Weekend Roundtable: First R-Rated Movie You Saw

As the raunchy comedy ‘Ted 2′ opens this weekend, countless underage kids across the nation will inevitably sneak in to see the movie against their parents’ wishes. It’s a rite of passage. What was the first R-rated you ever saw before you were old enough to do so, and did it forever corrupt your juvenile mind?

M. Enois Duarte

My earliest memory of my first R-rated movie was watching George A. Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead‘ sometime in the early 1980s. Granted, the movie was never officially rated because the MPAA rating system didn’t start until the following month after the film’s theatrical release. Still, given its subject matter and the gruesomely violent gore effects for 1968, the massively influential classic is really for adults only and should have been labeled as such.

When I rented the VHS tape during a summer break, a couple of friends and I had no idea what to expect. We picked the movie simply based on the title and cover art. At first, we were surprised to see that it was in black and white, and then we were shocked by the gory mayhem that ensued, which left a lasting impact and a very fond memory. I always knew that I loved horror and watched anything my young impressionable mind could get hold of, but Romero’s iconic masterwork ignited a permanent, fervent passion for the genre that endures to this very day.

Shannon Nutt

When I was 9-years-old, I spent part of the summer with my aunt and uncle in Virginia. One night, they decided to take me to the movies with my cousins (a few years older than myself). Their pick was ‘The Amityville Horror‘. This was not only my first R-rated movie, but my first horror film of any kind. To top things off, I have a distinct memory of my older cousin (I’m guessing he was maybe 12 at the time) insisting that we sit close to the screen – so we wound up in like the third or fourth row. I was scared to death, and am pretty sure I spent most of the movie (which I’ve never seen again; childhood trauma lasts a long time) with my eyes closed, and maybe even a bit down under the seats. I do remember sneaking a peek during star Margot Kidder’s brief topless scene in the movie, which I’m pretty sure was my first exposure to female nudity.

To this day, the horror genre remains my least favorite type of movie, to the point where something has to be pretty well reviewed for me to even consider seeing it. I have less of a problem with female nudity in film, as you can probably guess.

Mike Attebery

The first R-rated movie I remember seeing was ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles‘. I still don’t really think that film is inappropriate for anyone, although the scene where Steve Martin yells at the car rental lady after her company left him “in the middle of [email protected] nowhere with [email protected] keys to a [email protected] car that [wasn’t] [email protected] there” caused me to give my parents a curious look. For a 9-year-old, that was a pretty thorough introduction to the multifaceted qualities of the F-word.

Luke Hickman

My history with R-rated movies is funny because it involves two movies released several years apart that connect to something being released next week. The very first R-rated movie that I (mostly) watched as a kid came somewhere around the age of 5 or 6. My mother ran a day care out of our home, and two of the kids came from a family who owned an old-school video rental shop. (This was before the era of chain video stores.) Each weekend, they would rent us a VCR and few movies for free. I recall that it had a cartridge loader that popped up from the top of the unit.

We kids frequently checked out the same movies over and over again, while my parents would get something for them to watch after we went to bed. One Friday night, after my parents put us to bed – or so they thought – we grabbed our pillows, sneaked out into the hallway that looked straight out at the TV in our living room, and laid there watching ‘The Terminator‘.

As a near-teenager, the first R-rated movie that I watched just-so-happened to be ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day‘. A friend’s parents went out of town on a free HBO weekend, so we stayed up late one Saturday and watched it.

Here’s to hoping that next week’s PG-13-rated ‘Terminator: Genisys’ is in the same leagues as the first two. It’s highly unlikely, but I’m hopeful.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I have a very distinct memory of walking by the theater inside the local mall and seeing the show times for ‘Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter‘. I remember breathing a sigh of relief at the sight of that subtitle, comforted that the franchise that had terrified me so much was apparently coming to a close. That was the spring of 1984. I was 5-years-old and had already seen multiple ‘Friday the 13th’ flicks.

As you could probably have guessed, I grew up with horror fanatics as parents. My father would let me watch absolutely anything, even during my most tender years, and my mother only drew the line at nudity. I could watch a nubile teenager be gruesomely dismembered as long as her top stayed on. Another standout childhood memory was sitting down in the living room with my mom and a pad of legal paper, ticking off every time someone was murdered in the first two ‘Halloween’ movies. She thought the body count was higher in the sequel but wanted to be sure.

I don’t have any complaints, though! As anyone who’s looked at my DVD and Blu-ray collection certainly knows, I caught the horror bug too.

Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)

Summer, 1975: I was 8-years-old. My mother had something important to do one weekend afternoon so she dropped my brother (12), sister (10) and me off at the local theater for an afternoon of wholesome entertainment. She had thought the theater was playing ‘The Great Waldo Pepper’, but apparently that ship had sailed (or plane had flown). Instead, we were treated to a Woody Allen triple feature: ‘Sleeper’, ‘Bananas’ and ‘Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid To Ask‘.

The first two were pretty funny (even to an 8-year-old), but that third one mystified me, and my siblings were of little help in shedding any light on the subject. I remember the control room operators saying things like “Roll out the tongue” and “Send in the sperm,” and police were chasing some giant breast around the countryside – all very befuddling (yet strangely fascinating) to my young mind. As a crash course in sexual education, I’d say the movie was less than effective.

Josh Zyber

I can’t say with certainty what the first R-rated movie I ever saw was. My mother was pretty lax when it came to movie ratings. In fact, she didn’t pay attention to them at all. Basically, if she wanted to see a movie, she’d bring me along to the theater with her, regardless of what it was.

My first memory of consciously identifying that I wasn’t supposed to be old enough for a movie we went to see was ‘Beverly Hills Cop‘ in 1984. I don’t think that 10-year-old me was too scandalized by anything I saw in it. I assume that the rating was for profanity and violence. Is there nudity in that one too? I don’t even recall. Honestly, the same movie would probably get a PG-13 if rated today. Maybe some of the swearing would be toned down. Still, at the time, the thrill of watching something forbidden added a lot to the experience.

Ironically, six years later I asked my mom to drop me off at the mall so I could see what I told her would be an R movie (I don’t even remember what that was, but she didn’t bat an eye at it), but I actually went to see the PG-rated ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’. I was too embarrassed to admit that I wanted to see a kids’ movie when I was almost the ripe old age of 16.

What was your first R-rated movie? Tell us in the Comments.

43 comments

  1. I’m not exactly sure what my first R rated movie was. I remeber watching the Road Warrior when we got one of our first VCR’s. My parents were all freaked out by the FBI warning in the beginning. Maybe Gymkata. My dad was weird because I specifically remember not being allowed to watch Razorback, but sometimes I would ease in with them and they’d let me stay. I guess the official movie that I remember being allowed to watch and I consider it my first R would be Sudden Impact. My older brother tried to convince me that the men weren’t getting shot in the balls.

  2. Scott

    For some reason I remember going to the drive in with my parents when they saw Flashdance. I remember being told to close my eyes on many occasions. I guess I was seven then.

    First R rated movie I remember going to see in the theater without having to close my eyes was Rain Man, must have been 12 judging by the year it was released.

    I do have a funny story related to Aliens though. I was 10 when it came out in the theater. I remember seeing the previews and wanting to see it really, really bad. Of course I knew there was no way I was going to be allowed to go see it so I didn’t even attempt to. Flash forward however long it took movies to come onto HBO back then. I remember watching HBO and seeing lots and lots of previews for Aliens. This time I asked my mom if I could stay up late and watch it. She said no and I continued to push on watching it. Finally she said if I did this one chore I could watch it. The chore was the grand daddy of all chores. We had one side of our house that was basically a Mad Max wasteland that no one ever dared go to. Problem was that millions upon millions of weeds had taken over and it had gotten to the point where you couldn’t even physically go over there. The deal became: Pull all the weeds on the side of the house and you can see your movie. So I spent every day after school literally for weeks pulling weeds, finally clearing all of them out. I think my mom never thought I would actually do it.
    So the night came to watch Aliens. No one else in my house was interested in watching with me, so I watched on our old 600 pound tube TV with all the lights off in the living room. I was terrified!!! What was I thinking wanting to watch this movie?!?! Then *spoiler alert* the first chest burster scene came up. The lady saying, “Kill me, kill me”, I didn’t even want to watch the movie anymore. Then the alien bust from her chest and I ran to the TV to turn it off! I’d done all of that hard work for weeks just to be too chicken s*** to watch the movie!
    Next day my mom asked me how the movie was. I told her the truth. I’m sure she laughed and laughed inside.

  3. Chris B

    I was 8 years old and sleeping over at a friend’s house. His older brother happened to be watching Full Metal Jacket and we thought it seemed like a good idea to join him. Hoo boy…the D’onofrio suicide scene traumatized me and I didn’t sleep properly for the next few weeks. I remember soon after that seeing the original Punisher movie with Dolph Lundgren at the same kid’s house…his parents must have been pretty liberal, or just not around that much…

  4. theHDphantom

    I believe mine was The People Under The Stairs and Pet Sematary on the same day. Watched them at my grandparents place on VHS when I was about 7 or 8 years old. TPUTS didn’t scare me much, but Pet Sematary shook me up a bit. The Victor Pascow character scared the sh*t out of me! It was these two films that got me loving the horror genre.

  5. itjustWoRX

    I’m pretty sure it was Predator. I was about 4 or 5 years old, and I was taught how to load the laserdisc player properly by then. It’s still one of my favorite movies of all time.

    In the theaters…it was “Outbreak” in 1995, so I was 7 or 8. I saw that one with my dad. Still a movie I enjoy to this day.

  6. Jared Chamberlain

    My first R-rated movie was Commando. My dad let me watch it with him when I was about three years old. I didn’t really know what I was watching, but I knew right away that it was awesome. It was my favorite movie until I was about ten, and still a movie I watch often because it reminds me of really good times with my dad. Not the best movie of all time, but entertaining as hell. Even at an incredibly inappropriate age.

  7. Like I would remember this one!!!

    If I had to name one, perhaps it was “Phantasm” or “Don’t Go in the Woods”
    I was certainly underage and Phantasm certainly stuck with me. That little flying door-knob looking thing with a drill in it.

  8. I remember it was the third Dirty Harry film “The Enforcer”. I had almost convinced my mother to let me go to see Dog Day Afternoon the year before but I had to wait until the age of 11 to see a film with that magical R rating.

  9. My first was Commando. My parents taped it off of Cinemax and we wore that tape down. I was so young I had no clue there was a nude scene in it. I went back later and watched it and I was shocked. I remember the scene, but my innocent little mind thought nothing of it. I still live that movie. I showed it to my wife and she hated it all except for the epic opening montage.

  10. Bill

    Interesting that for almost everyone here their first R-rated film was either a violent or horror. No sex. It might be interesting to hear what a psychologist might make of that.

    As for me, I never paid much attention to ratings and also they might have been different in Canada anyways.

  11. Scott H

    My first R Film was Terminator 2. I was 11 and my parents had rented T2 and told me I couldn’t watch because it was too violent and rated R, so I walked up stairs and watched through the slats in the railing upstairs. The scene of the T1000 coming up out of the mental hospital floor and killing that guard scared the crap out of me. So every time I would hear the squishy sound made by the guard walking on the T1000, I thought he was going to come up out of the floor and kill me. Because of that T2 is my all time favorite movie. It was the first DVD I bought before I even had a player to play it on.

    • The first vhs I ever bought on my own was the original Terminator. I was only like 12 and I remember being afraid that the lady wasn’t going to ring me up for it, but she did with no questions. I still have that vhs and its still in good shape. I bought it at Zayre for like 24 bucks.

    • William Henley

      Terminator 2 was my second DVD, but the first I bought after I bought a DVD player. It was the first movie I had on VHS that had an extended cut and alternate ending. It was one of the first movies I bought on Blu-Ray (I bought 4 movies when I bought the PS3, and it was one of them)

  12. Ivan

    The Road Warrior. The villains were ruthless, violent, bizarre and unlike anything that I had ever seen in an action movie.

  13. Tom Tuttle

    Not sure about the rating or even if it was the first one, but Seconds with Rock Hudson stands out.
    Around nine or ten years old. Was on the floor in front of the TV. Most of the film is not really that frightening for children and most went over my head, just happy to be up late watching TV with the parents. The last scene though… I still consider this one of the most frightening scenes ever committed to film. No blood, no gore, just pure horror of the daily routine of putting a person to death.
    After the film, my father noted dryly, that the last bit probably wasn’t suitable for me.

  14. William Henley

    This one really got me thinking. When I saw the topic, I immediately thought “Oh, that’s easy, it was Terminator 2”. Then I stopped myself – I was 12 when Terminator 12 came out, and I know I saw my first R rated movie when I was like 7 or 8. So then I thought “Well, it must have been Nightmare on Elm Street”, but I was 10 when I watched that (and hated it – could not understand why my friends liked it so much. I didn’t hate it really so much because it was scary, I hated it because I really could not understand what was going on, and the parts I did understand I thought were stupid).

    So i really was scratching my head here. I knew I was about 8 years old, so what could it have been. Well, I was about 8 when I saw Alien and Aliens, so surely that had to have been it.

    But this didn’t seem right either. I saw that at my uncle’s house, and I don’t remember him asking my mom about it, which means I had to have seen an R rated movie before then.

    So I was racking my brains about this. What could it have been? I am sure it was something I had to have watched with my parents when I was probably between 4-7 years old. I think I finally figured it out. I think it was The Blue Lagoon. This makes sense, it pretty much got its R rating from full frontal nudity, and even then, it was pretty tastefully done.

    So that is what I am going to go with – my first R rated movie was The Blue Lagoon

    • William Henley

      Oh, as I was 6 or 7 when I saw The Blue Lagoon, it didn’t bother me. I did not see it again until I was 32. If I had of saw the movie when I was like 11 or 12 or so, that would have for sure have corrupted me – I probably would have worn out the tape.

  15. Jon

    My parents let me watch Alien when I was 10. Then they let me watch Aliens. My dad forgot how many F-bombs were in that one so after that I couldn’t watch it for a year or so. First R in the theater was Heat, but I was 17 then so no big deal.

    • William Henley

      I was in college first time I saw an R rated movie at the theater. It was South Park Bigger Longer and Uncut

      • William Henley

        BTW, SPBLU introduced me to stuff even in college that I had no clue what it was.

        Stan: “Chef, how do you get a girl to like you more than any other guy?”
        Chef: “Oh that’s easy, you just got to find the c$%&oris!”

        Me: The what? What’s that? Well there is this new thing called Google that just came out, let me see if it knows. Why the heck is it returning porn?

  16. Mark

    When i was 4yo, while on a family vacation, my dad put on HBO to keep us occupied on a rainy day. Empire Strikes Back was on. loved it! when the credits finished, on came A Nightmare on Elm Street. movie scared the sh*t out of me. i watched the whole thing from another room peaking my head around the open doorway. that scene of the girl in the clear shower curtain being dragged down the hall, yikes. i had nightmares for months…maybe beyond thanks to that movie.

  17. Shannon: “which I’m pretty sure was my first exposure to female nudity”. You were born, weren’t you? 😀

    In Belgium, there’s no such thing as R-ratings. It’s just “KT” (Kinderen Toegelaten, children allowed) and “KNT” (Kinderen Niet Toegelaten, children not allowed). Under the age of 16, it’s KNT. I was never really interested in risqué movies, so I never had to beg to be let in, or even sneak in. The first KNT-movie I did see, at age 19, was ‘Ghost Ship’. Crappy movie, but great prologue.

    The R-rating for ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ is stupid, indeed. Nothing shocking about that flick.

  18. Bryan

    As a kid growing up in the early 80’s, we watched a lot of sitcoms. One of my parents’ favorite shows was Bosom Buddies (w/ Tom Hanks/Peter Scolari). My parents thought Tom Hanks was hilarious and decided that we’d all go see Bachelor Party in the theater – I was 11 or 12 at the time. Needless to say, they were a bit surprised at the level of content (guess they didn’t pay too much attention to the ads), but I enjoyed it! 🙂

  19. I definitely had been watching R movies at home before I actually saw them theatrically. I googled lists of Rated R movies starting with 1983 and couldn’t find anything until I got to 1986. I watched plenty of R movies in the theater that year. The Fly, Cobra, Raw Deal, Heartbreak Ridge, Maximum Overdrive, and Deadly Friend. Unless I overlooked something, one of those was my first theatrical R.

  20. Trond Michelsen

    This was a lot harder than I thought it would be. When Mike mentioned that Planes, Trains and Automobiles was R-rated, I looked up some of the comedies I remember from my youth, and they’re pretty much all R-rated: Beverly Hills Cop; Police Academy; Blues Brothers; Neighbors; Caddyshack; Vacation; etc. It’s like “funny” automatically earns a movie an R in the US. Anyway – I probably watched these on video, but I have no idea in which order.

    So… I think I’ll just be vague and say that the first R-rated movie I watched, was a funny 70-s or early 80-s comedy.

  21. Jakdonark

    I watched Blues Brothers in either summer or fall of 81, or spring of 82, and I’m pretty sure it would have been on Superchannel (Canadian HBO) having been in theatres not long before that, so it wouldn’t have been edited. I would have been three or four at the time and we had gone out of town and were staying at a motel so we had cable! I don’t remember the swears at the time, so it hard to say if that counts. I did remember the car chase in the mall though! I saw parts of Conan and Clash of the Titans at my Parents’ friend’s place in summer of 82. And although it wasn’t rated R, I watched almost all of poltergeist just after I turned 6. I made it to the part when the clown is trying to strangle Robbie. Then my mom said it was time for bed. The next day I asked how it ended. I said, did the bodies come out of the ground and pool? My mom looked at me like, “How did he know that?” In Summer of 84 we had a free preview of HBO or Cinemax and my mom and dad and I watched Moscow on the Hudson. I remember very clearly the topless bath scene. Haven’t forgotten that yet!

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