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Classic Paul Verhoeven Movies To Celebrate Halloween

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

Paul Verhoeven is a non-conformist, satirical filmmaker who likes to make movies that make the audience sit up and take notice. His style is to provoke the audience into action using violence, nudity, and dystopian themes that mirror real-life scenarios. Here we look at some of the best Paul Verhoeven movies that you can watch to celebrate Halloween.

1. Paul Verhoeven's Best - Robocop (1987)

One of the best violent revenge films ever made and the best movie according to Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Rosa Diaz due to "Gratuitous Violence" is Robocop. Stephanie Beatriz plays Rosa Diaz and mentions that when Jake Peralta played by Andy Sandberg asks for the best cop movie of all time.

Robocop 1987 movie poster

Peter Weller plays Alex Murphy, a Detroit city cop who has partnered with Anne Lewis played by Nancy Allen. These cops are in a dystopian version of Detroit (which actually partially came true) where crime is beyond control and capitalism and corporate greed have corrupted the American Dream.

The plot begins with Alex Murphy trying to bust drug dealers and getting killed in the process without adequate backup. This is when a private corporation named Omni Consumer Products (OCP) steps in to bring Murphy back as a Cyborg.

Peter Weler as Robocop

Alex Murphy is reborn just as Christ was and comes back as Robocop! Peter Weller does an amazing job of a robot's voice even putting Arnold's Terminator robot voice to shame. Murphy/Robocop starts fighting crime as soon as he is online and in no time begins to remember the people who killed him and tries to solve his murder.

Meanwhile, the rise of Robocop has come at the cost of a Senior OCP board member Dick Jones' failure (played by Ronny Cox) at the hands of a young hotshot played by Miguel Ferrer.

Ronny Cox's Dick Jones is also behind the murder of Alex Murphy through his muscle Clarence Boddicker played by Kurtwood Smith of That's 70's Show.

Nuke Em Game in Robocop

Like most of Paul Verhoeven's movies, Robocop oozes satire and caricatures of real-world situations. There are ads that remind you of Oats Studios products such as the Nuke em' board game where you just nuke each other on a screen.

ED 209 in Robocop 1987

There's also clear mistrust of the police force and corruption that's shown as being rampant. There's a car actually named 6000 SUX, oversized guns, and oversized mechanical monsters such as the Enforcement Droid Series 209.

2. Total Recall (1990)

One of my favorite movies starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Total Recall 1990 movie is one of the best science fiction movies to date. This movie can be thought of as Paul Verhoeven's Inception before Christopher Nolan had even thought of the idea.

Total Recall 1990 movie

In the not-so-distant future, man has colonized Mars and offers all the planets of the solar system as tourist destinations. You can either go physically to the planets in the solar system to tour the place or get a memory of the perfect vacation implanted in your mind without ever stepping outside your planet.

You get to see lots and lots of retro-futurism in Total Recall - robot-operated cars, Martian currency, space trains, and memory implants. One thing most futurists got wrong is that energy would be inexpensive in the foreseeable future but actually, it is information. Knowledge is available to anyone who desires it.

The plot of the movie in itself is pretty solid except that it is executed in typical Verhoeven style. There is lots of messy action, cheesy lines, and great practical effects when it comes to gore.

There are a few famous scenes in Total Recall that are referenced from time to time across pop culture. One of them is Arnold Schwarzenegger going berserk in a cyborg facemask.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in a Cyborg Mask in Total Recall

Ronny Cox plays the Big Bad named Vilos Cohaagen in this movie as well. There's also Sharon Stone in one of her earlier roles along with other Paul Verhoeven regulars.

Arnold ends up going on this wild adventure with many twists and in the end, the audience is left guessing whether it is reality or just a memory implant or just a dream.

3. Basic Instinct (1993)

One of the better Paul Verhoeven films, Basic Instinct is a murder mystery with a heavy dose of eroticism. I just checked out Rotten Tomatoes and can't understand the low rating.

Basic Instinct 1993 movie rating on Rotten Tomatoes

From the critic's reviews and the critic's consensus what I can see is that the sometimes gratuitous nature of the movie puts off the audience. But I personally feel that this is the only movie where Verhoeven's racy stuff makes sense as part of the plot. It displays what a psychopath and a sociopath are capable of doing.

Catherine Tramell is a high-profile author of murder mysteries played by Sharon Stone who gets questioned when one of her lovers is murdered. Michael Douglas plays the role of detective Nick Curran who is investigating Tramell while dealing with a shady past of his own.

The plot twist in Basic Instinct is that the author writes novels and murders happen that mirror the plot of those novels. Jeanne Tripplehorn plays the role of a psychiatrist Dr. Beth Garner who gets entangled in the investigations. People start getting killed off by a mystery killer and you won't know who it is until the end.

Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct

One of the most memed moments of Sharon Stone uncrossing her legs is in this movie. While provocative for its time, it has been referenced and parodied so many times now that it's just funny.

4. Starship Troopers (1997)

One of the lesser-loved Paul Verhoeven films, Starship Troopers (1997) is a movie that explores warring aliens set against the background of an interplanetary militaristic society.

Starship Troopers 1997 Movie

The story revolves around young military cadets Johnny Rico, Dizzi Flores, and Carmen Ibanez played by Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, and Denise Richards. There's also Neil Patrick Harris playing the role of a psychic named Carl Jenkins.

Brain Bug in Starship Troopers

The plot of Starship Troopers isn't mind-blowing and the gratuitous violence as a result is pointless to a certain extent. The rough outline of the story is to attack massive insect-shaped aliens on Earth and other planets to regain dominance of the human race and thwart any attacks.

While Verhoeven tries to poke fun at militarism and dictatorships, he makes it so over the top that it's hard to take the satire in this movie seriously. The bug-like aliens are not shown to have any personality traits and hints at Xenophobia that humans exhibit sometimes. There's also forced conformity that is shown to be imposed on a society that lacks critical thinking.

5. Hollow Man (2000)

If a movie was made to describe the metaphor "power corrupts" Hollow Man would be it. Kevin Bacon plays an ambitious scientist named Sebastian Caine who discovers a way to become invisible. Caine runs an underground laboratory where he and other scientists cook up a way to become invisible and test the same on animals. When questioned by the government/military about the progress of the experiment Caine lies and things go bad from there.

Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man

Firstly Kevin Bacon makes a great villain, the most recent film I've seen him in is X-Men First Class. Before that, I have seen Bacon play the role of the antagonist well in the Meryl Streep vehicle "The River Wild." The movie revolves around how twisted Caine gets and how the people closest to him suffer the most.

Elizabeth Shue plays the role of a scientist named Linda McKay. Shue is one of my all-time favorite actors and the best 80s-themed girlfriend ever (as seen in Back to the Future 2.) She has good chemistry with Josh Brolin playing a fellow scientist. These three are the only people who have substantial roles, all the others are canon fodder for the psychotic personality that is Caine.

For the time, Hollow Man had great suspense, thrills, and CGI along with Verhoeven's signature racy scenes. Most villains in Paul Verhoeven's movies are drunk on power until they come crashing to a horrific end. This movie is no different.

Wrapping Up

In case you want to see comic-book-style movies with messy practical effects and plots that actually address real-life dystopias, Paul Verhoeven's movies are where you should start. These movies are listed to sum up the unique style of storytelling employed by this director. Let me know what you think!

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