Directors shoot extra violent scenes -- Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese supposedly add more gore to make cuts look drastic for MPAA

By Steve Daly
Updated August 18, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Martin Scorsese is making the Las Vegas Mob story Casino, but who knew that the director was such a cagey gambler?

According to makeup and effects people who helped rig some of Casino‘s startling gory ”gags” (that’s what filmmakers call shots involving fakery), Scorsese has a few extra cards to play when the film goes before the Motion Picture Association of America ratings board this fall. He’s contractually obligated to deliver a R picture, but should the board cry NC-17, no problem. The Oscar-nominated director of GoodFellas is ready to drop some of his most outrageous Casino shots because he never intended to put them in the finished film anyway.

It’s a game directors play but don’t talk much about, offering up sicko sacrifices to Hollywood’s unofficial board of censors. The idea: Shock the MPAA in round one so that later trims will appear to make the difference. A Casino case in point: Enforcer Nicky (Joe Pesci) puts a hood’s head in a vise and, as described in a script draft, ”spins the vise handle until suddenly the [man’s] head explodes, splattering the room with blood and brains.”

”That was fun to shoot, but it was an exercise,” says makeup wizard Howard Berger of Kurtzman Nicotero Berger, the firm that landed the exploding-head concession partly on the strength of earlier work done for Quentin Tarantino. ”Scorsese wanted to shoot it so there was blood spraying out of the eyeball, and then the whole eyeball would pop out. He said, ‘It’s ridiculous but I have to put it in so I can cut it and keep what I really need.”’

Berger says that Tarantino shoots extra