I tend not to post a lot of concept art for movies, because in general, that stuff is much more about execution than it is about imagination, but when it’s concept art for a David Cronenberg-directed Total Recall that never got made, I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING!
My wife and I both worked for nearly a year on the David Cronenberg version of Total Recall. At Dino DiLaurentiis’ studio outside Rome, we worked under the direction of the brilliant production designer, Pierluigi Basile. I produced scores of drawings and paintings while Judith created models of sets and spacecraft, mostly of paper and balsa wood.
What did eventually make the screen was much closer to what screenwriter Ron Shusett had originally imagined… less like the Philip K. Dick story, “I Can Remember It For You Wholesale”, that the screenplay was based on — and which was what Cronenberg wanted to do — and more like an over-the-top adventure.
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.
So there were already carefully-laid-out plans for a glowing Mars Kuato vagina sphynx, and instead we got a PG-13 Recall set entirely on Earth? I hate you so much, Hollywood.
…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!
Verhoeven’s version is a classic, but it’s just as fun to imagine what a Cronenberg version would’ve been like. Whose Philip K Dick adaptation is more gleefully gory, Cronenberg or Verhoeven? is kind of like one of those what-if-a-tree-falls-in-the-forest kind of questions.
More Pictures and descriptions at i09.