Anniversary: RoboCop

By Cat Eldridge: Thirty-four years ago, RoboCop premiered in American theaters. The film was conceived by Edward Neumeier while working on the set of Blade Runner, and he developed the idea further with Michael Miner who he wrote the script with. They approached Paul Verhoeven who wasn’t at all convinced that he want to direct it until his wife convinced him to do so. 

The Executive Producer was Jon Davison whose previous genre experience was on Twilight Zone: The Movie as associate producer (segment 4) and producer (segment 3). Verhoeven would later use him on RoboCop 2 and Starship Troopers as Producer.

Cast included stars Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Daniel O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, and Miguel Ferrer. It’s got a lot of what I’ll call stunt casting: Verhoeven is in it as a dancing nightclub patron, Davison provides the voice of ED-209, and Landis has a cameo in an in-film advert. Smith’s partner Joan Pirkle appears as Dick Jones’s secretary. Talk show hosts Mario Machado and Leeza Gibbons portray, errr, news hosts Casey Wong and Jess Perkins. 

RoboCop’s extreme violent content made it difficult to receive a desired R rating. Verhoeven did cut several scenes including making Murphy’s death scene far less gruesome, but refused to remove the scene of Emil being disintegrated by Boddicker’s car. (Shades of Toxic Avenger?) (Actor Paul McCrane as Emil wore a full prosthesis over his upper body to give the appearance of his skin melting.) 

The RoboCop costume took six month to design going through some fifty versions and there were a number of them used in filming weighing up to eighty pounds. Designers say they were heavily influenced by robots of Metropolis and The Day the Earth Stood Still

The film spawned an entire franchise. There were three original RoboCop films, two with Weller. There would be a reboot. There would be two tv series, RoboCop and RoboCop: Prime Directives, plus two animated series, RoboCop and RoboCop: Alpha Commando. And there’s been many comics including some superb ones by Frank Miller.

It was nominated for a Hugo at Nolacon II which was the year that The Princess Bride won. Cuteness over extreme violence gets the most votes? Who knew? 

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One thought on “Anniversary: RoboCop

  1. “…the scene of Emil being disintegrated by Boddicker’s car.”

    I always think of that shot as “the watermelon scene”. (As in the watermelons in comedian Gallagher’s act.)

    Great music, too.

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