Here, at the eve of Len Weisman forever murking the pristine vision of Paul Verhoeven with a “reimagining” of the sci-fi classic Total Recall, comes a behind the scenes look at what may have happened if the original production had continued under the scrutiny of one of the first choices for director — David Cronenberg.
Yes friends, the man who had given us Videodrome, The Fly and The Dead Zone had for some time worked on what would ultimately become Verhoeven’s film.
According to author and illustrator Ron Miller, he and his wife Judith produced scores of artwork for what was then Cronenberg’s production — Ron with drawings and paintings, and Judith with models — under the guidance of production designer Pierluigi Basile.
As Miller has it, Cronenberg’s vision for the film was quite different than what eventually made it to the screen — so different, in fact that it was proposed that his film would be a sequel to the original Philip K. Dick story upon which Total Recall was based.
“What eventually became Pyramid Mountain in the Verhoeven version was originally a prehistoric Martian sphinx excavated from the Martian desert, and a good deal more screen time was have been allotted to Kuato, including an elaborate dream sequence where he morphed first into the sphinx and then into a kind of phosphorescent vagina. Cronenberg had some very Cronenberg touches, such as agents with guns hidden within their bodies, but absolutely my favorite idea of all those we came up with was to have camels imported from earth to haul freight across the Martian deserts. This would, of course, have been after significant terraforming had already been done…but not so much that the camels didn’t have to wear respirators!”
What follows is some of the Millers’ pre-production art:
Nothing at all against Verhoeven’s film (one of my all-time faves, by the way), but it’s a shame we never got to see this version of Total Recall.