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:
Like many other movies of the Dimension Extreme series, Argento's final chapter of his Mother-trilogy had been released in two versions in the US, too: in a censored R-rated version and in an uncensored original version as an unrated DVD. As this is an Italian movie, there are no extraordinary cuts, just some for censorship reasons. The R-rated version is even heavier cut than similar censored versions, due to some cuts of erotic material.
27 differences = 82,7 secs.:
26 censorship cuts
1 changed cut
Comparison between the censored R-rated version on the Dimension Extreme US DVD and the uncensored unrated version, as well a Dimension Extreme DVD.
Close-up: The murder tool in Giselle's mouth can be seen, followed by a cut to the screw.
When the creatures remove the murder tool from Giselle's mouth, some frames were removed as well.
The frame of Giselle's heavily mutilated mouth is missing in the R-rated version. The following shot (a long shot of Giselle) is missing entirely..
The second long shot (identical to the first one) is contained in the R-rated version, however cut towards its end.
The third long shot of Giselle, too, (after she got the knife stuck in her belly in the background) has been shortened towards its end in the R-rated version.
The creatures are messing around in Giselle's chest with the dagger (only in the background). Three shots are missing: Giselle, her hand, and her again. The first frame of the following shot (the close-up of the dagger in her chest) is missing, too.
Close-up of her entrails starting to come out of her (the first shot is included in the R-rated version).
Giselle is walking around and her entrails splash on the floor. Then she is grasped by the creatures who start winding her intestines around her own neck.
The following shot of the creatures starting to wind Giselle's intestines around her neck was inserted in the R-rated version a bit later, after the shot of the screaming monkey. In the unrated version, this shot can be seen immediately after Giselle's guts are lying on the floor. Sfter that, the monkey can be seen here, too.
No (particular) runtime difference
The camera moves along the butt of the witch.This shot was shortened at its beginning in the R-rated version, so it starts when the butt is almost out of view.
When Sarah kills the Japanese woman on the train, a shot of Sarah preparing another strike with the door and the following shot of the Japanese woman's head being crushed are missing in the R-rated version. The following shot of Sarah starting another strike with the door has been shortened by a frame, too.
The priest with the cut throat (Udo Kier) can be seen a bit longer. He starts screaming. The foloowing shot of the blood-spattered woman is one frame shorter, too.
The woman cuts the priest's Achilles tendon. 3 shots: the bleeding wound, the screaming priest, and again the wound.
The woman hacks the priest's face two additional times with the meat cleaver.
And another three times.
The love scene of the two women was shortened in the R-rated version so you can't see the women's breasts any more. There is also missing how one woman tenderly strokes the other one's breast.
Shortly after the bald killer has stabbed out he eyes of Marta's friend, the shots of Marta and her screaming friend without her eyes are missing in the R-rated version.
The shot where you can see Marta getting the spear rammed into her body was shortened in the R-rated version, so there is no blood spattering. The first frame of the following shot (Marta screaming) is missing, too.
Close-up of the spear being driven further into Marta's body. The following shot of Marta is missing entirely, too.
After the witches have licked all over Marta, the murderer drives the spear through her entire body so it comes out of her mouth.
The orgy of the witches in the catacombs of the crypt is missing in the R-rated version. In the uncut version, Sarah turns around a corner and ends up in front of two blood-spattered people kissing ecstatically. Then you see a barely dressed guy lying on the floor, rubbing dirt on himself. In front of him, there is a half naked woman getting her tongue pierced by another half naked woman. After that, you see the blood-spattered couple in the corridor again. Sarah walks back a bit, disgusted. This is followed by a fat woman kneeling. There is something in her butt on which another woman is chewing. In the end, there is a shot of a woman getting her back cut open. She is moaning excitedly.
Before the witch gets pulled the shirt over her head by her female henchman, the long shot of this action with the naked witch is missing. There you can see her crotch, which might be the cause for removal of this shot.
The bald guy is messing around in the chest of the policeman with his spear a bit longer.
The second shot of the spear in the wound, which can be seen after the camera has moved down the face of the policeman wreathing in pain, is missing..
When the tremors start, another long shot of the action where you can see the naked witch is missing in the R-rated version. Again, the cause for this removal might be the fact that you can see her crotch once more..
Again the buck naked witch on the table.
Nachdem die Hexe von dem Obelisken zerquetscht wurde, fehlen in der R-Rated-Fassung drei Einstellungen, wie sie auf diesem zusammensackt.