Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Total Recall (1990) Part 2

Click here for Part 1!

One of the guards activates security doors that seal off the windows, Doug running underneath one to get away from Ironside yet again. He boards a train and we get some SWEET views of Mars via some extremely detailed miniature sets. That's right, I said miniature sets! Hollywood actually used to TRY back in the day instead of relying on computers to create fake ass looking scenery.

Next we get the worst scene of the movie that I wish they'd have cut. Cohaagen and Ironside (who is finally named as Richter, but this late in he's staying Ironside) meet as we learn Kuato is a psychic who can access the information in Doug's head, but he has a plan to prevent this. That's it, that's the entire scene. Why do I hate this so bad? We'll find out in a bit.

Doug goes to a Hilton Hotel, as Hauser instructed. There he has a suite and a safety deposit box waiting for him, finding a flier for a club called the Last Resort inside. On the fact of the flier he finds a message in his own handwriting telling him to ask for Melina. He takes a cab to the club, getting to know its driver, the charismatic Benny who is definitely a scene stealer. Benny gives Doug a brief history lesson about Mars, as we learn it's full of mutants because they can't afford to buy Cohaagen's clean air and end up mutated by dirty air which doesn't filter out radiation... or something. This film isn't big on the whole science thing, but that's totally okay.

Inside the club we (and feel free to sing along if you know the words) get ANOTHER ultra-memorable scene and quite probably the MOST memorable scene in the entire movie as Doug meets Mary, the three breasted hooker. You know what's so great about this movie? How every scene you can just FEEL how much fun everyone involved in this was having. I'm not sure I can remember the last new movie I saw that felt this way.

Soon enough Doug gets to meet Melina, who just happens to be the woman from his dreams. She calls him Hauser, angry that he's still alive and didn't tell her. He tries to explain about his missing memory but fails pretty hard, so she pulls a gun on him and kicks him out.  Back at his hotel, Doug is alarmed to have someone knocking on his door and addressing him by name. He opens the door to find Dr. Edgemar, who was the man in the Rekall advertisement at the beginning of the movie. He tells Doug he's STILL in the implant chair, and everything that's happened has all been a malfunction of his memory implant.

Doug thinks this is bullshit, but then Edgemar opens the door to reveal Lori, implanted in Doug's mind just like him to try to talk him out of this deranged fantasy of his. Edgemar drops this little speech on us:

“What's bullshit, Mr. Quaid? That you're having a paranoid episode triggered by acute neurochemical trauma? Or that you're really an invincible secret agent from Mars, who's the victim of an interplanetary conspiracy to make him think he's a lowly construction worker?”

Edgemar holds up a red pill, and stop me if you've head this before:

“You have to want to return to reality by swallowing this pill, a symbol of your desire to return to reality.”. 

I'm not going to say the Matrix totally ripped off Total Recall, but the Matrix totally ripped off Total Recall. Science Fiction works the Matrix ripped off is a topic for another day though (there's way more than one!), let's get back to our movie.

Doug says if this is all true he could just shoot Edgemar and not really kill him. The doctor agrees, but warns him if he dies in his mind then there will be no one to talk Doug out of his delusion and he'll be lobotomized. After some actually pretty good acting where he looks at his wife and Edgemar, Doug puts the pill in his mouth.

But then he notices a single telltale bead of sweat rolling down Edgemar's face and he HEADSHOTS HIM! BOOM! All Hell breaks loose as the wall explodes and goons burst in, beating him up and subduing him. Lori gets in on the action and starts stomping the shit out of him, bitching at him for making her come to Mars. Melina comes to the rescue, annihilating the goons with a machine gun. This leads to a kung fu showdown between her and Lori because this movie is AWESOME.

Lori gets the upper hand, Doug pulling a gun on her. This leads to this classic exchange:

“Sweetheart, be reasonable. After all, we're married.”
Lori says as he goes to get a pistol hidden under her shirt.  Doug fires first.

“Consider that a divorce.”

You know, I think the reason there's no good action movies with awesome one liners in them anymore is because Schwarzenegger used them all up by 1992.  See, this scene is AMAZING as it really casts some doubt into your head at first about whether this movie is really happening or not. At least, it WOULD have been if we didn't have the scene with Cohaagen and Ironside earlier. While Cohaagen never says what his plan is out loud, it puts your guard up to be on the lookout for any kind of trickery involving Doug and gives away the Edgemar scene almost right away. But considering it's about the only thing the entire movie does wrong, I guess I can let it slide.

Melina reveals she came back for Doug because she's in the resistance and Kuato wants to meet him. Ironside finds Lori's corpse, and you can tell he's very broken up inside about it. GASP! Our villains aren't just one note cookie cutter bad guys? What madness be this! Ironside takes off in pursuit of the two, murder in his heart. Doug and Melina escape via Benny and his cab, leading to a claustrophobic car chase through the tunnels of Mars. I couldn't even imagine how much work they must have put into this scene, but I'm glad they did because it's pure art.

Benny ends up crashing his cab, the three escaping into the Last Resort where the club goers hide them through a secret passage hidden in the wall. Ironside enters, demanding to know where they went but no one will talk. He kills Mary in retaliation, as everything erupts into a bar room brawl shootout with mutants. Everything's better with mutants!

Cohaagen calls Ironside, telling him to evacuate the sector. He seems rather pleased by the news that Doug is now with the rebels. Cohaagen has the entire sector sealed off as he turns off the air, which will slowly kill everyone. Now here's my question: why didn't he do this in the first place way back when Kuato first started attacking him? The movie tells us NO ONE cares about the mutants besides the mutants themselves, it's not like he'd have anything to answer for.

The secret passage takes them through the tunnels under Mars as Melina explains Kuato will use his psychic abilities to help Doug remember things, including that he loved her. Doug says he doesn't need Kuato to do that as he kisses her and YIKES is this romance forced. Although it is kind of a cool inversion that this time the woman saved the man's life, so there's that at least.

They reach the rebel's base, where Benny is denied access until he reveals he's a mutant himself and is on their side. The rebels tell Melina the air has been shut off and everyone will be dead unless Doug surrenders to Cohaagen, which Doug agrees to but Melina wants him to meet with Kuato first.  Quick history lesson here: earlier I mentioned this film has originally in the hands of a different studio. The studio wanted David Cronenberg to direct it, and if you've never heard of him your life is severely lacking some of the most grotesque imagery ever captured on film.

He specializes in what is called “body horror”, creating movies that often deal with the horrors of body modification and infections and WOW is he a master at this. Keeping this in mind, guess the ONLY thing from his version of Total Recall that Verhoeven kept.  Kuato himself, of course, a horrible looking alien living in the stomach of one of the rebels. Kuato reads Doug's mind, as we get the image of the long hallways from the Rekall preview screen back in the beginning. Hmmm. This leads to a series of gigantic alien ruins inside the sealed Pyramid Mines, as we learn it's a giant reactor with a switch to activate it.

Cohaagen's forces use giant drill machines to invade the rebel base, scattering everyone. Benny reveals his true colours as he shoots Kuato, Ironside arriving to capture everyone. He takes them to Cohaagen, who must have failed his audition to be a James Bond villain so he takes this chance to reveal his entire master plan.

Hauser was his best friend, cooking up the scheme to turn himself into a mole to find Kuato. Doug points out the error in this plan as “you don't try to kill someone you're trying to plant”, but Cohaagen says Ironside wasn't in on the plan. Well... that's stupid because what if he HAD killed Doug? Same goes for Poor Man's Danny Devito and Lori, their first action was to try to kill Doug. This is one of those plans that completely falls apart the more you think about it, so let's just move on.

Doug and Melina are locked into implant chairs to have their memories erased, Ironside asking if Doug will remember any of this. When he's told the answer is no, he punches Doug in the face.  Ha!  The scientists start the process but Doug is able to break his way out of the chair and GLORIOUSLY murder everyone. This first cut the studio submitted to the MPAA was given an X rating, I imagine half of that was due to this one scene. This scene Out-Robocop's Robocop!

Over shots the mutants slowly dying from lack of air, Doug and Melina head towards the reactor as he explains it'll create air on Mars. Benny pins them down in a tunnel, driving one of the drill machines at them. Doug takes a nearby handheld drill and cuts the machine's fuel lines, incapacitating the giant piece of mining equipment. He then uses the drill to cut through the side of the machine and kill Benny, but sadly can't come up with a better quip than “SCREW YOO!”. Eh, they can't all be winners.

They reach the reactor, Doug explaining how it works. The core of Mars is a gigantic glacier that the reactor will melt and unleash the oxygen inside it to make an atmosphere.  I'm not what you'd call learned in the ways of science, after all I'm just a mild mannered zombie who watches a lot of movies, but I'm FAIRLY CERTAIN that's not how science works. Whatever though, it's time for another shootout between Doug and Ironside! Doug finally uses his hologram watch to fool Ironside's goons, getting the drop on them and shooting them into bits.

Ironside tries to escape on a lift, but Doug follows him for a sweet fistfight that is sadly lacking kung fu, but that's alright. Ironside gets in some pretty good hits, but ends up getting his arms torn off and thrown off the lift because this movie is AWESOME.  Doug makes it to the reactor's switch, which has an alien hand print carved into it. Before he can press it, Cohaagen steps out of the shadows with a gun drawn. However, Melina arrives on another lift and shoots him because that's how she rolls. Before Cohaagen dies he sets off a bomb he had set on the reactor, which Arnold grabs and throws away.

A bit too late though, as it blows a side into the rocky wall which starts sucking everyone out into the vacuum of Mars. Doug manages to press the button before he gets sucked out, the reactor slowly rumbling to life. Amidst some downright horrifying shots of Doug and Melina's eyes bugging out in the Mars atmosphere, the reactor starts shifting and moving parts which MORE than resemble more of the imagery from Rekall.

The glacier begins to melt, unleashing huge blasts of air all over the planet that save the mutants. This also saves Doug and Melina, although I am wondering how their faces aren't permanently disfigured because of how bad their eyes were popping out.  The air pours into the sky, forming storm clouds that give way to clear blue sky. Doug and Lori walk to the top of a rocky formation to take it all in. Melina says this feels like a dream, Doug wondering if it really is. She replies he better kiss her quick before they wake up, which he does as the movie ends.

Cue the credits.

If you couldn't tell, I rather enjoy this movie. Even after all these years I was an entertained as I was the first time I saw it. It's not perfect, but it's just so damn fun and so much love went into it that it's impossible not to be won over by it. Unless you're a super stuffy scientist I suppose, because this does give science a BIG OL' middle finger.

I still say all the non-Doug scenes prove this movie actually happened, but it's still completely up for debate when you factor in things like the Ego Trip, the comment about blue skies, and most damning of all: all the preview pictures at Rekall showing us things like Kuato and the alien reactor. Melina appearing on the Rekall monitor makes it highly questionable too, he did NOT give them enough information on his dream woman for them to be able to construct her as accurately as they did.

This is the mark of a great film though, giving something for its fans to discuss years after its release. And that is the highest praise I can give a movie: it's highly memorable IN A GOOD WAY and will stick with me forever. Will I be able to same the same about the remake?