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.
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.
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.
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.
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.