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Trivia / Total Recall (1990)

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  • Actor-Inspired Element: The concept of Quaid being a physically-buffed construction worker was suggested by Arnold Schwarzenegger himself (he did work as a bricklayer upon arriving in California...).
  • California Doubling: Much of the filming took place on location in Mexico City and at Estudios Churubusco. The futuristic subway station and vehicles are actually part of the Mexico City Metro, with the subway cars painted gray and television monitors added.
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  • Completely Different Title: Apparently translating the title was difficult, leading to things such as Voyage au centre de la mémoire in French-speaking Canada ("Journey to the Center of the Memory"), O Vingador do Futuro in Brazil and El vengador del futuro in Latin America ("The Avenger of the Future"), Desafio Total in Portugal and Spain ("Total Challenge"), Atto di forza in Italy ("Act of (Brute) Force"), Running in Hell and Hero of the Universe in China... And all of those are completely different from the original short story's, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. That's why in Romania, where foreign movies are subtitled not dubbed, they didn't even bother with a translation: the movie and the remake were both marketed as Total Recall.
  • DVD Commentary: The one for this film is particularly hilarious. For one, Verhoeven's Dutch accent, coupled with Schwarzenegger's Austrian accent, serve to make it almost unintelligible. Schwarzenegger's commentary consists almost entirely of making jokes about the three-breasted hooker and a grating tendency for stating the patently obvious ("This is me as a construction worker", "I used this guy as a Human Shield and then threw him down the escalator"). Verhoeven for his part has a Verbal Tic that leads him to end most of his sentences with "Izznit?" All throughout Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger have a running argument about the true meaning of the film with Verhoeven insisting everything after the visit to Recall being a fantasy and Schwarzenegger insisting it was real.
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  • Dyeing for Your Art: To get in shape for the movie, Sharon Stone pumped iron and learned Taekwondo.
  • Flip-Flop of God: Paul Verhoeven on whether the events of the film were real or all in Quaid's mind. He’s gone on record saying both interpretations are valid, only deepening the mystery. In the commentary, Schwarzenegger leans more to it actually happening, whereas Verhoeven leans more towards it being the ego-trip.
  • Hostility on the Set: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone allegedly didn't get along, which incidentally lends some Reality Subtext to the film.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Robert Picardo was voice of and facial model for the "Johnnycab" robot.
  • Missing Episode: To this day, the original X-rated cut of the film has never been made publicly available, officially or not, leaving the exact contents of it a mystery. Thus, it holds the dubious distinction of being the only Paul Verhoeven film to never be viewable uncut in any capacity (previous films were either released unedited or had their uncut versions included on home media).
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  • Missing Trailer Scene: In the film's trailer, when the space shuttle transporting Quaid to Mars lands at the Mars Federal Colony, a voice is heard saying "Welcome to Mars". However, that doesn't happen in the movie.
  • Production Posse: The movie features at least seven actors who appeared in other English language Verhoeven films, including Michael Ironside, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox and Dean Norris. Just for good measure, it is scored by Jerry Goldsmith, who also composed the music for Basic Instinct and Hollow Man.
  • Prop Recycling: Several customized Micro-Uzis that were previously used in The Running Man and Predator 2 appear here in the hands of some of Richter's goons.
  • Publisher-Chosen Title: Philip K. Dick's short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale became Total Recall.
  • Saved from Development Hell: Scripts had been kicking around Hollywood so long people thought the project was jinxed. Dino De Laurentiis owned the film rights and had tried to get the project off the ground twice in Rome and Australia. Originally it was less violent and more about the fantasy of taking a trip to Mars. Schwarzenegger was annoyed that De Laurentiis didn't offer it to him because he really wanted the part. Patrick Swayze and Richard Dreyfuss had been in the running to play Quaid but De Laurentiis ran into money troubles (not for the first time), so Schwarzenegger tried to persuade Carolco to bankroll the film and they bought it off him.
  • Science Marches On: In geology. Mars having an ice core turned out to be partially true.
  • Stillborn Franchise: There was also a sequel in the works briefly, before Carolco Pictures went out of business. The rights went to 20th Century Fox who eventually turned it into Minority Report.
  • Technology Marches On:
    • Although the film is set in 2084, an advertisement is seen for Fuji Film despite the fact that by the early 2000s, analog photography has been made all-but-obsolete by digital photography.
    • The videophones. Nobody seems to carry mobile devices. There's one scene where Richter and one of his goons are waiting for a call at a bar next to a videophone instead of being even closer.
    • While the giant, multi-panel flatscreen monitor in Quaid's house is still pretty futuristic by modern standards, every other monitor shown in the film is a CRT, a form of technology that quickly fell from fashion during the late 2000's, being replaced by flatscreen LCD monitors in the majority of western households and workplaces by the time the film's 20th anniversary rolled around.
  • Troubled Production: The Mexico City shoot was considered a nightmare for most of the cast and crew. Many cast and crew members got sick at one point from contaminated water (the only major members of the production who didn't get sick were Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had remembered being sick during the Mexico shoot of Predator and took special precautions, and producer Ronald Shusett, who would give himself B12 shots each day to avoid illness) and the air was so polluted that Schwarzenegger recalled having trouble breathing on most days.
    • Even after production on the movie wrapped up, the film faced difficulties in actually getting released: like Verhoeven's previous film, RoboCop, the film was initially given an X rating by the MPAA, one of the last films to be given such a distinction before the introduction of the NC-17 rating later that year. Because an X rating would've heavily limited the degree to which it could've been shown in theaters (thanks to the heavy stigma attached to it), the film had to be re-edited considerably in order to secure a more financially secure R rating, trimming down certain scenes and including alternate camera angles for others. Unlike RoboCop, however, the X-rated cut has never been included on any home video release after the fact.
    • In his autobiography, Arnold notes the film even had problems being marketed, as a badly cut trailer didn't help audiences know and get interested in the movie. Once he called Columbia Tristar's new presidents and asked them to watch both Total Recall and the preview, they agreed it was being undersold and started a whole new campaign, starting with a mysterious teaser, and awareness grew really fast, leading to a box office hit.
  • Uncredited Role: It is not known who provided the voice of Kuato, as the actor who provided the voice is not credited in the end credits.
  • Wag the Director: In the DVD Commentary, Paul Verhoeven said that for the love scene after Quaid wakes from his nightmare, he wanted Sharon Stone to show more skin, but she refused to do so. He settled for shooting the scene as it is shown, but mentions that he "got her back" while shooting Basic Instinct.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The late Christopher Reeve of Superman fame was reportedly attached to play Quaid at one point.
    • Nicole Kidman and Alexandra Paul were considered for Melina.
    • David Cronenberg was set to direct and did almost a year of work on the project before he left due to disagreements with the producers. He wrote a few drafts of the script, which were apparently even closer to Philip K. Dick's works than the final version, and introduced Kuato and the Martian mutants in the story as per his famous penchant for Body Horror. Cronenberg also wanted to cast William Hurt as the lead, and was displeased by the producers' decision to reimagine the lead for an action star such as Schwarzenegger. Ironically, even although he left the project, he would direct later a very similar and even more Mind Screw-heavy film in Existen Z.
    • Over 40 drafts of the script had already been written when Paul Verhoeven agreed to read the screenplay. Some of them depicted Quaid as a mild-mannered accountant (instead of a construction worker). Most scripts had a similar first half (Quaid visits Rekall and starts having altered memories), but they all varied widely in the ending. One of them even had Quaid discover that he was really an alien in human disguise.
    • Jeff Bridges, Matthew Broderick, Richard Dreyfuss, Mark Harmon, and Tom Selleck were considered for Quaid.
    • Cynthia Rothrock was considered for Lori. According to Rothrock, she found out years later that she didn't receive the part predominantly because some of her would-be costars were concerned by the prospect of being outshone by a female martial artist.
    • Kurtwood Smith turned down the role of Richter, as he felt it was too similar to his role in RoboCop (1987). So did Robert Davi, who played a similar role in Arnold's earlier flop Raw Deal
    • According to Lycia Naff, the original plan for Mary was four breasts, but once it was deemed Fan Disservice ("too bovine, like a cow ready to be milked"), they settled on the famous three breasts.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Benny's death scene was basically made up on the spot. That part of the script was being rewritten, but they already had props and make-up ready, so Mel Johnson Jr. suggested that they just wing it.

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