Renting videos is all about choices. Should you pick up Bergman’s Wild Strawberries or Wings Hauser’s Street Asylum? And now there’s a new twist to complicate the selection process: the growing abundance of multiple versions of the same movie, usually one rated R, the other not rated at all. Unrated often means a longer, and always raunchier, film than the MPAA-certified edition. But do these extra minutes — sometimes seconds — really matter, or are they just an overheated marketing ploy? Here are a few recent movies released in R-rated and unrated versions that could leave you seeing double.
Movie: Andy Warhol Presents Dracula (1974) R-rated: 91 min.; unrated: 94 min.
Premise: Sickly Count Dracula (Udo Kier) hooks up with Italian aristocratic family and finds out the hard way that two daughters aren’t pure.
What’s Cut in R Version: Pair of scenes of simulated oral sex. Glimpses of full frontal nudity. Men’s bare butts bobbing during coitus.
The Difference: Very little. Gratuitousness, after all, is this movie’s virtue.
Better Cut: After gardener deflowers 14-year-old, Dracula licks blood from floor.
Movie: The Bikini Car Wash Company (1992) R-rated: 74 min.; unrated: 83 min.
Premise: Hick takes over uncle’s California car wash and staffs up with floss-wearing babes to help increase profits.
What’s in R Version: Nude coupling on beach. Simulated fellatio and intercourse in which participants recite Gettysburg Address. Frontal nudity from group body shampoo in car wash. Men’s bare butts bobbing during coitus.
The Difference: A lot; film’s raison d’etre is scenes like full frontal group body shampoos.
Better Cut: Stupid sound effects, such as Boinggg!, that punctuate every lame, sexist joke.
Movie: Illicit Behavior (1992) R-rated: 101 min.; unrated: 104 min.
Premise: Hotheaded cop (Jack Scalia) is investigated by Internal Affairs officer (Robert Davi) in death of wife’s (Joan Severance) brother.
What’s Cut in R Version: Scalia removing his and Severance’s underwear. Side views of couples grinding together. Severance’s bare lower torso as she rides naked-from-waist-down Davi. Men’s bare butts bobbing during coitus.
The Difference: None. Since when were butts integral to a story? Not counting Cold Turkey.
Better Cut: Davi’s voice: Any more marbles in his mouth and he’d burp glass.
Movie: Love Crimes (1992) R-rated: 87 min.; unrated: 93 min.
Premise: DA (Sean Young) on trail of kinky, assaultive photographer (Patrick Bergin) succumbs to his mind games.
What’s Cut in R Version: Sequence in which Bergin spanks, bathes, and massages Young. Her fireside freak-out. Graphic, orange-colored fantasy sex scene, with shots of man’s bare butt bobbing during coitus.
The Difference: Bathing sequence shows Young’s attraction to captor and implies her consent.
Better Cut: Young’s performance, most charitably described as embalmed.
Movie: Poison (1991) R-rated: 85 min.; unrated: 85 min.
Premise: A trio of dark tales: ”Hero,” ”Horror,” and ”Homo.”
What’s Cut in R Version: Split-second partial view of erection as prisoner massages another’s penis. (Still another, more complete, NC-17 version restores very brief edit from prison rape scene.)
The Difference: Film tries something new; unrated version preserves filmmaker’s intent.
Better Cut: In ”Homo,” men cough up phlegm and take turns spitting into guy’s mouth.
Movie: Secret Games (1992) R-rated: 90 min.; unrated: 97 min.
Premise: Non-orgasmic wife (Michele Brin) joins high-class bordello and becomes obsession of unbalanced client (Martin Hewitt).
What’s Cut in R Version: Parts of ménage à trois and lesbian interlude; shots of men’s bare butts bobbing during coitus.
The Difference: In ”erotic thriller,” excising sex kind of misses the point.
Better Cut: Lines like: ”You’ll see your wife’s face on the cover of every newsstand.”