Debate of the Day: What Was the First R-Rated Movie You Ever Saw?


When I was younger, it was a big deal for me to watch a rated R-movie. It involved a fair amount of sneaking, as my parents would never allow such a thing. It couldn’t be in the theater, at least not at first, because that was a whole other level of mission impossible shit.

Rather, it was on DVD, and I was on a MISSION to see Gladiator. The trailers were amazing, it was getting nominated for every award there was. I HAD to see it.

And so I did. At my friends house, after the thing came out on DVD (at least I think DVDs existed in 2000, right?), I watched it, and I had never seen anything like it.

This was when I was thirteen, and after leading a relatively sheltered media life where the most violent movies I watched were Jurassic Park and Independence Day, Gladiator was a new level entirely. Blood everywhere, heads rolling, I felt like I was one of the crowd, cheering every kill.

But buried inside was a rather excellent movie, and even at 13 I could appreciate that. It became one of my favorite films, not just for the gore, but for the quality, and it still is to this day.

So, what was yours? What sort of impression did it make on you?

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  1. I saw speed when I was about eleven then there was a draught until I was 14 and saw The Matrix. Needless to say Keanu Reeves, played a big role in my movie watching childhood and I’m still a big fan of his.

  2. I watched a couple on TV (like Gladiator and The Matrix), but rules at my house were strict and I didn’t see one for real until watching Collateral in theaters. It instantly (though not permanently) became my favorite movie, and I’m pretty sure it had a lot of import as far as my own creative side goes.

    It’s still a damn fine piece of moviemaking, though it honestly doesn’t figure heavily in my mind on a week-to-week basis anymore.

    ACTUALLY, I just checked and — though I’m leaving Collateral because it was the more seminal MOVIEGOING experience — I did go with a youth group to see The Passion of the Christ in theaters a few months earlier. It was honestly a bit much for me to stomach at the time, though I’ve come to regard it as a minorly flawed but otherwise strong movie.

  3. I can’t remember the first one, since my parent’s had a black box so I got to see everything when I was a kid, including a peek at the Spice Channel…

    However, the most memorable was when my brother & I were staying with our grandparents for the weekend. The grandparents had a dinner to go to and decided to let us rent a movie and get some pizza while we hung out at the house, which was awesome for us, because at the age of 10, who wants to eat food with old people? Since it was a simpler time we made a trip to Blockbuster and started our quest for the perfect “dude’s movie.” We decided on American Werewolf in Paris, but our grandmosther saw that the description on the back said that it was not only rated R, but also had brief nudity.

    We were told “No!” sternly and told to pick another movie. On our way back we saw From Dusk til Dawn on the shelf and when we checked the back of the case, instead of the standard description, it had Blockbuster’s stock “Come on in to Blockbuster!” message on the back.

    No rating. No description. Just awesomeness, all around.

    Since we knew what the movie was about, we just handed it to her and kept our mouths shut. She glanced it over and said, “Ok, but it’s not gonna be too scary, is it?” We quickly replied, “No! We’ll be fine!”

    Blockbuster: Helping kids trick their elders into letting them view chesticles since 1985.

  4. Terminator 2 when I was 10 in the theathers. I begged to see it and after my Uncle saw it himself he figured I was able to handle it. Smiled from ear to ear the whole time. One of my best memoires. lol.

  5. Terminator 2. My friend was a rebel and his parents didn’t give a shit about what he watched. I thought it was the coolest movie of all time. Could have been maybe eight years old. Don’t think it’s that bad either, there are a few swear words, but I had pretty much heard them all in school by then.

  6. Gladiator? God, I’m old. I’m not 100%, but I’m going to go with either Fast Times At Ridgemont High, or Aliens. They might have been on the same night. I wasn’t allowed to watch R-Rated films at my parents’ house even at 18, but I had a friend down the street whose older brother rented all the coolest stuff (on VHS, kiddies!) and I’d go over there for some life-altering teenage afternoons and evenings.

  7. hmm… hard to say with absolute certainty but I’m pretty sure one of the first I ever saw was The Terminator. From then on I have always been a huge Arnold fan.

  8. I honestly don’t remember exactly the first one I watched, because it was all around the same time (I was probably 7 or 8). My dad let me watch Robocop with him, which I believe was my first R-rated movie (I was also shown Aliens and Terminator around the same time). It was so awesome! Robots and ultra-violence, but it also tainted me. Now when I see violence on screen and it’s not bloody (r-rated), I tend to get bored.

  9. Rambo – first blood
    With a story almost identical to yours except swap 13 for 10 – DVD for VHS and Gladiator for Rambo, first blood

    I remember at the time that the film had reached legendary status at my school for being the most violent army film *ever* – then I watched it and was blown away by what a good movie it was

    then came terminator (same thing, legendary at the time for groundbreaking violence) alien and finally blade runner – all 4 remain my favourite movies

  10. I remember watching Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes and Sandra Bullock where a cop and criminal from 1996 run around getting tickets for saying fuck and shit in 2032. there was sex without touching and an over enthusiastic Wesley Snipes and Benjiman Bratt acting way crazy.

  11. Gladiator is probably the first R rated movie I fully viewed. I was about 10 at the time. I however do remember catching glimpses of Blade at my friends house while we were 8 or 9 years old.
    Thinking back I might have also seen Lake Placid around the same time, although I think it was rated 12 and up in my country.

  12. First Blood was the first R rated movie when I was fairly little, 4 maybe. I had 3 older brothers. I didn’t understand a lot of what was going on, like the Vietnam flashbacks, jeez. I even had a Rambo action figure, nothing like good old fashioned R rated children’s toys.

    When I was 7, I was able to watch Terminator 2. My brother’s made me turn my head away at the more brutal moments (blade arm to the throat). But that R rated film had the most impact. To this day it is hands down my personal favorite film, without a doubt. I probably watch it at least once a year, it truly never gets old. I also had plenty of Terminator 2 action figures.

  13. Glad to see a lot of movies on this list are Arnold and Sly movies (as well as Van Damme). Going along with that theme, I honestly can’t say which one I remember first. I watched A LOT of their movies as a child. The ones I can remember the earliest were:

    1. Terminator
    2. Predator
    3. Total Recall
    4. Robocop
    5. Robocop 2

    There were some more scattered action films that I remember seeing at 6 or 7 but didn’t care for them much (though I’d reconsider later)

    5. First Blood
    6. Terminator 2
    7. Conan
    8. Raw Deal
    9. Kickboxer
    10. Double Impact

    And of course there were other R-rated action films that I’d see as I grew up (either new ones during the 90’s or other classic 80’s action I hadn’t seen yet). I can still remember the audience laughing when I saw T2 in theaters at 7 years old. The part where Arnold shoots the security cop in the legs and tells John “He’ll live”.

    My parents didn’t care about the violence. Only if there was sex/boobs. Then I had to shut my eyes.

  14. Aunt let me watch Harlem Nights when I was 5. Beat that.

    p.s. The impression it left on me was that if a woman is ever able to beat me up, just shoot her pinkie toe off.

  15. Im like steve2 my parents didnt care about the violence in movies just the nudity and even then I watched my first sex scene with permission in a movie when I was in like the 5th or 6th grade…WOOhoo for JCVD Nowhere to Run babY! Yea the old man was an action movie nut so I got to see all those great 80 action flicks. I even remember watching Commando when I was young and I was born in the mid 80s.

  16. My first R movie was Titanic back in 1997. I was 7 and saw it with my mom and 6 year old sister. It’s actually the first R movie I saw in a movie theater. The first R movie I ever saw was when I was 6 or maybe 7… was Rocky Horror Picture Show…..Thanks Nana xD

  17. I was sheltered to the point where I couldn’t watch PG 13 until I was 10, and even then, it had to be the TV edit. Then something happened when we were watching Terminator 2. The kills were all edited and the dialogue was cut. I don’t remember what made us miss the end, so we rented the director’s cut.

    The moment the T1000 killed John’s foster father ended my childhood. That was the first r-rated kill I’d ever seen, and I was shocked and amazed. There was… blood?! And he got stabbed through the freakin FACE!!! Then he did it again to that cop in the mental hospital!!! THROUGH THE FACE!!!

    Pretty tame to today’s M-rated video games… hey, is that gonna be the next article? First M-rated (or equivalent) game you played?

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