In the 80s, it was common courtesy in crime movies that the investigating cop ended up in a strip bar in the second act. The movie could be upvalued for the target group with a couple half-naked chicks without telling a love story only to have the opportunity to install a sex scene. Movies with less plot and, as a result of that, more time used to combine stripper and lover. Abel Ferrara's Fear City instead doesn't leave the strip bar very often. That's why there's enough room for strippers, strippers making love and even lesbian strippers making love. The lesbian love is not seen willingly in the US. As a result of that the R-Rated Version tries to hide that.
What's the movie about?
A nameless killer with amazing martial arts skills kills strippers. By doing that he crosses Matt Rossi's business and private path. Matt is a former boxer who owns an agency for strippers now and who's in love with the bisexual stripper Loretta. The cops don't have a clue, the mob is annoyed and the topless bars shocked because the beauties of the scene are afraid to die. That's why only third-class strippers are ready to do the job and enter the stage. At the time the best friend and business partner gets knocked out, it's about time Matt took action.
Abel Ferrara's Fear City is a little, filthy movie that takes place in the middle of the milieu and contains a lot of nudity. Originally commissioned by 20th Century Fox but then considered too reckless, the rights were sold to a small publisher who brought the movie only in a few theaters. Furthermore the version was slightly censored, as the following comparison wil show.
For some reason the German DVD released in 2000 directly contained both the Unrated Version and the R-Rated Version as well. When it comes to the movie itself, the German DVD should be prefered. Unfortunately, the image of the German DVD sucks, it looks like a copy of an old VHS. The US-DVD on the other hand has brighter colors and the image itself looks just sharper and more detailed. Both versions are open matte but the image section is sligthly different. The French version by TFI matches with the R-Rated Version, but it's matted. On older French DVD seems to contain the Unrated Version. While the Theatrical Version and the taped were censored even more, the DVD contains the R-Rated Version.
Compared are the US Version (R-Rated) and the German Version (Unrated), both available on the German DVD by e-m-s. Apart from modifications due to censorship, either of the versions contains some plot scenes missing in the other version.
8:44 | 8:44
While the R-Rated contains a slightly extended shot of Matt, the Unrated sticks with Leila kissing Loretta's neck for a longer period.
German Version: 5.5 sec | US Version: 2 sec
The audio track is different before and after the difference (see above) as well. One can hear the women kissing each other in the Unrated, in the R-Rated Leila just says "Happy Birthday".
8:52 | 8:48
The Unrated contains a shot of the kissing each others lips. In the R-Rated, Leila gives Loretta a massage of her shoulders. Bottom line: the R-Rated tries to hide the bisexuality.
German Version: 4.5 sec | US Version: 3 sec
9:38 | 9:32
Extended shot of Nicky talking to Matt during the road trip. He tries to cheer him up with a joke.
US Version: 23 sec
11:13 | 11:31
Nicky's phone conversation with the cops is different. The Unrated contains intensive flashbacks of the stripper's assault at the beginning. The R-Rated contains an extended conversation with the cops instead. While the R-Rated is conventional here, the Unrated tries to scar the audience with flashbacks and a fancy sound.
German Version: 7.5 sec | US Version: 18.5 sec
13:36 | 14:04
Matt switches on the TV in his appartment.
German Version: 15 sec
20:18 | 20:32
Wheeler complains about Matt's arrogance.
US Version: 11.5 sec
21:36 | 22:00
Alternate shot of Loretta for a second. Leila complains about a viewer of her show. The story is different in either of the versions. It's not known if the German translation of the Unrated differs or if that's an R-Rated/Unrated difference, which is followed by two different shots. Technically, the R-Rated is saucier here.
In the Unrated (German Version), she says some jerk ripped up half of her dress because he couldn't hold back. In the R-Rated (US Version), she says there was a guy last time, who slobbered over her so hard that he'd already jerked off in his lap. She adds she wasn't even able to undress.
German Version: 2.5 sec | US Version: 2.5 sec
21:57 | 22:22
Leila needs proof that Loretta has already forgotten those guys, otherwise she's not going to bring her coffee. They kiss each other.
Again the removal of footage which contains bisexual activities.
German Version: 27 sec
22:35 | 22:33
Loretta's following strip begins earlier.
US Version: 6 sec
22:40 | 22:44
Extended shot of her lifting up her can...
German Version: 3 sec
23:39 | 23:40
... and spreading her legs.
German Version: 3.5 sec
27:30 | 27:28
Extended shot of the wound on Leila's forehead.
German Version: 1 sec
27:45 | 27:42
Extended shot of the blood flowing in Leila's eyes.
German Version: 2 sec
37:54 | 37:49
Extended shot of the killer practicing with nunchucks.
German Version: 9.5 sec
44:18 | 44:04
Matt plays with the hair stick he took out of her hair in Loretta's mouth.
German Version: 27 sec
45:24 | 44:43
Extended shot of them kissing each other while kneading her boobs underneath her shirt.
German Version: 11.5 sec
48:43 | 47:51
Extended shot of the mob assassin shooting at the two guys while the boys is trying to cover.
German Version: 2.5 sec
71:06 | 70:12
Matt insults Wheeler differently during the interrogation. Again it's not clear whether the difference is just due the translation or not but presumably this is really a difference between R and Unrated. The footage is equal btw.
Wheeler's reaction is different. He doesn't reply in the R-Rated, he just says afterwards he needed some time with the interrogation (in both versions). In the Unrated instead, he hits Matt and he falls off the chair. Wheeler says the police was the incarnation of the authority of the state. Matt starts getting beored.
Now the insult. In the Unrated, he says he got that niggers like him could do whatever they want without being punishes. In the R-Rated, he says he heard his mother got banged by all the gangs and adds she did like it.
German Version: 38.5 sec | US Version: 5 sec
71:48 | 70:21
Extended shot of Wheeler's colleague leaving the room. One can hear Wheeler hitting Matt once again in the off.
German Version: 3 sec
73:24 | 71:54
Extended shot of Matt holding Nicky's hand at the hospital bed.
German Version: 8.5 sec
87:41 | 86:02
The end, when Wheeler asks Matt if he considered himself a hero now because he'd killed the assassin, is slightly different. Matt replies he never thought he was a hero.
In the R-Rated, Wheeler smiles and says he probably was one. Then he gives the order to walk Matti and Loretta off in quite a friendly way. In the Unrated, Wheeler doesn't smile and he doesn't mention Matti was probably a hero. Instead he browbeats him and gives the order to walk them off.
German Version: 7 sec | US Version: 13.5 sec
88:12 | 86:40
Intercut to Loretta in the cop car. She puts her arms around Matt. This gives the audience the impression that Wheeler thinks about Matt for a longer period before he turns away.
US Version: 4 sec
88:20 | 86:51
The last shot of the movie is also different. In the R-Rated, Loretta only leans against Matt. In the Unrated, she kisses him.
German Version: 15.5 sec | US Version: 9 sec
The shot of New York at night during the credits is equal in either of the versions but the text begins delayed in time. The Unrated continues the jazz music from the scene before, the R-Rated contains the pop song "New York Doll" by Davon Johansen instead.