Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rated vs Unrated - Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

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I went to the library earlier tonight to rent a couple movies and noticed that their entire horror collection consists of the rated versions of the films. And the selection is pretty weak, but that's besides the point. I decided to pick one up, Dawn of the Dead, to see how different the rated and unrated versions are.

Most times, the unrated stamp on the cover of a horror dvd is nothing more than a way to entice the buyer into thinking they're getting a more extended and more brutal cut of the film. And more importantly, it's a quick and easy way to rake in more profits. People who have already seen the movie in theatres and had no intention of picking it up on dvd may now be tempted to do so thanks to the promise of a better more exciting cut. In actuality, there's usually only 5 or 10 seconds of additional frames of certain gore scenes added to the film that were trimmed out for the theatrical release, in order to obtain an R rating. But with the Dawn remake, there appears to be a whole 9 minutes excised from the rated cut. While the rated version is 1 hour and 41 minutes, the unrated is 1 hour and 50 minutes. That's not something you usually see. So let's sync them up and take a look at the differences between the two versions of the film. What exactly is contained on those 9 extra minutes?

There will be spoilers abound throughout this, but I think you probably could've figured that out.

Right off the bat, the menu scenes are quite different. And if ya ask me, the rated disc has a far superior one, looking like a news report of the zombie outbreak. On the unrated cut, there's a director introduction explaining a bit of what was cut from the theatrical release.

Onto the movie. When Ana (Sarah Polly) drives away from her home after her husband goes all zombie on her in the beginning, she stops behind a parked ambulance. In the unrated cut, we see a sexy bloody and naked zombie walk up to her car. In the rated, this scene is entirely gone and the camera instead stays on Ana.

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After Ana meets up with Kenneth (Ving Rhames), they walk together for a short while before they reach the other survivors. In the unrated cut, they briefly walk through a children's playground littered with toys, a bicycle and an empty stroller. In the rated cut, this scene is completely gone. While nothing graphic is shown, I guess the idea that a bunch of kids were probably just killed there was too much for the censors to handle.

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This next scene is pretty major and comprises about 2 minutes of the difference in runtimes. In the rated cut, the gang is cut to appear inside the mall immediately after they lay eyes on it. In the unrated, we see their struggle to get inside. Andre (Mekhi Phifer) shoots an armless Japanese dude several times before Kenneth blows the door open with a shotgun. We then see them walking through the mall until they reach the main area, which is where they magically appeared in the rated version.

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After the security guys kill the water fountain zombie, they blow another ones brains out, at least in the unrated cut. The scene is deleted in the rated.

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This is a big emotional moment that the rated cut missed out on. Remember that father who got bitten by a zombie that the gang decides they have to kill? In the rated cut, we see a dialogue-less goodbye scene with him and his daughter. In the unrated it's almost a minute longer and has some really touching words in it. The father says "I'm so proud of you...I couldn't ask for anything more in a daughter...I love you...time to go honey." These simple few words added so much to that scene and i'm not sure why it was cut. I guess maybe it was deemed too emotional and human of a scene for a zombie flick.

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After the "Get Down With The Sickness" montage, there's a little scene in the unrated between two of the security guards where one of the dudes is reading a magazine article on the top 10 ingredients to a successful relationship. Pretty useless little throwaway scene, but it does show us a more likable side of CJ, the asshole security guy.

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This is a pretty funny little scene that didn't make the cut where the old dude who was trying on women's shoes a few scenes earlier is telling the security guards about the first time he realized he was gay. He was 13 and it was the deck builder working on his house that he fell for, in case you were curious. And yes, he's locked up behind bars like all gays should be. KIDDING!

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In the epic post baby delivery gun fight between Andre and the old woman, all the bullet hits that Andre takes are kept in the rated cut, but all the ones on the old woman have been edited out. Someone's worried about incuring the wrath of the feminists.

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In the uncut disc, when the surviving members of the crew go through the underground tunnels and emerge on the other side, in order to get vehicles, there are a good 5 zombie shootings that occur, none of which are on the rated disc. There's also an awesome scene where Kenneth shoots a zombie point blank with a shotgun.

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And in the final scene, Michael (Jake Weber) realizes he's been bitten and opts to stay behind as the rest of the gang sails off into the sunset. In the rated cut, we see Michael holding a gun and then cut away and hear the shot fired. In the unrated, they show him put the gun under his chin and then it cuts away and we hear the same sound.

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So as you can see, the two versions are a lot more different than most unrated vs rated cuts of horror movies. The unrated is of course the better movie, and that's not just because of the added gore scenes. There was also some emotional character driven stuff that was excised and the movie is a lot more complete and whole in its unrated variety. There's also a couple pretty cool special features that are exclusivelty for the unrated. I'm not sure why anyone would ever buy the rated cuts of horror films regardless, though. I understand it's for people that don't wanna see all the blood and guts, but who buying a horror movie doesn't wanna see all the blood and guts they can possibly see? It really makes no sense to me.

I hope this was interesting to more people than just myself. I'll admit i'm way into movie editing and how much can be done to change a film in post production. Hopefully I haven't bored anyone! If you thought this was complete drivel, I encourage you to use the comment feature and let me know!

On a related note, since I love to link to my own content, check out this little game I made a couple months back where you have to guess the horror movie based only on its unrated tag from the cover! Scroll down below that post for the answers. No cheating!

7 comments:

Al said...

Thank you!

Twashybuckles said...

good stuff... you forgot the one part in the unrated right before CJ blows up the propare tank in the crowd... a zombie pops up a top the bus and CJ dishes out some pain with the shotty... otherwise, good read...

Zacery Nova said...

"I'll admit i'm way into movie editing and how much can be done to change a film in post production."

Are you my twin brother? Seriously, I'm obsessed with how much a movie can be flipped with smart (or stupid) editing!

Johnny said...

ever thought about getting into film editing as a career?

Zacery Nova said...

I have edited together things before (like the Black X-Mas trailer and I altered the ending significantly - it's on youtube somewhere). Anyway, I would love to do movie editing as a job (I know how it works) but I wouldn't even know where to start. And I don't particularly want to move!

PS: Check out my "i like potatoes" video on youtube - it's a music video I did for a contest I want to win. www.youtube.com/blackchristmas09

- Zac

Johnny said...

Cool, I will check your YouTube channel out!

Anonymous said...

Thanks man, this breakdown is exactly what I was looking for.
Ash