No, I’m not going to curse more than usual, because that’s offensive and mother fucking crude. Still, children should be kept away from my and my writing – it’s subversive and too Michale Bay (translation: AWESOME) for their tiny little brains. No, when I’m talking about Unrated Editions, there are two very different topics (well, not that different) that get me equally riled up. So I’m going to hit both of them at the same time, with verbal rocks, until they die.
First, let’s talk about the Rated edition. For theatrical movies, they’re fine and good. It’s just the normal movie – most films don’t need an unrated edition to their names. For a movie to be played in the widest venue possible, it needs to have an MPAA approved rating. This isn’t a legal issue, but a monetary one, as most theaters won’t play unrated films. That is a Boiling Point for a different day. The rub comes in direct to DVD or TV movies. For the Sci-Fi channel or some other regular cable outlet, no heavy cursing or nudity. But for direct to Showtime or HBO or Cinemax, the gloves are off. For straight to DVD movies, no need for a rating. Just let it all hang out. I say that if a movie isn’t going to be released in theaters, it shouldn’t even be submitted for review. It’s a waste of time. Make a ballsy film, put it all out there, stick it to the MPAA where they can’t touch you and release your film without a rating. A straight to DVD romantic comedy obviously doesn’t have much to gain from here, but what’s the point in submitting it for a rating? Don’t give the MPAA any more responsibility than it already has.
For a non-theatrical horror, sci-fi, or action movie, never give it a rating. Or at least, don’t give it an official MPAA rating. Why bind yourself? Most producers will realize going into a project that if you have $5 million or less, the odds of you going into theaters is very low. In the rare instances when you will go, submit for a rating and then make whatever changes are necessary to get bank. But the fact of the matter is, you’ll make more money by releasing an unrated film to DVD. Rental chains don’t restrict Unrated films because – hey, they’re unrated! It could be an unrated cartoon about a loving family of raccoons adopting a skunk or a film about a serial rapist getting his brains ripped out of his nostrils with a red hot poker. If you film is submitted with a rating to a rental agency, the age effect of the rating goes into place – 16 year olds can’t rent your horror film. Add to that fact that no one gets excited by PG-13 horror in theaters, much less on DVD.
The second facet of the Unrated DVD that riles me up is the completely unwarranted release. There is no qualification for Unrated other than that it hasn’t been rated by the MPAA. They could add in 4 seconds of static teddy bears hugging, not release the new cut for a rating, and call it Unrated and Extended! Which would be absolutely true, but completely bullshit.
This is most heinous in horror DVDs that want to trick you into thinking some awesome, balls out, disgusting, brain exploding brilliance is about to happen, but really all they added was some CGI Gophers or something. An example of doing it right – My Bloody Valentine Unrated added in basically nothing but gore and kills. Live Free or Die Hard added a bunch of cursing and blood. Righteous. On the opposing spectrum is something like Seed of Chucky which added in a minute and a half of bullshit that was neither bloody or sexy. The first American Pie also released an Unrated edition that wasn’t really much different from the theatrical version. This is just a way to steal your money, not earn it, but we figured out long ago that’s what Hollywood is about.
So you can see my dilemma. My left hand wants to bitchslap anyone who releases a Rated movie direct to DVD. There’s no reason to do it and you can get away with so much more without it, so why not? But my right hand wants to ball tap the studios who release Unrated editions that are just cheap, underhanded gimmicks designed to con suckers like myself. Either way, in either instance, I’m past my boiling point.
What Unrated DVDs have proven to be completely tame?