Thursday, February 24

Death Wish II (1982) - 1982 R-Rated Warner Home Video Clamshell

Much like Red Scorpion, the history around Michael Winner's sequel to the 1974 classic is more interesting than the film itself. According to Bronson's Loose! The Making of the Death Wish Films by Paul Talbot, screenwriter David Engelbach basically found Bronson's house using a Hollywood Map to the Stars and had the brass balls to actually walk up to front door unannounced to present the actor with his finished script in-person. Bronson understandably freaked out and cast off the prospects of a Paul Kersey return. That is until an offer of $1.5 million to reprise the role and Winner deciding to direct (after producer Menahem Golan of Cannon Films stepped aside) convinced the icon to return to the trademark role.

After Death Wish II was in the can, it faced the wraith of both the MPAA and BBFC ratings boards. The film's two brutal rape sequences were the primary aim of the censors and they were extensively edited along with Kersey's daughter's fence impalement suicide to avoid an X rating in North America. Every home video release including this initial Warner Home Video clamshell has been the MPAA version.    

The BBFC were even harsher with the board's director James Ferman publicly relishing over the edits to the anger of Winner (watch the priceless video below). Even with the cuts, the film was granted an X rating in Britain with nearly four minutes of trims. Even the European DVDs, barring the still edited U.K. disc, that feature all the violence and uncut rape scenes aren't fully uncut. An almost mythical Greek VHS featuring a workprint with all the nasty stuff, much of the television edit filler material, and three short dialogue segments unseen elsewhere is the most complete version released to date.

Another interesting tidbit is that it's been long rumored Jimmy Page's rare score contains much of the rejected pieces the Led Zeppelin guitarist originally composed for Kenneth Anger's short film, Lucifer Rising (1972).


combustion07 said...

Great post! Love the Death Wish series.

Max Dropout said...

It's nowhere near as good as the original, and it doesn't come close to touching the third one's absurdity, but there are moments that come close. The last heavy's drug freak out moment where he kicks police ass over the street is pretty hilarious. And then there are a few legendary Bronson lines that make this one worth seeing regularly. Need to read that Bronson book! you dare tread upon the staircase?

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