For a while there, against all odds, manic Dutch provocateur Paul Verhoeven was handed they keys to the kingdom of Hollywood.
It’s difficult to imagine anything remotely similar happening now. Verhoeven came boiling up out of the Netherlands following a string of transgressive, sexually explicit, and controversial movies like 1973’s Turkish Delight and 1980’s Spetters and, having pretty much burned his bridges with Dutch funding bodies, decamped for the U.S., where he overcame his initial disdain for what he considered a stupid title to make the stone cold cyberpunk classic, Robocop (1987).
For what could have been – and in different hands, would have been – a cheap genre schlocker, Robocop was a smash hit. Like 1984’s The Terminator, it transcended its budget and perceived box office destiny, raking in big bank, indelibly putting its stamp on the pop culture firmament, and launching an ill-advised franchise.
Nobody was more surprised than Verhoeven, who had chafed under censorship restrictions that forced him to cut some of the more extreme violence from the film (the difference between the OG release and the Director’s Cut is profound). For his next Hollywood at-bat, he decided to pull out all the stops, teaming with the biggest action star in the world to make the most violent blockbuster imaginable. And that, folks, is how we got Total Recall.