1.) Concerning 'exclusive' R-rated versions:
There has been a lot of confusion regarding DVD releases in an 'Unrated' version lately. So this censorship report doesn't only compare two versions of 'Wizard of Gore', but does take a look behind the scenes of the rating practices and some companies' DVD releasing policy in the United States. However, in some cases (e.g. Feast, Feast II, Rogue, Storm Warning, Children of Wax) the sometimes quite obscure rating practices lead to confusion and, in rare cases, even angry reactions in other countries where these movies are released. The following report tries to shed some light on this issue (which may not be unfamiliar to regular readers of this website) and to explain some details (as mentioned above, this isn't limited to 'The Wizard of Gore' but includes some other movies, too).
Politics of multiple releases: Rated and Unrated
It's widely known that there often are two different home video releases of a movie in the U.S.: One version rated by the MPAA and a (quite effective in advertising) unrated version. In the past, many people – even on this website – assumed for a certain time that, above all, the economically most powerful U.S store companies didn't offer any unrated DVDs. The ones to be mentioned here are Walmart as most important seller of DVDs and Blockbuster as biggest Video rental store.
However, both chains have been offering unrated DVDs for quite a long time. Only the very rarely occurring NC-17-movies are not offered there. Unrated versions that would have gotten an NC-17 if presented to the MPAA are no problem for those stores and can be found there en masse on the shelves. Those two companies jumped on the unrated-bandwagon a bit later than rival companies as Amazon.com or Best Buy and sometimes explicitly refused to offer certain unrated versions, such as e.g. Old School or Requiem for a dream. But since unrated versions have become a mass phenomenon and the sales are not to be ignored any more, those politics changed.
At Walmart, too, both online and in the individual stores unrated versions can be found. This also and above all affects movies of which two versions are available.
Nevertheless, the R-rated versions of these movies are offered by these companies as well, but not in all cases and not more often than the unrated counterpart. So one can only guess why there are two versions of those movies released. One explanation could be that this issue is handled differently in different regions of the States: Whereas stores in the more conservative parts of the country are offering mainly the R-rated version, this is not necessary in other parts of the country. Though there is no complete proof of this theory, it still remains one of the most plausible explanations.
Especially at Blockbuster this can be seen more clearly. It seems like the R-rated versions are more likely to be offered in the (online) rental section, whereas in the Blockbuster Stores the unrated versions usually can be obtained, too. Especially in the rental section, where the majority are R-rated versions in order to maintain the family-friendly environment, this often leads to customers getting angry. Examples: Here, here, and here. Being that angry, many people then assume that Blockbuster censor DVDs by themselves. However, this is very unlikely…
Exclusive R-rated versions
If and when a movie is released in both an R- and unrated version can usually be known by viewing U.S. DVD websites or the most exact and complete source, amazon.com's media catalog. At exactly this point things become interesting: Some R-rated versions appear neither in announcements of the labels, and hence on the usual DVD-websites either, nor are those R-rated versions mentioned in the catalog of amazon.com or any other send away company. Just the unrated version is mentioned.
This mainly affects movies released by The Weinstein Company, which owns the sub-labels Dimension and Dimension Extreme. Weinstein and Blockbuster concluded a 3-year agreement in 2006 which gives Blockbuster the right to exclusively offer the rental versions of those labels' movies. On their covers, you can usually find an eye-catching Blockbuster Exclusive sticker. In course of this agreement it might be possible that Weinstein resp. Dimension have already created R-rated versions of their movies to appropriately fit the family friendly store policy. So it seems mainly the movies of Dimension Extreme to be affected, as there are many unrated movies from this label of which R-rated counterparts exist that are not to be found anywhere else. But on the other hand, many don't have said counterpart: Those are only available as unrated versions. So it might be possible that in some cases an R-rated version had been made for a limited theatrical release, for example, and that Blockbuster happily took this version for rental. It's a fact that those exclusive R-rated versions, due to many reports (as mentioned above), are to be found almost exclusively in the Blockbuster rental section.
Exclusive R-rated version: Shortened? Yes. Censored? Not necessarily.
However, not all exclusive R-rated versions are censored to obtain said rating. In this respect, this story isn' any different from other double releases. There, too, you have some deceptive releases which suggest an uncensored or gorier version. Whereas there are some already uncensored R-rated versions in the Dimension Extreme franchise, it is possible as well that a movie easily capable of obtaining an R-rating to be marketed as unrated due to advertising reasons. If there is an additional R-rated version of this movie, it is not necessarily censored.
Something like that happened to the not so gory Australian crocodile horror movie Rogue. This movie was released in the U.S. in an unrated version under the label of Dimension Extreme. It seems that there was made a shorter R-rated version of the movie as well. As no censorship cuts were necessary to obtain the R-rating, Dimension just removed some plot elements. Maybe also to shorten the movie a bit for U.S. audiences. The unabridged version does have a gory 'unrated' sticker to suggest that this is a gorier version. In Feast III, too, the changes were not made for censoring but for the only cause to be able to release an additional unrated version for advertising reasons.
2.) Versions and report:
The storyline of 13: Game of Death is loosely based on the movie Saw or even US TV show Fear Factor, as the main character has to face several challenges consisting of tests of courage based on disgusting or violent actions in order to obtain a handsome prize money of 1 million dollars. This movie from Thailand doesn't contain many gory elements, but the few were cut in the R-rated version. Additionally, a quite disgusting scene had to be removed. Further, there are some unnecessary cuts in this version which don't even pull together the plot or shorten lengthy scenes but seem to have been made at will. Even the cover is different, the unrated version doesn't only have the respective sticker on it, but even has a gorier artwork.
Comparison between the censored R-rated DVD and the uncensored unrated DVD (both from Dimension Extreme).
15 cuts = 242,76 secs. resp. ca. 4 minutes 3 seconds
0:34:08: Pusit, oddly called 'Chad' on the English soundtrack, picks up a piece of feces with a spoon and looks at it in a disgusted manner. After a few moments of hesitation he puts the spoon into his mouth. Judging by his disgusted look, he seems to be fighting off an urge to throw up.
0:35:34: A close-up of Pusit throwing up on the floor was removed.
0:53:56: This cut doesn't seem to have censorship reasons. Pusit can be seen a bit longer before reaching for the rope.
0:55:41: Pusit is still struggling in the well to lift up the dead body. Due to the fidgeting, the mutilated face comes quite close to him and he gets a slightly scared. He says: 'Don't. I'm gonna have a heart attack! I just wanna get you out, You have family, can have a proper burial for you and then you can rest in peace.'. He then pushes the body a bit away from him.
1:19:23: Again a rather senseless cut. The 'lady' watches TV, then observes the stairs where Tawng ascends first.
1:21:02: The old woman is nagging a bit more about the wet laundry on the floor. 'Least you can do is put them away before you leave. Look at them, all wet. I'm gonna bash your head in when I see you, Henry!'
1:21:31: The woman yells: 'Henry, where did you run off to, Henry?'
1:22:36: Pusit's holding the clothesline and looking to the grandma who is grinning at him is missing, too. Afterwards, the camera moves back towards him again.
1:24:03: The first bikers partly lose their heads by the wire.
1:24:47: A boy with missing skullcap (honestly, a bad effect) props himself up a bit and gets rid of the girl's body which is still clutching him.
1:25:01: While the boy is crawling towards Pusit you can clearly see his open skull and brain. During his approach, he is staring apathetically and blood is constantly running from his wound. Pusit looks shocked and the boy eventually dies.
1:30:01: You can see Tawng's dead dog lying in a puddle of blood. Pusit screams: 'Bitch! Get the hell out of here! Stop bothering me! Your dog is dead because you just couldn't keep out of it!'
1:32:37: Part of the argument between the owner of the cow and another guy is missing.
Guy 1 'I won't step, you take that back! We didn't slaughter your cow!'
Guy 2: 'Oh yeah?'
Guy 1: 'You need to take back that your insult and you better do it fast!'
Guy 2: 'Who are you talking to?!'
1:33:52: The gutted cow can be seen a bit longer in the unrated version.
1:46:04: Pusit's father stabs the knife in his belly.