Monday, July 26, 2021

Camp Carolco: TOTAL RECALL

 by Adam Riske

10 things about one of Arnie’s finest.

1. Paul Verhoeven movies make the world a better place.

2. I wish Rekall existed, especially during 2020. I would have gone to Mars in a heartbeat.

3. Before I ever saw the movie on cable (or maybe VHS? I can’t remember), I was obsessed by some of the imagery and dialogue in the trailer. There used to be a trailer show on Cinemax (?) that played previews for current and upcoming releases. Throughout Spring and Summer 1990 I had a loop in my head of “Get ready for a surprise!,” Johnny Cab, Benny’s mutant arm, and “Consider that a divorce!”
4. I go back and forth if I believe the whole movie was Quaid’s memory implant from Rekall or real. I’m sure this has been definitively answered somewhere already (maybe in the source material written by Phillip K. Dick) but I prefer the interpretation that it was all a dream. It feels more evocative and satisfying that way.

5. Arnold Schwarzenegger might be the best actor of all-time at delivering one-liners. He knows just the right timing and inflection. My favorite in Total Recall is when he shouts, “See you at the party, Richter!” at Michael Ironside. He sort of rushes the line, which is just the right way to go since Richter is falling to his demise. You want to make sure he hears it all of it, ya know? I pray that Schwarzenegger was at the premiere of Free Willy in 1993 and met that movie’s star Jason James Richter on the red carpet so he could have said to him “See you at the party, Richter.”

6. If I were Marshall Bell (who plays George/Kuato) I would be doing Kuato photo ops at conventions. It seems like a real missed opportunity if he’s not doing that already.
7. Venusville seems lame. If I had a gift card from there, I would probably be holding onto it for a long time. That place needs Kit from Pretty Woman.

8. I love love love the score by Jerry Goldsmith, especially the music for the main title (“The Dream”) and the theme he put together for when Arnold arrives in Venusville (“Mutant Dancing”).

9. I’ve never seen the Total Recall remake with Colin Farrell. Should I even bother?

10. I don’t know why but I remember that the night Total Recall opened in 1990 that I really wanted to go to the movies to see that or Back to the Future Part III, but instead I stayed home and watched the TV Movie Mother Goose Rock ‘n’ Rhyme on The Disney Channel, which starred Harry Anderson, Brian Bonsall, Bobby Brown, Shelley Duvall, Art Garfunkel, Terri Garr, Woody Harrelson, Debbie Harry, Cyndi Lauper, Cheech Marin, Howie Mandel, and a fucking terrifying Little Richard. This movie scared me at age 8 but I kept going back to watch it again and again whenever it was on TV. I kinda want to rewatch it right now. Is it available anywhere? (Checking) IT’S ON YOUTUBE!!!

See you next time when we gather back around the campfire to talk about another Carolco release!


  1. 11. Its also worth mentioning a little bit about a few of the Screenplay authors. Dan Obannon and Ron Shussett. Ive recently been digging a bit into Obannons early history. Dan attended USC with John Carpenter and they co-created a student film turned theatrical release Dark Star. Dan went on to spend several months in France helping support Jodorowskys Dune which fell thru. He returned to the states low on cash and crashed with Shusett. Shusett said he had the writes to the Philip K Dick story "we can remember it for you wholesale" (the basis for Total Recall) and Obannon said he was working on a story about space miners encountering an alien. They focused on Dans first which became Alien. Later they reteamed for Total Recall. Dan is DEFINITELY a name that should be on film nerds radar. He's behind some classics. He's also a pretty interesting individual in interviews...he does not pull punches and has stories filled with cynicism and often anger against producers or co-writers who did not adopt his material as he believed it should be. This includes Total Recall where he believes the first 2/3rds of the movie are a faithful adaptation of his vision but felt the last 3rd was not good at all.

    1. The first film I think of when encountering Dan O'Bannon's name is The Return of the Living Dead, which he co-wrote and directed back in the mid-1980s. It is one of the best zombie films ever made. O'Bannon's complaints about screenwriting are very common in that trade. Few scripts ever make it to the screen with the original vision of the writer(s) intact.

    2. Great addition @A-Casual-Listener! That movie is an ALL time classic and one of the very very FEW movies that finds a perfect balance of horror/comedy. In my research for Dan i was completely surprised to see he not only wrote but directed it! He should have done more directing!

      One more to note for Dan: he was a writer for the batsh#t crazy (pun intended) movie Lifeforce.

  2. 12. For the longest time David Cronenberg was attached to direct this adaptation of "Total Recall" before bowing out, clearing the way for Verhoeven. Can you imagine Cronenberg's version of Quato or of Quaid emerging from within the "Two weeks" lady? Talk about traumatizing body horror! 🤯🥵

  3. Total Recall is among the smartest blockbusters ever made. It is one the few that can be enjoyed on a cerebral and a visceral level simultaneously. I am more in the "It's a dream" camp. I have FThisMovie! Fest 2020 to thank for re-introducing Total Recall back into my life, and the Blu-ray is now in my collection.