Before Paul Verhoeven cranked out Total Recall in 1990, producer Dino De Laurentiis approached David Cronenberg to direct the feature. The project never came to fruition because Cronenberg’s vision never coincided with De Laurentiis’. The two parted ways, Cronenberg went on to make The Fly, and Verhoeven made a movie where a woman has three boobs. Wins all around.
But the question of “What If?” is always fascinating, and we’ve never had a chance to see what Cronenberg was planning until now. Artist Ron Miller and his wife Judith Miller worked at De Laurentiis’ studio outside Rome, and the duo produced concept art and sculptures under the direction of production designer Pierluigi Basile (1982’s Conan the Barbarian). Ron Miller has now released some of the designs he and his wife created along with some details on how Cronenberg planned to adapt the source material, Philip K. Dick‘s short story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”. Hit the jump for more.
Here’s some of the concept art Miller supplied for his article on io9:
In his article, Miller says Cronenberg’s adaptation envisioned the movie as “an over-the-top adventure,” which was so different than Dick’s story that it “was proposed at one time that his version be filmed as a sequel!” So how did Cronenberg’s adaptation differ from Verhoeven’s also-over-the-top adventure? According to Miller:
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!’
Congratulations. Today is the day where you first read the phrase “phosphorescent vagina.”
After reading this and seeing some of the concept art, it’s tough to decide if Cronenberg’s version of Total Recall might have been better than Verhoeven’s, but one thing is for sure: they both look far more wild and imaginative than what Len Wiseman has planned for this summer’s remake.