Call this a consumer advisory. I stopped by the Blockbuster across the street from my apartment on Thursday night and rented the just-released DVD of French horror flick Inside. When it played at the Toronto fest last fall, Scott Weinberg raved about it, and I survived a memorable midnight screening at Fantastic Fest a couple of weeks later. As Scott said, it's well-crafted but incredibly brutal and violent. The Weinstein Co. picked it up and, as many of us suspected, a theatrical release was bypassed and it was sent directly to DVD, unrated, on their Dimension Extreme label. Scott's review was even quoted on the back of the box: "Unrelenting, brutal and stunningly violent."

Dimension Extreme has a "rental exclusive" deal with Blockbuster. I thought I'd save a few bucks by renting instead of buying. First problem: The rental version doesn't include the comprehensive 55-minute "making of" feature that a friend had recommended. Second (and even bigger) problem: the only version available at the store where I rented is the R-rated version, cut from 83 to 75 minutes. Blockbuster has long had a policy of "generally" not carrying films with ratings of NC-17 or X "in order to provide a wholesome environment for you and your family," as stated on their web site, but does carry some unrated films, which are designated as subject to their "Youth Restricted Viewing" policy, requiring parental consent. They did not actually cut the film, though: that comes courtesy of Dimension Extreme, which submitted an edited version to the MPAA and secured an R-rating "for strong bloody violence, gruesome and disturbing content, and language."

It's been six months since I saw the theatrical version, and I couldn't do a side by side comparison, but the R-rated cut does not appear to delete any scenes in their entirety. Instead, nearly all of the explicit penetration shots were cut, by which I mean all footage where sharp-edged weapons penetrate body parts. You don't see a woman get stabbed in the neck, for example, but you see the blood shooting out like a geyser from the wound. I lost track of how many times that happened, but it adds up to seven or eight minutes of footage carefully cut out.

What remains is still a blood-drenched affair, but anyone with a strong enough stomach to make it past the first two minutes will want the unrated version. Blockbuster Online claims to carry the unrated version, but one subscriber says it's the R-rated edition. I've learned my lesson: check the box first, accept no substitutes.