per Entertainment Weekly). On the other hand, there are filmmakers every now and then though who decide to wear their NC-17 ratings loud and proud. "Showgirls," the film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Joe Eszterhas, hit theaters in 1995 with an NC-17 rating — something that was box office poison at the time, but this has since become just one of the aspects that's helped it turn into a cult classic (via Decider). 

A film to follow in those footsteps was 2007's "100 Tears," centering on a pair of tabloid journalists hunting a killer clown who soon find themselves as the hunted. It's rated NC-17, which didn't hurt its success, as the film built its own following. As one positive Fangoria review reads, "'100 Tears' packs enough thrills to paint a smile on the face of anyone who appreciates good, grisly grassroots horror fare." The film also won Best Actress (Georgia Chris), Best Supporting Actress (Raine Brown), and Best Make-Up Effects (Marcus Koch) at the Tabloid Witch Awards. The accolades appear even more impressive after you realize the flick was thrown together for under $100,000 (per Dead Harvey). 

So, what exactly was it that earned this micro-budgeted, cult horror film an NC-17 rating?

100 Tears is rated NC-17 for extreme horror violence

"100 Tears" was slapped with an NC-17 rating for extreme horror violence, and it's not hard to understand what that means once you watch the movie. Less than 20 minutes in, a man's head has been split in half by a giant axe, wielded by Gurdy the Clown (Jack Amos). The camera captures it all in a closeup shot. 

Director Marcus Koch revealed in the aforementioned 2009 interview with the Dead Harvey blog that the intensity of the kills was a way to keep his killer clown actually scary and avoid any humor that may come for some in seeing a serial killer clown. This is also why he kept Gurdy dialogue-free through the film. As he explained, "I absolutely didn't want a killer clown to spit out silly, witty one liners or do anything clown-like, like kill someone with balloon animals or a deadly pie to the face. I thought it would be good to have a silent killer, I think it's always been a good idea. Imagine how bad it would be if Jason or [Michael] Myers spoke?" the director said.

The NC-17 rating for "100 Tears" does put it in a class with some fairly legendary pictures,1981's "The Evil Dead," which kicked off one of the biggest horror franchises of all-time.