Twenty Facts About Total Recall (1990) –Including a Lobotomy– That Might Just Blow Your Mind!

What’s an article about the 1990 action/sci-fi/horror/thriller (the 2012 ‘reboot’ doesn’t really matter; I’m mainly including the year of release for clarification) doing on Horror Boom, you might ask? Well, the photo from the climax of Total Recall  used in the “featured image” above was on the cover of Fangoria in early summer 1990 (with better photo quality;  if either of us had the time and energy, we could dig through our storage area, find the hard-copy Fango magazine archive and post a photo of that, but we’d have to really  apply ourselves). Based on that horrifying Fangoria cover, the photos inside the issue, the fact that Rob Bottin did the EFX, and some really freaky things that were described but not pictured, I put it on my must-see list and did indeed see it in the theater. I was very entertained, and certainly not let down at any point. Oh, and as far as the horror factor- I’ve heard from dozens of younger fans that saw it when they were a kid and still recall having some pretty vivid nightmares. Cross-genre? Yes. Devoid of horror?  Shit, no!

Douglas Quaid: Ever heard of Rekall? They sell those fake memories.
Harry: Oh, “Rekall, Rekall, Rekall.” You thinking of going there?
Douglas Quaid: I don’t know, maybe.
Harry: Well, don’t. A friend of mine tried one their “special offers,” nearly got himself lobotomized.
Douglas Quaid: No shit?
Harry: Don’t fuck with your brain, pal. It ain’t worth it.

That actually turns out to be pretty good advice. We re-watch Total Recall  every so often; it’s still a great popcorn movie, and elaborate, often gruesome practical effects still hold up just fine. I’m not sure how one’s eyeballs (the rest of their faces didn’t look so great either) can pretty much get back to normal less than thirty seconds after being exaggeratedly bloated up from oxygen deprivation, causing them to pop about as far out of the eye socket as they can without completely exiting your skull (Schwarzenegger’s and Rachel Ticotin‘s characters were seconds away from looking like the hideous guy in the featured image) , but we’re not complaining, it’s a great effect.  To this day, though, that and the scene earlier on where Schwarzenegger somehow wrenches a tracking object that was implanted in his head, almost to eyeball level (roughly the size and density out of an extra-large gumball)  of his nasal cavity* while making horrible pained grunts still makes us wince.

SPOILER ALERTS for the 1990 movie are all over the place after the link below…

Mindhole Blowers: 20 Facts About Total Recall That Might Blow Your Mind.(


Apparently not only did I miss the fact that the ending of the movie is not quite as storybook-happy as it seems, I missed the fact there was any ambiguity about the ending or even a discussion taking place. However, the facts speak for themselves after doing my research, and now everything that seemed a little unrealistic (such as being about to shriek for over a minute without any air in your lungs), or too perfect, makes perfect sense in light of what really  happened.  If Verhoeven says the lobotomy scenario was the real, intended ending, I’ll side with the director of the movie on this. Plus, this movie has enough borderline headache-inducing mindfucks in it already without going back and forth on it for months… though I very much respect the fact it’s still open for discussion among fans, writers, geeks, and critics alike after over two decades. Oh, and the dream/lobotomy scenario explains the two lead character’s faces going back to normal–their eyes weren’t even the least bit bloodshot  seconds after– that they can share a romantic, picture-perfect Hollywood kiss until that light in the background spreads to fade the entire screen to white.

I remember this hooker whose image probably made most of the males who saw it wish they had three hands pretty well...

Most people who saw the movie remember this hooker, and if they are male, also wishing they had three hands.

I also wish they would put out a restored edition, with all the graphic violence they had to censor to avoid an X-rating put back in. OK, it wouldn’t be an X-Rated version of Total Recall, as cool as that sounds, it’d be Unrated, NR, NC-17, of more likely released as “Special Director’s Cut” these days. I’d still go out of my way to see it.

Screen shot 2013-01-12 at 2.03.03 AM

I actually repressed this horrifying character’s image until I re-watched the movie today, though.

Check out the linked article above for more facts that might blow your mind. Unless you wrote the article (or a similar one) I’m guessing more than a few of them will probably surprise you.

Screen shot 2013-01-12 at 2.55.07 AM

We do NOT own the rights to this image (or any images in the article) of Arnie from Total Recall. Gee, I wonder why some kids who saw it had some slightly disturbing dreams?

*IN YO FACE, CGI! The practical effects in this 1990 movie are amazing. Oh, I know there’s digital FX in the movie and composite shots (though I don’t think composite shots, especially the way they were done back then, qualify as digital). I’m just saying that Total Recall’s  practical FX, much like Bottin’s practical FX in John Carpenter’s The Thing  and almost all of The Howling,  to name a few, hold up to this day without looking phony (unless you’re seriously jaded). I’m not totally anti-CGI, but my belief is: only use it when a practical effect isn’t possible.

So, What Do You Fellow Horror Fans Think?

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