It’s with heavy heart that I inform you a new RoboCop film is in theaters and it’s been sanitized to the point of destruction with a PG-13 rating. If you’ve seen the first, you know what a brilliant, Grand Guignol piece of filmmaking it is, and you’re also aware that you can’t possibly remake it with a film for the kiddies and honor the spirit of the original.
So today, we’d like to look back on the sci-fi masterpiece from director Paul Verhoeven with these 25 RoboCop Facts You May Have Missed. A serious hat tip to IMDb on these. While we can quote about every line from the movie, there were several trivia gems we didn’t recognize (and several we did). Here are some of our favorites.
In the attempted rape scene, writer Edward Neumeier originally had RoboCop shoot past the victim’s cheek, hitting and killing the rapist. While getting ready to shoot the scene as scripted, Paul Verhoeven notice how Donna Keegan’s (playing the rape victim) legs were spread apart, giving him the idea to have RoboCop shoot between her legs and shoot the rapist in the genitals. Neumeier loved the idea and that was how the scene was shot.
The RoboCop suit was the most expensive item on set. While the price range varies, the producers indicated that they spent anywhere between US$500,000 to US$1 million for the suit.
Concerned that various police forces would object to the scene of the title character throwing Clarence Boddicker through glass while reading his rights, the producers had a preliminary screening for an audience of police officers. It turns out that they were delighted at the sight of the hero getting tough with a wanton murderer in a way that they couldn’t.
The RoboCop suit was so hot and heavy that Peter Weller was losing 3 lbs a day from water loss. Eventually, an air conditioner was installed in the suit.
Former President Richard Nixon was hired to promote the home video release for $25000, he donated the money to the American Boys Club.
The repeated line ‘I’d buy that for a dollar!’ comes from Cyril M. Kornbluth’s short story ‘The Marching Morons’, which presents a similarly cynical view of an over-commercialized future that’s desensitized to violence and war. A radio game show in that short story uses the line ‘I’d buy that for a quarter.’ as its signature phrase.
Ironically, 27 years later Detroit did actually file for bankruptcy.
The scene where Boddicker’s gang tortures and finally murders Murphy was heavily edited in order to avoid an X rating. In the theatrical version, it is clear that Boddicker has blown apart Murphy’s right hand with a shotgun blast, and Emil then blows off his left arm at the shoulder with another shotgun blast, but the explicit gore is limited in those instances. There is also reduced gore when Boddicker blows Murphy’s brains out with a handgun. The scene with all of the original dismemberment is included in the DVD.
The hostage scene where a former city council member holds the mayor and his staff hostage was based on a real-life crisis where former San Francisco supervisor Dan White wanted his old job back. The character is also seen eating Twinkies – as homage to White’s 1979 conviction of involuntary manslaughter where diminished capacity was used, known in legal terms as the Twinkie Defense.
After Peter Weller complained about the costume during the first few days of filming, the part of RoboCop was offered to Lance Henriksen, who turned it down due to time conflicts – Henriksen was also considered for the title part in The Terminator (1984) (before the cyborg was decided for to be large and bulky and Arnold Schwarzenegger was brought on), and finally got to play a robot in Aliens (1986) (see also trivia for The Terminator (1984)).
Edward Neumeier came up with the idea for RoboCop after he had helped out on the set of Blade Runner (1982), which was about cops hunting robots that looked like humans in the future. Intrigued, Neumeier turned the scenario around into a future where a cop looking like a robot would be hunting human criminals.
Kurtwood Smith originally auditioned for the role of Dick Jones, and when he first learned he had been cast, he thought that was the role he had gotten. Not until later did he find out he would be playing Clarence Boddicker. Later still, he discovered the reason: being Dutch, director Paul Verhoeven had grown up near the Holocaust, and thought that, when wearing glasses, Smith resembled Heinrich Himmler. Smith apparently agreed with the idea, stating that a bigger, more menacing villain would come across as someone who could merely be outsmarted, while his character’s glasses made him look smarter and therefore more of a threat.
For a while, Michael Ironside was attached to the role of RoboCop, but they had to give up on the idea when they realized that the actor would have to have a much smaller frame to fit into the costume envisaged.
The Desert Eagle Magnum that is in the OCP Board Room was originally intended to be Robocop’s gun. There is even existing behind-the-scene photos and footage of Peter Weller practicing with the Desert Eagle. However, when they gave Weller the gun, they noticed that even the bulky Desert Eagle was too small in the hands of Robocop. So the film’s armory supervisor, Randy E. Moore, brought in a Berretta Automatic Pistol to which a compensator and decorative dressing was added to increase the size of the gun.
The special-effects were generated with an Commodore Amiga computer.
Before Peter Weller was cast, Rutger Hauer was another actor in line to play RoboCop. However, it was decided that he was too large to fit into the costume. Weller won the role because of his slender frame and the expressiveness of his lower face.
Tom Berenger was in talks with director Verhoeven about playing the lead role of RoboCop.
Kurtwood Smith’s wife, Joan Pirkle, has a small role as Dick Jones’ secretary, Barbara.
David Cronenberg was one of many directors who was offered and subsequently turned down the position. Ironically, Peter Weller played the lead in Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch (1991), in which Weller appeared in lieu of reprising his role in RoboCop 3 (1993).
Peter Weller and Nancy Allen actually share the same birthday – June 24.
According to Paul Verhoeven’s commentary on the Criterion Edition DVD, an additional Media Break was filmed and completed for the film. Most notably, it featured footage of Lewis hospitalized and recovering; assuring the audience that she did not die, nor would she become “Bride Of Robocop”, as many speculated.
Paul Verhoeven: [religious imagery] RoboCop is seen walking on water near the end of the film. Verhoeven has stated that he sees the character as a futuristic version of Christ. Additional references include the gunshot blast to Murphy’s hand as Jesus’ hands being nailed to the cross, the bullet to Murphy’s head seen as the Crown Of Thorns, and Boddicker’s blood at the climax of the film turning the water red, like wine.
This was the second time that Kurtwood Smith killed Miguel Ferrer in a movie. The first was in Flashpoint (1984).
One scene that was scripted, but not featured in the film is a fourth Media Break sequence in which Brixby Snyder, a parody of Benny Hill whose running line is ‘I’d buy that for a dollar!’, is forcibly arrested on allegations of receiving sexual favors from under-aged co-stars. The scene would have taken place after RoboCop’s reply to The Old Man’s question, but the decision was made to instead end the film after Murphy’s reply. As a result, there is no dialog mentioning the names of Brixby Snyder or his program ‘It’s Not My Problem’ in the film.
Here’s the full list if you want more RoboCop (1987) trivia.