Ultra Violence & a very angry man: My love for Total Recall

Posted: July 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

There are films. You know this of course, you might’ve seen one or two of them in your time.

Sometimes these films are good, sometimes bad. Sometimes they’re the most amazing pieces of visual artistry that you will ever see and they will move you to tears, and sometimes you get Battlefield Earth.

But then sometimes you get films that are so bad, you can’t help but enjoy them and like to watch them again and again just to laugh at how poor it is but you thoroughly enjoy it every time. They’re generally referred to as guilty pleasures.

Total Recall is not one of these films, mainly because it’s awesome.

An explanation might be in order here then. Total Recall has been a favourite in this house for a while now. I can’t remember where it started but I’m assuming it had something to do with large quantities of alcohol and a lack of things to watch on TV. There’s something about the combination of story, acting, the fact it was made in the eighties and Arnie (I utterly refuse to type his surname; whos got the time?) that is truly magical.

You might think it’s rubbish, you may have a point. But then I’d want to throw a piece of Austrian oak at you and see that you got the irony as it bounced off your head.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a classic story of a man who dreams of going to Mars, but can’t afford it. He then hears that he can have a memory implant in his head that’ll make him think he’s been on a nice holiday, but he also has an optional extra that make him think he’s a spy and has a dream-like adventure. Unfortunately due to the fact that this is Arnie’s head, the implant knocks out all that was in there (which probably amounts to thoughts about guns, boobs and a monkey starching his arse) and unlocks the fact that he’s actually a spy in real life but he can’t remember anything else. So he does what anyone else would do and kicks the shit out of anyone who looks at him funny.

And that’s essentially it. From this point on the plot goes out the window and he just goes and get’s the biggest handgun I’ve ever seen and blows snooker ball sized chunks out of anonymous henchmen whilst trying to get to Mars to meet a girl and help some Jim Henson creations. Or something.

I never thought about the plot that much, it’s just waiting to get to the bits that you remember and cheering him on as he inexplicably manages to kick to people in the face at the same time whilst being held down. The film is an example of the eighties style ‘ultra violence’ that was popular in other films like Robocop and Scarface, which is so so over the top you can’t help but laugh at seeing someone getting his head blown off. Or in the case of one of Recalls most iconic scenes using a fake head to blow up other peoples heads. You know the one, right?

                                           An everyday occurrance in eighties cinema…
One of the key ingredients to making this film awesome is Michael Ironside, who plays the (almost) main bad guy Richter. I’m sure he’s a great actor, but this is one of those ‘have fun and get paid’ roles for him .

Richter is a very angry man indeed. The main problem is that he can’t seem to be able to shoot a man who is six feet wide and stands out like a giant ogre in a pub full of hobbits

                                Pulling this face for a two hour film deserves an award in itself

But it’s his pure fury (and to be honest I don’t think he even knows why he wants to kill him after an hour) that leads him to his down fall and possibly the most missed opportunity for a quip in cinema history.

Basically he get’s his arms ripped off by a lift. Arnie is left waving said arms and he says “See you at the party Richter!” This is an Arnie film. No arm quip? Seriously? This is the guy who shot a crocodile and said “You’re Luggage”


Which lead to the main attraction of Total Recall; Arnie Himself.

Lets face it, any Arnie film without him would be a straight to video affair. But eighties Arnie could do no wrong. His huge range of emotions he shows is without equal.

Actually he has two expressions, one of which is:

                                            How has this man never won an oscar?

He’s is without doubt, awful. When he’s supposed to be in pain he sound like he’s reading it straight from the script.

But that’s the charm of big dude. People didn’t want to see him act, they wanted to see him destroy things. And people. And dialogue. He was at the peak of his powers doing this film and it shows. The effects may look rubbish now, the music and script is terrible and the acting is not even phoned in. Faxed in would be more appropriate.

But it’s just perfect for what it is. You know the saying two wrongs don’t make a right? Well a shitload of wrongs apparently is what it takes it to make one of the most unforgettable and entertaining films your ever likely to see. It’s probably on ITV2 or one of the sky channels now. Go watch and enjoy.

Plus how can you not enjoy a film that gives you a moment like this;


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