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As we enter an almost completely new age of media consumption, it's fascinating to watch cult objects that were once coveted by the devoted unceremoniously slip out into the streaming ether, waiting for folks to just stumble upon them. Due to boutique labels like Arrow Video and Vinegar Syndrome having deals with services such as Amazon Prime, Hulu or (on the more curated end) Shudder, all the sudden it's easy to watch something like Cannibal Holocaust or Body Melt, two titles this writer had to hunt down on bootleg VHS for first time viewings.
Now, one of the Criterion Collection's more notorious releases has wormed its way into your algorithm, as the original X-Rated cut of RoboCop is available on Prime. That's right, now you can beam all 200 blood squibs that Paul Verhoeven detonated on that poor OCP suit's body right into the comfort of your own living room (should you subscribe to that service).
For those not 100% sure what I'm babbling on about, when Orion Pictures originally submitted RoboCop to the MPAA, it was slapped with the dreaded 'X', due to the extreme violence and gore the picture contained. Verhoeven recut and re-submitted the movie eleven times before finally getting an 'R', not only trimming his movie, but also inserting more of the satirical commercial content (which beefed up the movie's black humor) in order to lighten RoboCop's tone somewhat. The main differences between the 'R' and 'X' rated cuts are:
1) During the boardroom meeting, ED-209 begins to shoot Kinney who falls back on a table. Additional shots are then shown of him being shot at continuously in rapid succession. There is also an additional, quick shot of ED-209's programmer unsuccessfully trying to shut it down by ripping out its power cord.
2) Murphy's death scene is the most altered scene in the movie. Additional shots include when his hand is shot off, Murphy gets up and a visible stump is seen where his hand used to be. An additional shot shows his right arm being shot off completely and him screaming in pain. In the theatrical version, this scene is missing and Murphy is merely shown with one arm without any explanation. The final seconds of his murder shows an additional shot of the camera spinning around Murphy as he withers in pain and Clarence shoots him in the head and a hole appears. This original shot was achieved using a sophisticated animatronic puppet of Peter Weller controlled off-screen. One final overhead shot also shows the bloody aftermath of what has happened to Murphy as Lewis looks on shocked at his dead body.
3) Bob Morton's death now shows a close up of additional bullet holes puncturing his leg before he falls down.
4) When Clarence Boddiker is stabbed in the neck, there is an additional shot of him holding his neck as he turns around and blood spurts from the wound like a fountain.
To be honest, the boardroom scene is the one I (and I suspect most) recall being significantly different. Murphy's death always felt incredibly brutal, even in the 'R' version, so maybe my imagination and what was actually shown kind of merged at some point while growing up and consuming everything from the TV Edit to the Criterion Laserdisc to the 2014 Blu re-master (which was the last time this cut of the movie was included on an American physical release).
If you've never seen RoboCop (no shame, we all get there at our own pace), here's your chance to witness it for the first time as the movie was originally conceived. If you've seen RoboCop 30 times, here's an excuse to just revisit an all-timer again. Hell, it's October, and while RoboCop's not really a horror film, it still counts as Halloween viewing because a toxic mutant splatters on a windshield, and you can dress up like the titular hero for the holiday. It's official now.