One of my favorite sci-fi action films of the late 80’s is without a doubt Robocop. The film premiered in theaters on July 17th, 1987 was directed by Paul Verhoeven and starred Peter Weller, Nancy Allen and Kurtwood Smith. But Robocop along with it’s director had another fight that was not with OCP (Omni Consumer Products) but with the censors at the MPAA.
Before the film could be shown in theaters, Verhoeven had to cut the film over ten times before it could pass the MPAA standards to be given an “R” rating. Without making these changes the film was stuck with an NC-17 or X-rated. Why is this relevant now?
Well if your curious to see what Verhoeven’s film looked like before he had to make the cuts, Amazon Prime is currently streaming it. Although it is unclear whether or not this is what Amazon Prime had intended to show as it does not have any clear labeling to distinguish this version, but it did not take fans very long to notice the differences.
Thanks to the Movie Censorship Report via comicbook.com we have some idea of some of the reasons why the MPAA had a hard time getting the film to an “R” rating. You can click on their link also and check out the side by side photos of some of the scenes.
“The MPAA especially did not approve of the gory presentation of the prototype ED-209 and Murphys execution. the bloodiest shots were cut out of the first scene and a lot of alternative footage was used in the other – only the DC shows Murphy loosing an arm in the gunfire. On top of that, alternative footage has been used for the car chase at the beginning as well as in the finale.
The censorship of the ED-209 scene torpedoes Verhoevens initial intention. The scene was deliberately planned as comically exaggerated to get some laughs out of the audience with the “Somebody want to call a paramedic?” line – the dark humor is watered down in the edited version, as Verhoeven criticizes himself in the audio commentary. During Murphys execution an interesting dolly camera pan was cut along with the gory head shot where an elaborate Peter Weller dummy designed by SFX expert Rob Bottin had been used.”
One of the interesting things about this situation is that Robocop’s struggle to reach the “R” rating, helped the industry define the limits of what the action genre could get away with. Will you be watching the X-rated version of Robocop? Let us know in the comment section below!
The X-Rated Robocop is available for streaming on Amazon Prime. (Disclaimer: It will cost you more than a dollar)