To mark the release of the reboot of Robocop, directed by Jose Padilha and classified 12A, we have opened the file on the original 1987 Paul Verhoeven-directed version.
The BBFC first viewed the future of law enforcement in August 1987, and described it as "Iron Man meets The Six Million Dollar Man meets Judge Dredd."
The violence and gore, in combination with scenes of drug use, pushed Robocop clearly into the 18 category in 1987. The strong comic book influence was recognised, as was the clear distinction between good and bad, with a hero "always on the side of right" giving the film "a firm moral base".
The memorable scene in which Murphy (Peter Weller) meets his grisly death at the hands of Clarence Boddicker (Kurtwood Smith) and his crew is carefully considered, and one examiner notes that the "concentration on pain", plus the length of the scene, did give rise to thoughts of cuts. However, the clear delineation of heroes and villains, and the fact that Murphy 'survives' the attack, balances out the horror of the scene. There were also doubts about a later scene featuring the toxic, melting death of Antonowsky (Paul McCrane) as it seemed "nauseating" and "cruel". However, the gore was offset by going "so far as to become semi-comic". A scene of attempted rape is also noted, but its brevity combined with swift retribution, courtesy of Robocop, made the scene acceptable.
Overall, the "slightly offbeat and tongue-in-cheek" tone of the film "serves to ameliorate the loving care and attention with which Verhoeven treats the violence." Robocop (1987) was passed 18 uncut for theatrical release, and all subsequent video, DVD and Blu-ray releases have been passed 18, uncut.
Warning: the attached documents contain strong language