It was one of the biggest summer blockbusters of its era, Total Recall from 1990 with Arnold Schwarzenegger is a total blast from the past, it is sometimes violent, other times revolting, and it is awesome. Not surprising then that it is based on a hallucinatory head-fuck short story from the sci-fi visionary Philip K. Dick about not being able to trust the things going on in your own brain.

Directed by Paul Verhoeven, it starred Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role, with Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, and Michael Ironside. Loosely based on the Philip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”. The film tells the story of a construction worker who suddenly finds himself embroiled in espionage on Mars and unable to determine if the experiences are real or the result of memory implants.

The film was written by Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, Jon Povill, and Gary Goldman, and won a Special Achievement Academy Award for its visual effects. The original score composed by Jerry Goldsmith won the BMI Film Music Award.

The effects in this film may be dated, but they are still quite impressive, with its extensive use of practical effects, it often looks goretastic and eye-popping at the same time. Like the prolonged credit sequence, he immediately shuffles us off to Mars where we learn it might be a good idea to stay indoors and what would happen if we didn’t. Or like the one where he has to jam a probe up his nose to remove a tracking device, it is nastily entertaining for some reason.

Old lady disquise

In 1990, most of us were not savvy enough yet to think that a woman in an airport could unzip her face and — holy @&!# — Arnold Schwarzenegger would pop out. And there’s no real reason for Schwarzenegger’s robotic middle-aged-lady disguise to glitch out and scream, but it makes for a hell of a visual.