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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr


Total Recall Total Recall
Inspired by the short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Phillip K. Dick
Screen Story by Ronald Shusett & Dan O'Bannon and Jon Povill
Screenplay by Ronald Shusett & Dan O'Bannon and Gary Goldman
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Released in 1990

A simple construction worker obsessed with the planet Mars makes some startling discoveries about himself.


Read the complete Total Recall movie synopsis at IMDB


Didja Notice?


The novel suggests that the Martian mountain Quaid and Melina look at in his dream is meant to suggest it is a buried alien pyramid. This may be the Mount Pyramid mentioned later by McClane as part of the standard Mars package at Rekall.


In the background at 5:12 on the DVD, a photo of Quaid and Lori can be seen on a bookshelf in their bedroom. 


At 5:22 on the same shelf, a sculpture of a can of Pepsi Cola pouring into a glass can be seen. The same sculpture is seen again on a shelf in the dining area at 7:27! (After Quaid's violent encounter with his wife, the sculpture is seen having been knocked to the floor at 26:22). I guess it's a Pepsi household because at 25:31 there are two real cans of Pepsi seen in the apartment, a regular and a diet.
Bedroom Pepsi Dining room Pepsi (over Quaid's shoulder)


At 5:35 on the DVD, Evian bottled water and Heinz ketchup can be seen in the kitchen as Quaid is preparing breakfast. Also, a bowl of nuts that was sitting to screen-left of the mixing bowl previously is now missing.


The news broadcast being watched by Quaid in the kitchen tells us that mining of turbinium ore is one of the primary profit centers of the habitats on Mars. Turbinium appears to be a fictional compound and its properties and usefulness are not explained within the film, though Cohaagen remarks that the Northern Bloc's entire war effort depends on Mars' turbinium. (The novelization specifies that the ore is essential in the Northern Bloc's particle beam weapons program.)


For breakfast, Quaid seems to have prepared some kind of homemade power-shake of spring water, wheat germ, nuts, and fruits. This may be intended as a slight nod to the fact that Quaid is so muscular (he's portrayed by professional-bodybuilder-turned-actor Arnold Schwarzenegger). The novelization seems to confirm this.


Notice that at 6:25 on the DVD, Lori turns off the news when she sees that the newscaster is talking about Mars and Cohaagen. Her action could be seen as enforcing her mission to prevent Quaid from remembering his past on Mars (if he really is a mind-wiped secret agent) or just a wife not wanting her Mars-obsessed husband to get any more ideas (if Quaid is really just Quaid).


At 6:55 on the DVD, Lori is looking at a Sharper Image catalog. At the time the movie was made, The Sharper Image was a retail brand that produced a monthly catalog selling unique electronic and gift items. The retailer went bankrupt in 2008 and the name is now licensed to be placed on products made by other companies. There is also a Sharper Image store seen at the Mars Hilton at 51:37 and in Venusville at 54:19.


After the news broadcast, a commercial comes on for the fifth game of the World Series on ESPN. ESPN is a real world sports cable channel. The commercial states that the game is taking place in Tokyo, Japan, where the Tokyo Samurais will face-off against an opposing team whose name can't be made out over Lori's dialog. There is no real world MLB team as the Tokyo Samurais at this time.


When Quaid asks Harry if he knows anything about Rekall, Harry tells him about a friend who went there and nearly got lobotomized and advises him not to go there, saying, "Don't fuck with your brain, pal. It ain't worth it." This could be a subtle reference to Hauser, whom we learn in the course of the story had the false personality of Quaid imprinted on his brain as part of his and Cohaagen's scheme and winds up not able to return when Quaid's personality proves too strong to give up his body. This also plays into Harry's "real" role as one of Quaid's watchers, trying to keep Quaid away from Rekall, where he might blow his secret identity as Hauser. On the other hand, it could point to Rekall's process being a dangerous one that could end with Quaid losing himself in the simulation.


At 11:25 on the DVD, Quaid looks up information on a computer screen labeled Proton. Proton is a defunct company that made monitor screens and other electronics at the time the film was produced. A Proton television also appears in the Rekall lab at 16:03 and on the subway at 31:49. Even Mars has Protons, as seen at 59:46. (The production must have gotten a bargain price on Protons!)


The cathode-ray tube monitor at the secretary's desk at 11:38 on the DVD dates the production!


The monitor screen that shows Quaid the details of the standard Mars package mentions a "personal tour guide to Mt. Olympus." This is a reference to Olympus Mons (Latin for Mt. Olympus) on Mars, the tallest mountain in the solar system.


At 13:44 on the DVD, there appears to be a can of Hills Brothers Coffee on the shelf behind McClane. Hills Brothers is a real world maker of packaged coffee.


While discussing additional memory options with Quaid, McClane remarks, "No matter where you go, there you are." This quote has been attributed to both Buckaroo Banzai and Confucius.


As the monitor screen flips through some alien options at Rekall, one of the images looks to be one of the four-armed green Martians from the Barsoom series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs featuring John Carter, Warlord of Mars.


Dr. Lull comments that the alien artifacts reportedly found on Mars date back a million years.


Dr. Lull refers to the condition Quaid seems to suffer from as a schizoid embolism. There is no such term in the real world, but it likely is meant to describe a psychological event (a personality/schizoid blockage/embolism) that Rekall has seen before; notice Dr. Lull says "another schizoid embolism" (emphasis mine). (The term may be based on the "psychotic interlude" alluded to in "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale".)


During Quaid's enraged "fit", why does McClane yell at Dr. Lull, "You can't do a simple goddamn double implant?!" What is "double" about it? If it's meant to suggest the implant of a Mars vacation over Quaid's memory, over the real identity of Hauser, then how does McClane now about that?


The Johnnycab voice is performed by actor Robert Picardo. And, unless I miss my guess, the artificial face of Johnnycab is modeled after that of Picardo as well. (PopApostle reader D. Cameron found an article at Hemmings Daily that confirms Picardo's likeness was used for the face of Johnnycab: The futuristic cars of Total Recall, behind the scenes)
Johnnycab Robert Picardo


According to the Production Notes on the DVD, the tune whistled by the Johnnycab robot is the Norwegian national anthem. 


The videophones that appear throughout the film appear to have been manufactured by Novatel, a company that has marketed electronic devices since the early 1990s.


If what Lori tells Quaid about their "marriage" at 26:04 is true, Hauser underwent the memory implant of Quaid six weeks ago.


Notice that at 26:57 on the DVD, Lori surreptitiously spots her backup approaching on the video monitor behind Quaid.


At 30:11 on the DVD, we can see that the tracker device used by Richter's men is made by Casio


Notice that at 30:39 on the DVD, Quaid uses a bystander who has been shot already by Richter's men as a human shield!


The instantaneous two-way communication seen between Richter and Cohaagen in the car shouldn't be possible. At the speed of light, communications between Earth and Mars would take several minutes each way. The novelization mentions that faster-than-light communication had been invented, allowing such exchanges.


As Quaid exits the subway station at 33:14 on the DVD, a neon billboard for Fuji Film is seen in the background, as well as signs for Coca-Cola and Philips Audio Video. 


At 33:25 on the DVD, Quaid appears to be headed for the Hotel Ritz. But the hotel room we see him occupy later does not resemble the luxury provided by the two real world Hotel Ritz locations in Paris and London. Presumably this Hotel Ritz is just a flophouse that has "borrowed" the Ritz name for itself.  


At 33:27 on the DVD, the license plate of Richter's car is visible. No state or country is indicated on it, simply reading:


JRP 601 


At 35:25 on the DVD, a billboard for Bacardi can be seen in the background. 


At 35:29 on the DVD, there is a USA Today newspaper machine in the background. At 52:40, there is a Mars Today newspaper machine, which also shows the slogan, "The newspaper of the universe"; the G symbol on the machine's support stand is the logo for the Gannett Company, which owns many newspapers, including USA Today.


At 35:32 on the DVD, a large video display for Sony Trinitron can be seen in the background. Trinitron was Sony's brand name for their premium color televisions of the time (now only used for Sony's video monitors).


As Quaid hops into the Johnnycab at 35:54 on the DVD, neon signs for Coors Extra Gold (now known as Extra Gold Lager) and Beck's Beer can be seen. Another Beck's Beer sign is in the window of the Last Resort at 54:20.


When the Johnnycab says, "Fasten your seatbelt," it's sort of a joke for the audience, indicating that we're in for a ride!


A neon ad for Peňafiel is seen above the mayhem at 36:40 on the DVD. Peňafiel is a brand of mineral water in Mexico (the subway and chase scene were shot in Mexico City).


In the briefcase, Quaid finds several ID cards under different aliases. We see two of them: a Pyramid Mines ID as Steve Leonetti; and an "operator's card" (possibly a driver's license) for James D. Brubaker of El Paso, TX.


When Quaid pulls the tracking device out of his nose, it makes a "pop" sound as it's yanked out of the nostril! Listen: pop goes the nostril


Hauser tells Quaid to check in at the Hilton Hotel when he gets to Mars. Hilton is a chain of full-service hotels across the world. Besides Mars, there is also a Hilton in Space Station Number Five (from the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey).


At 42:09 on the DVD, for some reason there is a Campbell's Soup can next to the cement block Quaid had been sitting at while he watched Hauser's message. There is also an old coffee pot laying next to it. I guess some vagrants had been living there or something. At 42:27 another soup can is laying on its side next to the "laptop viewer".


When Quaid is disguised as a heavyset woman upon arriving on Mars, the passport he presents is in the name of Priscilla Allen, the actual name of the actress!


At 45:26 on the DVD, Richter runs past some boxes labeled Northwest which show the logo of Northwest (Orient) Airlines. The logo changed from this one in 1989, probably around the time the film was in production.


Everett can be seen wearing a patch for the Federal Colonies, which appears to feature a representation of Mars with its two moons.


On the Mars train at 47:32 on the DVD, some wanted posters for Kuato can be seen on the wall behind Quaid, reading:




The man Quaid talks to on the train at 47:39 is actor Mickey Jones, who played Chris Farber on V.


The mountain outside the train window in the scene mentioned above is the Pyramid Mine and is the same mountain Quaid saw in his dream. The man he's talking to tells him they allegedly found "alien shit" inside.


At 50:39 on the DVD, there is a neon sign at the Hilton bar that says Coors Martian Red, obviously a fictional brew by the real world Coors Brewing Company (now Miller/Coors). The sign is also seen in the Last Resort at 55:20. The "Martian Red" name is likely meant as a play on the red coloring of the landscape on Mars.


At 50:59 on the DVD, the hotel clerk slides Quaid's Brubaker ID into a Sargent System 45 device. The Sargent System 45 is a real world product from the Sargent Manufacturing Company; it's actual use is making key cards in hotels.


The Identi-Guard thumb-print reader used by the hotel clerk at 51:14 appears to be a fictional device. 


At 53:43 on the DVD, in Venusville, there is a Curtis Mathes sign on a storefront behind Quaid. The Curtis Mathes Corporation is a real world retailer of electronic products and repairs. At 1:06:35, a Curtis Mathes television is seen as the elevator floor level indicator.


A Pepsi sign is visible in Venusville at 53:48 on the DVD.


Next to the window of the psychic business at 54:09 on the DVD is another wanted poster for Kuato.


A neon Jack in the Box sign is seen in Venusville at 54:17 on the DVD. Jack in the Box is a U.S. fast food chain.


Across the alley from the Last Resort is a restaurant called Mars Burger.


The Last Resort seems to have a lot of posters hanging behind the bar for both male and female wrestling events.


A neon sign for Miller Lite beer is seen in the Last Resort at 54:48 on the DVD. A sign for Miller Genuine Draft beer is seen at 55:47. 


When Quaid meets Melina, she recognizes him as Hauser and it's obvious they have a past together. She grabs him in the crotch and asks, "What you been feeding this thing?" to which he replies, "Blonds". This is a reference back to his sham marriage to Lori.


The wall-mounted lights in Melina's room at the Last Resort are reminiscent of the tri-chrome camera stalk of the Martians in the 1953 film classic War of the Worlds.
Light in Melina's room Martian camera eye from War of the Worlds (1953)


I don't know what is playing on the multi-set TV screen in the background at the Last Resort at 59:25 on the DVD, but there appears to be a robotic carnosaur on the screen! Later on in the film at 1:12:53, there is some kind of armored person or robot on the screen.


The wall art hanging above the bed in Quaid's room at the Hilton appears to be an abstract representation of Mars and its two moons, Phobos and Deimos. (The picture of a tower of some kind on the right-hand wall is more visible at 1:05:37 and the word below it is seen to read "Oldenburg", which may be a reference to one of two cities by that name in Germany.) Another representation of Mars and the moons is seen on the opposing wall from the bed at 1:00:08.


A very in-your-face Miller Lite sign is seen at 1:05:57 on the DVD. 


During Melina and Lori's catfight at 1:07:04 on the DVD, a Pepsi and water dispenser is seen on the wall behind Lori. Later, the second row of cans is seen to be Barq's Root Beer. The money changer can be seen to the left of the refrigerated case at 1:07:15.


At 1:09:18 on the DVD, crates can be seen moving along a conveyor belt along the cliff outside, through the window behind Quaid.


Using frame advance on the DVD as Benny's cab crashes through a small room at 1:11:18, the opposite wall can be seen starting to buckle outward before the car has even breached the first wall! This is an indication that the wall was rigged to be pulled down manually, at least in part, to allow the car to more safely appear to be buckling it.

A Best Western sign is seen behind Richter at 1:11:22 on the DVD. Best Western is the largest hotel chain in the world(s).


At 1:11:39 on the DVD, Coors Light and Hawaiian Tropic signs are seen. Hawaiian Tropic is a brand of suntan lotion sold around the world(s).


At 1:11:46 on the DVD, a neon sign for Killian's Red can be seen in the background. This is an Irish-heritage beer, currently brewed by Coors.


Thumbelina pulls a wicked-looking bowie knife from underneath a tabletop at 1:12:58. But just seconds later, the knife looks quite a bit smaller and is entirely gray (i.e. fake) as she runs towards Helm and guts him.


During the chaos of the massacre at the Last Resort, at 1:12:59 a female extra in the background can be seen smiling through it all!


At 1:13:03 on the DVD, bottles of Gordon's Vodka and George Dickel Whisky are seen. Both are real brands, though I don't know why the Dickel whisky appears to be blue!


At 1:14:37 on the DVD, a Fox Photo sign is seen in Venusville. Fox Photo was a chain of 1-hour photo processing stores across the U.S. from the 1980s through around 2001.


During Kuato's mind probe of Quaid, we see in his mind's eye Cohaagen, Richter, and two scientists walking through the alien complex inside the pyramid mine. Since Hauser is not present, it doesn't seem to be his memory, so how is Kuato able to see it? Has Quaid's mind somehow augmented Kuato's and given him enough clairvoyance to see a scene from the past?


During the mind probe mentioned above, one of the scientists remarks that if they turn on the device it might set off all the turbinium on the planet, causing a meltdown.


The scientists say that the alien device appears to be about 500,000 years old. That is also about the time that modern humans, Homo sapiens, diverged from our common ancestor with Homo neanderthalensis. Whether this is important in the context of the film is unknown, but given the potential trap of the alien mechanism as suggested in the novelization, it seems reasonable that the aliens may have built the machine and left the solar system at that time intentionally, in order to let the new species grow on Earth and see if they progress to using the device properly or destroying themselves with it.


At 1:22:31 on the DVD, there is a police-tape-like strip, rippling from the disturbance of the firefight, that appears to say 'Federal Colony'.


When Cohaagen's crew puts Quaid and Melina through the memory restoration process, why are they not sedated as they were when Quaid earlier went to Rekall? (In the novelization, they do receive sedation. Quaid is able to both fight it off and get the extra strength needed to pull his shackle from the chair due to the No'ui information implant that was reactivated during his mind-meld with Kuato.)


At 1:36:39 on the DVD, it looks as if the two groups of soldiers would be hitting each other with their gunfire when they're shooting at the hologram of Quaid.


At 1:45:44 on the DVD, there is a neon sign for Barq's Root Beer in the window of the Sleaze Bar. You'd think though, that a place called Sleaze Bar would serve something more potent than root beer!


Once the alien device is activated, it seems unlikely that it could pump oxygen into the atmosphere quickly enough to save Quaid and Melina from depressurization on the surface or turn the sky blue so fast. (In the novelization, Quaid's knowledge from the No'ui tells him that the atmospheric process is sped up in ways humans do not currently understand.)


Anne Lockhart is credited as an "Additional Voice" in the credits of the film. She is best known for playing Lt. Sheba on the original Battlestar Galactica


Unanswered Questions


The obvious unanswered question is whether Quaid's adventure was real or just part of the memory implant he receives at Rekall. Richter uses the title of the film "Total Recall" to describe the possibility that Hauser may begin to remember everything now that he has popped his Quaid memory implant. But if we imagine the title as "Total Rekall", using the Rekall brand name, it may be a clue that the whole thing is totally a dream, totally Rekall.


Evidence that it's real:
  At the very beginning of the movie, Quaid's dream features both himself and Melina on Mars. How could he be dreaming about a woman he'd not yet met? This is the strongest bit of evidence that Quaid is just a cover personality for the original man, Hauser, who met Melina previously as part of his undercover mission to infiltrate the Martian rebels.  
  At 7:27 on the DVD, there is an upside-down copy of The Widows Handbook on the shelf behind Quaid. The Widows Handbook is a real book, a guide for women who have recently lost their husbands and how to cope in the world anew. The fact that it has been shelved upside-down may be an indication that it was recently perused. Possibly, Lori has been reading it because she is forced to be separated from her real husband, Richter (if she is really a secret agent and not Quaid's wife).  
Evidence that it's a dream:
  At 15:56 on the DVD, Dr. Lull asks Quaid if he would like them to integrate some alien stuff into his spy scenario, to which he responds, "Sure, why not?" As the monitor screen flips through some alien options,  the final screen looks exactly like the alien oxygen processing device that Quaid activates near the end of the movie. Then she tosses a computer disk to her assistant in the procedure and he reads the label, saying, "That's a new one. Blue sky on Mars." These are all additional links in the chain of evidence that story we see is just a memory implant.  
  As Quaid describes the type of woman he likes, the computer builds the model on the screen. The final version is 41A, seen at 17:27 on the DVD...and she's Melina! Pretty damning evidence by itself. However a scene in the script that was cut from the film has Melina telling Quaid that she used to model for Rekall (this scene is also present in the novelization).  
  Dr. Lull's assistant for the memory implant procedure remarks, "...he's gonna have a wild time! He's not gonna wanna come back!" And when Quaid, now on Mars, is told it's all just a memory implant, a dream, and he needs to wake up and come back to his real life, he doesn't want come back.  
  Dr. Edgemar tells Quaid that if he, Quaid, shoots Edgemar in his "dream" then "the walls of reality will come crashing down". When Quaid does shoot Edgemar anyway, the hotel room wall suddenly explodes, "crashing down", to admit armed Agency personnel.   
  Most movies fade to black before going to the end credits. Total Recall fades to white instead. Maybe an indication of the now-lobotomized Quaid waking up at Rekall?  


Notes from the novelization of Total Recall by Piers Anthony

(The page numbers come from the 1st printing, paperback edition, published June 1990)


The information about the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, given on page 1 is accurate.


The information about the environment of Mars' surface, such as atmospheric pressure and strength of gravity, on page 2, are accurate.


The dream sequence of Quaid on Mars suggests that he is on a mission of some kind on the planet's surface.


On page 2, Quaid looks up at Olympus Mons, the tallest mountain in the solar system (actually a dead volcano). The book compares it to Mauna Loa in Hawaii, Earth's largest mountain, only a third the size, and also a volcano. These are both true, Mauna Loa is technically Earth's tallest mountain, although most of it is under the ocean, unlike Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain above water.


Page 3 mentions alien pyramids, faces, and artifacts scattered about the surface of Mars. This is meant to lead into the alien artifacts subplot of the story. It also seems to be an intentional touchstone to the real world theories of the Face on Mars and other ancient structures and artifacts believed by some fringe researchers to exist on Mars (see Richard Hoagland's Enterprise Mission website for more on this research).


Pages 3-6 take Quaid's dream farther than that shown in the film. He and Melina walk to an artificial shaft in the ground and he rappels down it, but starts to fall, at which point he awakes from the dream.


Chapter 3 of the book seems not to have been properly edited in this first printing. Several sentences, phrases, and topics are repeated from one page to the next. There also seems to be a discrepancy in the social level Quaid and Lori are described as living at; at one point it says he agreed to move uptown and live largely off her family's wealth instead of his construction worker salary, then later the narrative indicates they bought the best multi-screen, color television they could afford which meant no 3D. It seems as if two drafts of the chapter got mashed together improperly.


On page 13, Quaid reflects that he's no "Hi-Q professor". Possibly "Hi-Q" is meant to be slang for "high I.Q".


On page 14, Quaid is referred to as a Construction Engineer, Site Preparation Specialist. This is an actual title for some construction workers who break up old foundations, etc. on existing building sites to make way for new building. This might be intended as an allusion to the building of Quaid's identity on top of that of Hauser.


Page 14 also mentions new buildings of plasplex being constructed. As far as I can tell, plasplex is a fictional construction material.


Page 15 describes Quaid and Lori as living in a conapt. Conapt is short for condominium-apartment.


On page 17, the newscaster reports on the Northern Bloc's bombing of a shipyard in Bombay. Presumably this is a reference to Bombay, India (currently more popularly known by it's original name, Mumbai), which would seem to indicate that India, or at least the city of Bombay, is part of the opposition Southern Bloc.


The news report (and the overall novel) mentions that scientists have found that six stars that are known to have gone nova in the past should not have; they were not the right type of stars to do so. This is part of the alien technology subplot of the novel that was cut from the shooting script of the film. The ancient aliens had left booby traps in their technology such that if it was not used properly, it would cause the local sun to go nova, wiping out a potentially hostile space-faring species. The six irregular novas suggests that there is other life in the galaxy that has fallen prey to this trap.


When stepping out of his apartment to head for work on page 23, Quaid has a vision of the sun going nova.


On page 25, the term "hophead" is used. A hophead is an opium user.


We're never told what city Quaid and Lori are living in. Page 30 of the novel mentions that traditional automobile manufacturing plants are being shut down for new plants that manufacture cold-fusion-powered vehicles, so possibly the city is Detroit, long known as an auto-manufacturing hub of the U.S. (In the short story that inspired the film, "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale", the city is Chicago.)


On page 34, Quaid enjoys the sight of the secretary at Rekall, who is wearing a variable transparency blouse, which allows it to be transparent under certain lighting conditions from certain angles. Author Piers Anthony modified this from the original short story, which describes the secretary as bare-breasted.


McClane is wearing a suit made of the skins of Martian frogs (actually Earth frogs raised on Martian farms who develop unique properties in the reduced gravity and increased radiation). This is borrowed from the original short story, though there the frogs are described as native to Mars (having been written before we knew the lifelessness of the planet).


On page 38, McClane explains to Quaid that part of the Rekall package is that he won't even remember going to Rekall; it will seem as if he actually went to Mars. (McClane also tells him this in the short story.)


On page 40, McClane mentions parts of the spy package, including double identities.


After Dr. Lull asks Quaid if he wants them to integrate some alien artifacts into his scenario, she doesn't show him any images on the monitor screen as she does in the film. Instead the book describes Quaid fantasizing about exploring and discovering the remnants of a vast alien complex, discovering its superscience and stunning the world with his achievement.


On page 45, Quaid briefly thinks it's odd that Lori still looks exactly the same now as she did when they met 8 years ago; she hasn't aged a day.


On page 48, Quaid notices that model 41A on the console looks just like the woman in his dreams.


At the beginning of Chapter 7, McClane tells the female client in his office, "...we really can remember it for you wholesale." This is a nod to the Phillip K. Dick short story on which Total Recall is based, "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale".


Page 50 reveals that Dr. Lull's first name is Renata.


The book reveals that the drug used to finally put Quaid back under is called narkidrine. This appears to be a fictional drug. Author Piers Anthony borrowed the term from "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale".


The book reveals that the Agency mentioned in the movie is not the CIA, but another semisecret government outfit, one which will use any means to achieve its goals. It was originally set up as a watchdog agency over the numerous intelligence groups of the Northern Bloc and was headed by Cohaagen. Gradually, Cohaagen absorbed the other groups into the Agency and became powerful himself, eventually gaining damaging knowledge against the Chairman of the Bloc such that he forced the Chairman to name him as Mars Colony Administrator. Cohaagen knew that the turbinium mining on Mars was the real key to the Northern Bloc's strength and by controlling it, he was effectively in control of the Bloc.


When Lori starts shooting at Quaid as he exits the bathroom in their apartment, the bullets are described as tracers. Tracer bullets have a small pyrotechnic charge built in that is ignited by the burning gunpowder, leaving a visible trail which allows the shooter to adjust the aim of their weapon toward the target more accurately.


On page 71, Quaid recalls his and Lori's honeymoon (now revealed to be just a memory implant). They rode the transcontinental zaptrain and drank blue Venusian champagne from crystal flutes grown on the space stations. As far as I know, "zaptrain" is a fictional term invented for the novel. The crystal flutes might one day be real; experiments in growing crystals in space have already taken place.


The lunar diamond mentioned on page 72 is probably a similar analogy to the crystal flutes grown on the space stations on page 71 as mentioned above.


Page 89 suggests that Hauser had been in the habit of making "Beauty and the Beast" jokes about Lori and Richter. Beauty and the Beast, of course, is a classic fairly tale about a beautiful woman who meets and befriends a hideous-but-loving beast-like man and gradually falls in love with him.


Page 94 seems to hint that Richter and his men questioned and killed the Rekall staff when they realized Quaid had been there: "...they had made a quick trip there to question the Rekall staff and dispatch them."


Pages 98-102 contain a scene not in the movie. The man claiming to be a friend of Quaid's from Mars who brings the briefcase to him, is revealed to be named Stevens. After the briefcase drop-off, he reflects on how Hauser had brought him into the Agency and even saved his life more than once. While searching for Quaid, Richter and Helm spot and grab Stevens. Despite a quick but thorough beating, Stevens refuses to tell what he knows about Quaid's whereabouts and Richter finally shoots him in the head. (In the film, Cohaagen claims that "Stevens" was part of the scam to help Quaid survive and get back to Mars so he could lead the Colonial government to the rebel leader Kuato.)


When the Johnnycab won't respond to Quaid's pleas to "Go! Anywhere!" he finally tells it to go to McDonald's! However, this doesn't work either because the Johnnycab responds, "There are fourteen McDonald's franchises in the greater metropolitan area."


Page 109 reveals exactly what turbinium is and how it is used and classified by the government.


In the book, Quaid stops to open the briefcase and view Hauser's message at an abandoned Toyota plant instead of a cement factory.


Pages 110-111 reveal that the briefcase left for Quaid by Stevens also contains the mask of the heavyset lady he later uses as a disguise, some galoshes that create a holographic image around his lower legs to make them look like the woman's, and (ironically) some Mars candy bars.


Instead of telling Quaid to stop shoving the tracker-removal probe into his nose when he hears a crunch as in the film, Hauser here says to shove all the way up to the maxillary sinus. The maxillary sinus is located above the roof of the mouth, so after shoving the probe up his nose, the internal metal tentacle would have to direct itself downward through the nasal passage to grab the tracking device; this would explain Hauser's comment that the probe is self-guiding. (Image at right is from Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body 20th U.S. edition, 1918, public domain.)


Driving through the rain, Richter thinks to himself how, given its dryness, there would never be any rain on Mars. This is an ironic foreshadowing of events after Quaid activates the alien device near the end of the story.


Chapter 14 gives details of the trip to Mars for both Quaid and Richter, both of whom are on the same ship, Quaid in disguise as the heavyset woman.


Page 120 mentions the space cycler. To my understanding, a space cycler is a ship that would move in a figure-eight orbit around two solar system bodies, in this case Earth and Mars. When the space cycler is in the proximity of Earth, shuttles would take off to/from the space cycler and to/from Earth with passengers. As the cycler continues its orbit, it comes back into proximity to Mars and shuttles would again go to/from the planet. So the ship we see arriving in the movie is actually the shuttle from the space cycler. The best time possible by a conventional spacecraft between Earth and Mars would be about 5 months; longer when the two planets are at the extreme ends of their orbits. It's not made clear how long the trip takes in either the book or film, but the comic book adaptation suggests that the passengers are in suspended animation for most of the trip, most likely meaning it was a fairly long voyage of weeks or months.


The references to the canyon, Valles Marineris, dwarfing the Grand Canyon, and the enormous shield volcanoes of the Tharsis region, are accurate.


Page 131 reveals that the Northern Bloc is officially known as the Confederation of Northern Nations.


Page 141 reveals that Venusville is located in the Chryse Planitia region of Mars. Chryse Planitia is an ancient, giant impact crater. Viking 1 landed in Chryse Planitia in 1976.


In both the movie and comic book, Quaid checks into suite 610 at the Hilton. Here in the novel, it is suite 280.


Page 143 reveals that just as there is a sleazy part of town called Venusville on Mars colony, there is a sleazy part of town called Marsville on the Venus colony.


Throughout the book, Benny claims he has 6 kids to feed instead of 5 as in the film.


Page 146 mentions that the Mars day is about a half-hour longer than that of Earth. This is true, a Martian day is about 24.6 hours long.


In his hotel room, after watching Cohaagen's declaration of martial law on the TV, Quaid changes the channel and sees a televised execution taking place. Cohaagen's colonial government is executing three law-breakers by exposure to the Martian atmosphere for the crimes of defacing public property (probably spray-painting "Kuato Lives"), resisting arrest, and treason.


On page 169, Quaid takes the pill from Dr. Edegmar's hand as he considers whether to believe him and swallow it. Then, when he's almost convinced on page 172, he takes the pill from Edgemar's hand again!


In another editorial slip, an almost identical sentence from the end of Chapter 18 is repeated at the beginning of Chapter 19.


In the movie, the fans circulating air into Venusville are stopped by Cohaagen. Here in the novel, they are stopped and then start turning in reverse, actively sucking the air out. But couldn't the residents jam up the fans to buy themselves more time?


Page 191 suggests that the mutations are caused as much by radiation from the turbinium in the mines as by the unshielded sunlight coming through the cheap domes.


Page 196 suggests that Hauser's first name may also be Douglas (as is Quaid's).


Page 197 goes into more detail about Hauser's interaction with the rebels previously. According to George (Kuato's brother and host), a year ago Hauser was working for Cohaagen but fell for Melina and decided he wanted to help the rebels. He said he would help them find out what was in the pyramid mine that had Cohaagen so spooked. He and Melina had put on spacesuits and hiked to a strange shaft in the ground that led inside the pyramid-shaped mountain. Just as in Quaid's dream as presented in Chapter 1, Hauser lowered himself down the shaft and fell. The rebels never heard from him again until Quaid showed up; they didn't know if Hauser had been killed in the fall or been captured by Cohaagen.


Page 198 describes George as having a rubber chestpiece designed to look like his chest to help hide Kuato's form trapped in his body.


Chapter 21 is entirely different from anything that happens in the film. As Kuato uses his mental powers to open up Quaid's mind, Quaid sees himself as Hauser entering the alien construct. He learns from Hauser's own thoughts that he had been sent to the rebels to infiltrate and betray them, but he fell in love with Melina and knew he couldn't hurt her nor, therefore, her cause. Hauser has entered the construct to try to find out what it is. He makes his way to a chamber within it marked by the figure of a man. He steps inside and a pre-recorded communication with the alien builders, an ant-like species called the No'ui, begins. He learns that the galaxy is teeming with life and trade occurs among them. But as the galaxy was slowly consumed by the black hole at the center, many alien homeworlds were destroyed and, often, the civilization and species chose to let itself die out. This required the advancement of new civilizations to join in the galactic trade, so potential species on primitive worlds were watched for signs of evolutionary advancement that would indicate a possible future space-going species. 50,000 years ago, this was Homo sapiens on Earth. The No'ui built the alien device on Mars so that it could only be reached when humanity had achieved a limited space-going technology. Then the humans would have to discover and figure out what it was and how to use it. If they chose not to use it, they would be left alone. If they used it wrongly, it would trigger the species' own destruction before they could spread their warlike ways through the galaxy. If they used it rightly, it would not only make Mars habitable for them, it would yield technological advances that would allow them to eventually join the galactic community and become trading partners.


Notice that the names of the No'ui that Quaid sees in his vision are all analogs of himself and the women recently in his life: Q'ad=Quaid, M'la=Melina, L'ri=Lori.


The description of the components of hydrazoic acid on page 216 is accurate.


In Chapter 23, Quaid deduces that Hauser had deliberately mislead Cohaagen, coming up with the plan to suppress his own memories and create the Quaid identity as a complex ploy to protect Melina and allow himself, as Quaid, to return to the rebels and deliver the alien information he had to Kuato. Only it hadn't quite worked out as intended and Quaid had been captured and was now about to be erased to restore Hauser's identity, which, during the process, would bring to light Hauser's, up to now, secret knowledge of the aliens and their device.


On page 246, Cohaagen reluctantly makes the decision to kill his former friend Hauser, now Quaid. When Richter makes his "about time" remark, Cohaagen silently makes the decision that Richter is expendable as well.


Page 257 mentions the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower, of course, is a 1,063 foot iron lattice tower built in Paris, France in 1889.


Quaid's final showdowns with Benny, Richter, and Cohaagen happen a bit differently than in the film, even including a couple different, patented Arnold one-liners such as "Am I boring you?" as Quaid drills through one of Cohaagen's soldiers with a jackhammer.


Cohaagen, angry that Quaid has taken over Hauser's body, mocks him, saying, "'You could have been somebody." This is likely a reference to the 1954 film classic On the Waterfront, in which Marlon Brando's character, Terry Malloy, says, "I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody instead of a bum, which is what I am."


As the alien device is pumping oxygen and moisture into the Martian atmosphere on page 275, the crumbling rock around Pyramid Mountain reveals that it is an actual pyramid, built by the No'ui long ago to house the machine. Although there are suspiciously pyramid-like hills on Mars, there is no Pyramid Mountain by name located in Chryse Planitia or elsewhere on Mars.


The aliens' terraforming process even includes the seeding of plant life as the new atmosphere takes form.


As Quaid and Melina recover from near suffocation on the surface of Mars, it starts to snow. 


Notes from the comic book adaptation published by DC Comics

Written by Elliot S. Maggin
Illustrated by Tom Lyle


The depiction of the Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos, on page 1, is not very accurate. In reality, the two moons are oddly-shaped non-spheroids (possibly two asteroids that were captured into Mars orbit long ago) not the perfect spheres seen here. The linae (lines) drawn on the left-most moon in panel 1 makes it look more like the Jupiterian moon Europa!


The spacesuits worn by Quaid and Melina are depicted with arm patches that read Pyramid Mines.


Instead of falling down an escarpment and smashing his faceplate as he does in the film, Quaid and Melina are scuffling down a steep slope and a pebble is kicked up by their feet which strikes Quaid's faceplate and cracks it, causing the glass to shatter.


On page 6, Quaid and Harry are using Bosch jackhammers at the construction site. Bosch is a real world company that manufactures jackhammers and other power tools.


On page 8, as Quaid's about to begin the memory implant procedure, a few panels of upcoming scenes are depicted, including the alien oxygen processing device.


Page 19, panel 3, reveals that the cement factory Quaid hides in, while he watches the message from Hauser, is Magco Cement Mfg. As far as I can tell, this is a fictional company.


On page 20, Quaid is eating a Stars bar, standing in for the Mars bar as revealed in the novel. 


Page 22 shows the Mars shuttle attached to rocket boosters and a fuel tank similar to that used by the now defunct U.S. space shuttles to reach Earth orbit.


Page 23 suggests that the passengers are in suspended animation for most of the trip between Earth and Mars due to the lengthy travel time (of 5 or more months by current technological standards).


On page 28, the three-breasted prostitute, Mary, is depicted wearing a tank top instead of the open shirt as seen in the movie (Comics Code Authority, y'know).


Page 35 reveals that the business through which Benny's cab crashes is Madame Fatima's Psychic Parlor. Later, on page 50, we also see Madame Fatima's Massage Parlor! I guess the lady gets around.


Memorable Dialog


you're dreaming.wav

I'm always back in the morning.wav

the girl of my dreams.wav

no wonder you're having nightmares.wav

climb the mountains of Mars.wav

Rekall jingle.wav

take a vacation from yourself.wav

secret agent.wav

I don't want to spoil it for you.wav

things hardly ever fuck up around here.wav

would you like us to integrate some alien stuff?.wav

blue sky on Mars.wav

he's not gonna want to come back.wav

schizoid embolism.wav

you're in a Johnnycab.wav

hope you enjoyed the ride.wav

your whole life is just a dream.wav

who the hell am I?.wav

I'm sure she hated every minute of it.wav

total recall.wav

fuck you, you asshole.wav

I am not familiar with that address.wav

fasten your seat belt.wav

get your ass to Mars.wav

the Martians love Kuato.wav

who told you to think?.wav

more money, more freedom, more air.wav

man don't even know if he's been to Mars or not.wav

do you want to know the future?.wav

I got five kids to feed.wav

not free, but available.wav

Earth slime.wav

what you been feeding this thing.wav

look who's talking.wav

relax, you'll live longer.wav

if you need any help with this one.wav

wish I had three hands.wav

you ever fuck a mutant?.wav

elements of your Rekall holiday and Ego Trip.wav

she's real because you dreamed her.wav

you'll be lobotomized.wav

you know how much I hate this fucking planet.wav

consider that a divorce.wav

what a bitch.wav

open your mind.wav

you led us right to him.wav

I ain't even married.wav

the best mind fuck yet.wav

that's my body you've got.wav

you think this is the real Quaid?.wav

see you at the party.wav

home in time for corn flakes.wav

all dreams come to an end.wav

what if this is a dream?.wav 


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