If you know you know anything about action film history than you're probably familiar with Robocop's infamous battle with the censors at the MPAA, as director Paul Verhoeven had to cut the film over ten times before Robocop could pass the MPAA standards enough to be given an "R" rating. Well, if you've ever been curious to see what Verheoven's "X-rated" (aka NC-17) version of Robocop looked like, now is the time, because Amazon Prime is currently streaming it.
At the moment, it's unclear if this X-rated version of Robocop is what Amazon intended to offer viewers; there is no clear labeling of the film as being an "Unrated" or "X-Rated" or "Director's" cut of the film. And yet it didn't take long for film fans to notice the difference, and take to Reddit to let the change be known.
If you want to know the differences between the "R-Rated" version of Robocop and the "X-Rated" version, Reddit users and Movie Censorship Report have helped out with that, too. You can read some of the main changes below, or click to the link to MCR to see the side-by-side image comparison:
"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."
Robocop occupies a similarly strange place as Gremlins, in helping to shape the modern film rating system we now know and love. Gremlins' mix of comedy and monster horror strained the limits of "PG" while not going far enough for "R", resulting in "PG-13" being born. Robocop's struggle to fit the limits of "R" ratings in the late '80s basically helped define the limits of what the action genre can or can not get away with. If for no other reason than that, getting to see the original "X-rated" cut of the film isn't just an indulgence: it's a significant piece of cinematic history.
Catch Robocop (the X-Rated version) now streaming on Aamzon Prime.