Is The X-Rated Director’s Cut of RoboCop Worth A Watch?

Photo: RoboCop 1987 (Orion Pictures)

If you’ve only seen the theatrical version of RoboCop and not the X-rated director’s cut, have you really seen RoboCop? The short answer is yes. But you missed out on some additional blood and gore.

RoboCop, released in 1987, is a sci-fi action movie set in a dystopic and crime-ridden Detroit. A terminally wounded cop (Peter Weller, a.k.a. Buckaroo Banzai) returns to the force as a powerful cyborg haunted by submerged memories. The movie received two Oscar nominations in 1988 for Best Sound and Best Film Editing, and won a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing.

When director Paul Verhoeven originally submitted his movie to the MPAA, the feature was hit with an X rating due to extreme violence and gore. It took 11 tries of recutting and resubmitting before the movie was given an R rating, which toned down the violence and made room for a bit more satirical black humor to lighten the movie’s tone.

Now, the X-rated director’s cut of the movie is available on Amazon Prime, ready to stream for fans who demand more blood and gore in their curious eyeballs.

If the director’s cut had been released today, we doubt it would receive an X rating from the MPAA. There are far more violent movies out there now, so what exactly made this one receive the adult rating in the first place?

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Murphy’s Death

If you’re here for the gore, Murphy’s death scene alone will satisfy: close-ups of his hand and arm being shot off, lots of agonizing screaming, and additional camera shots of his pained face before being shot in the head. There’s also an overhead shot of the bloody aftermath with his partner, Lewis (Nancy Allen), hovering over Murphy’s dead body in horror. It’s all here, folks!

Boardroom Massacre

Besides Murphy’s death, this is arguably the most memorable scene of the movie and is made all the more visceral in the uncut version. After poor Mr. Kinney is volunteered to test out the ED-209’s programming, the robot literally overkills the man when it doesn’t realize he has dropped his weapon. Kinney is shot a ridiculous amount of times in an intentionally disturbing, brutal mess. What’s even more bothersome is the way the other characters react as though a man having just been savagely murdered for no reason is just another day in the office.

Bloody Close-Ups

One of the biggest differences between the theatrical version and the director’s cut was the close-ups that make the blood and gore more obvious in the X-rated version. For example, when Bobby is shot in the leg in the theatrical version, we see it from a distance. In the director’s cut, they use a close-up shot to highlight the gory injury. Clarence’s death was a more obvious change, as the X-rated version zooms right in on his face as blood spurts from his neck. In the theatrical cut, another faraway frame is used to lessen the impact.

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Verhoeven created a viscerally violent movie in a way that seems to challenge how we respond to violence. We are socially desensitized to it (even more so today), especially in the news. This is directly highlighted in a scene towards the end of the movie where the reporters are casually discussing how 113 people were killed when a laser cannon malfunctioned. There’s no emotion, and after giving that news report, they move onto the next story. It’s business as usual.

That said, if you’ve never seen RoboCop, then the director’s cut on Amazon Prime (which is only listed as R-rated on the streamer,) is definitely worth a watch, not just for the violence, but for the commentary on our culture and the movie’s delightful dark humor. If you have already seen RoboCop, you can probably save yourself a couple of hours, unless you got a thing for heavy violence.