Paul Verhoeven’s films are famously packed with action, violence, and bleak and biting satire. But the most defining characteristic of any the director’s movies is the inimitable practical effects. Classics like
Easily one of the most iconic onscreen robots of all time, OCP’s first attempt at robotic law enforcement makes an entrance you can never forget after brutally killing a member of the corporation’s board. Brought to life with incredible stop motion by Craig Davies and Phil Tippett, ED-209 is one of the best parts of Verhoeven’s uber-violent takedown of privatized policing. ED-209 has many brilliant moments, from his bold introduction to the moment when he meets his greatest adversary: the humble staircase.
The titular cyborg is obviously a fantastic feat of SFX work, designed by Rob Bottin, who’d just come off of creating the wild world of
Death of Emil Antonwsky
If you saw
From the opening moments of Verhoeven’s outrageous adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story, special effects maestro Rob Bottin showed he wasn’t messing around. This opening shot of Arnold on Mars drinking in the deadly martian air showcased some of the best and most outlandish practical effects of the era, and gave us a hint at all the joys we had to come during this sci-fi romp.
Airport Robot Lady
One of the most spectacular effects that the film has to offer is undoubtedly this unforgettable moment where Arnold unveils himself from inside a robot made to look like a very stressed-out middle aged woman. Not only is this a great comedy beat but the radical reveal of the head opening up in segments is still one of the best looking movie moments in Hollywood history.
Cronenberg’s fingerprints can still be felt on the movie he was meant to helm before parting ways to make
The Bug Autopsy
The Brain Bug
One of the largest practical puppets on set was the massive Brain Bug, which the crew members meet when they’re deployed to the Bugs’ planet. Brought to life using puppetry and CG, the Brain Bug is a sight to behold. In a particularly memorable scene, Neil Patrick Harris’ Carl Jenkins walks up to the creature and touches it, truly showcasing the mastery at work behind the scenes as the Brain Bug really looks like a really gross living, breathing alien.
There are a couple of great practical moments during the Troopers’ training that really hearken back to the ’80s heyday of special effects. Though we’d love to shout out every single one, we can’t. That’s why we’re picked this brilliantly brutal head shot. After Casper Van Dien’s Rico removes a crew member’s helmet, he gets shot by live ammo in the training and his head blows up just like it’s the ’80s again and Tom Savini himself envisioned it. Classic.