August 6, 2020

This adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story slickly combines biting satire with a cartoonishly-entertaining Arnold Schwarzenegger action thriller. Total Recall also is editor Frank J. Urioste’s second of three collaborations with Dutch director Paul Verhoeven, sandwiched between RoboCop (1987) and Basic Instinct (1992).
 
Urioste recalls having dinner with Verhoeven near the Fox lot sometime after RoboCop released when Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver (then the star’s girlfriend) came into the restaurant. “Arnold and I knew each other [Urioste had edited Red Sonja and Conan the Destroyer] and I introduced him to Paul. Arnie literally picked me up out of my chair, put me in the next chair and sat down next to Paul. He told Paul that producer Mario Kassar had this project called Total Recall. ‘I will tell him that I will only do it if you direct,’ Arnold said.”
 
In the film, set in 2084, Schwarzenegger plays construction worker Douglas Quaid who goes for a virtual vacation with memories of the planet Mars, which may or not be real.
 
At one point he must escape through security checkpoints at a space port. “We know Quaid is on the run but we don’t know who he is here because he’s in disguise,” Urioste says. “We play with this a little, drawing attention to the woman (played by Priscilla Allen) but not explicitly directing the audience.”
 
The film’s villain, Cohaagen, enters into scene, but is positioned out of earshot of the woman’s strange behavior when she repeats the answer to a question from the security guard. “We show Cohaagen leaving the area,” the editor relates. “He half turns around three times. On the third we see the woman pulling her mouth wide open with her hands and in clear distress. Moments later there’s a crash zoom into the woman as realization hits home and he shouts, ‘That’s Quaid!’”
 
The climax to the scene is a special effect, one of several stunning examples in the film. The woman’s face opens up to reveal Quaid beneath. “That was probably the toughest part of the scene because a part of the effect didn’t work so well,” Urioste says. “We had to make it look fluid, so as the face is open and reveals Arnold – or rather a model of Arnold – we show him placing the face above his head and then cut to a shot of real Arnold who says ‘catch’ and throws the head at the guards. The ‘face’ never really stops opening but we sped it up to be fast enough for no one to notice.”
 
Recalling the end of the movie and another effect in which Schwarzenegger’s face is depicted contorting in the airless Martian atmosphere, he adds, “Paul says to me, ‘Let’s get this over with before the audience can really realize what they are looking at, before they get a chance to think about it.’
 
“We got to be such good friends and still keep in touch. On RoboCop we only ran dailies once a week and on Recall I’m not even sure we had dailies. He said, ‘It takes all my energy to get the performance,’ and trusted a group of us just to do our jobs.
 

Related Content

CinemaEditor Magazine 2nd Qtr 2024

CinemaEditor Magazine 2nd Qtr 2024

​Download PDF version CINEMAEDITOR 2nd Quarter, 2024 FEATURES - Masters of the Air- Frasier- Shogun- 74th ACE Eddie Awards EDITOR’S CUT - What’s New!- IAVA 2024- NAB Show- In Memoriam STOCK...

Cuts We Love: “The Matrix”

Cuts We Love: “The Matrix”

"The Matrix" Interview by Adrian Pennington, with Zach Staenberg, ACE, editor of "The Matrix"More...Explore Your Favorite TopicsEditFestTechnologyInterviewsMoviesNewsCinemaEditorMagTelevisionEditors On EditingInternationalAll Videos

Explore Your Favorite Topics

EditFest

Technology

Interviews

Movies

News

CinemaEditorMag

Television

Editors On Editing

International

All Videos