Philip K. Dick - on the Screen

Minority Report (2002) poster
Minority Report (2002) poster
Ridley Scott with Philip K. Dick
Ridley Scott with Philip K. Dick

Quick Facts – Science Fiction author Philip Kindred Dick was born in Chicago, Illinois in December 1928. PKD published his first short story, “Beyond Lies the Wub” in 1952. His first novel, “Solar Lottery”, was published in 1955.

One of PKD’s favourite themes was the nature of reality, particularly altered reality. In novels like Time out of Joint (1959), The Man in the High Castle (1962) and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965) the leading characters have to determine their own orientation in an alternate reality.

“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”(1968) is probably PKDs most well known novel thanks to Ridley Scott’s movie adaptation Blade Runner (1982).

“We Can Remember it for you Wholesale” (1966) was filmed as Total Recall (1990), one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biggest hits. It was remade in 2012.

His 1969 novel Ubik was picked by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best novels in the English language published between 1923 and 2005.

In an interview with website Deep Outside SFFH, PKDs ex-wife Tessa was asked why Hollywood kept changing his story titles, she replied “Actually, the books rarely carry Phil's original titles, as the editors usually wrote new titles after reading his manuscripts. Phil often commented that he couldn't write good titles.”

In February 1982 Philip K, Dick was found unconscious on the floor of his home, he had suffered a stroke. He was taken to hospital where he suffered another stroke after which activity in his brain had ceased. A few days later he was disconnected from life support and died. He was 53.

PKD published 44 novels and wrote 121 short stories. Since his death 10 of his stories have been adapted into movies.

Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner (1982) poster
Blade Runner (1982) poster
Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner (1982) directed by Ridley Scott, starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmett Walsh, Daryl Hannah, Joanna Cassidy, William Sanderson, Brion James and Joe Turkel. 117mins

One of the most influential sci-fi films ever made, based on PKD's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" (1968)

L.A. Cop Rick Deckard is hunting rogue replicants, well someone has to.

The film did not have them queuing in 1982 but it than went on to be one of the most talked about sci-fi films ever. The directors cut suggests that Deckard may be a replicant, and Sir Ridley has admitted to not reading the book, tut tut.

Nominated for two Oscars, Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects.

Blade Runner cost $28m to make and has grossed $33m in the U.S.

IMDB rating 8.3

Total Recall (1990)
Total Recall (1990)
Ronny Cox and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall (1990)
Ronny Cox and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall (1990)
Total Recall (1990) poster
Total Recall (1990) poster

"Get your ass to Mars!"
Total Recall (1990) directed by Paul Verhoeven, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Rachel Ticotin, Michael Ironside and Ronny Cox. 113mins

Based on PKD's short story "We Can Remember it for you Wholesale" (1966).

Douglas Quaid (Schwarzenegger) visits Recall Inc to get memories of a holiday to Mars implanted into his mind but than things go badly wrong, his wife tries to kill him and hitmen from Mars are out to get him too.

Won Oscar for Best Visual Effects, nominated for Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing.

Total Recall cost $65m to make and has grossed $261m worldwide.

IMDB rating 7.4

Screamers (1995)
Screamers (1995)
Screamers (1995) poster
Screamers (1995) poster

Screamers (1995) directed by Christian Duguay, starring Peter Weller, Roy Dupuis, Jennifer Rubin, Andrew Lauer and Charles Edwin Powell. 108mins.

Based on PKD's short story "Second Variety" (1953)

2078 and deadly killer robots known as screamers, invented by idiot scientists to be the perfect weapon, have evolved and self-replicated becoming an uncontrollable threat to all human life.

A made-for-video sequel - Screamers: The Hunting - was released in 2009.

Screamers cost $20m to make and has grossed $5.7m in the U.S.

IMDB rating 6.1

Total Recall (2070) poster
Total Recall (2070) poster


Total Recall (1999) TV Series, starring Michael Easton, Karl Pruner, Judith Krant, Michael Rawlins, Matthew Bennett and Cynthia Preston.

22 x 60mins episodes.

"Inspired" by the film Total Recall based on a PKD short story, and "visually influenced" by the film Blade Runner which was based on a PKD novel.

Cop David Hume (Easton) works for the Citizens Protection Bureau (CPB), a police agency. After his partner is killed by cyborgs, he is partnered against his wishes with a naïve android cop (Pruner) who is new to the Bureau.

IMDB rating 6.8

Mekhi Phifer and Gary Sinise in Impostor (2001)
Mekhi Phifer and Gary Sinise in Impostor (2001)
Impostor (2001) poster
Impostor (2001) poster

Impostor (2001) directed by Gary Fleder, starring Gary Sinise, Madeleine Stowe, Vincent D'Onofrio, Tony Shalhoub, Tim Guinee, Mekhi Phifer, Gary Dourdan and Lindsay Crouse. 102mins.

Based on PKD's 1953 short story of the same name.

Spencer Olham (Sinise) is arrested on suspicion of being a dangerous android created by hostile aliens. The androids are oblivious to the fact they aren't human and each has an organic nuclear bomb implanted in their chest, waiting for the right time to go off.

Impostor cost $30m to make and has grossed $8.1m worldwide.

IMDB rating 6.0

Tom Cruise in Minority Report (2002)
Tom Cruise in Minority Report (2002)
Tom Cruise in Minority Report (2002)
Tom Cruise in Minority Report (2002)
Minority Report (2002) poster
Minority Report (2002) poster
Minority Report (2002)
Minority Report (2002)


Minority Report (2002) directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Neal McDonough, Peter Stormare and Max Von Sydow. 145mins.

Based on PKD's short story "The Minority Report" (1956)

2054 and John Anderton (Cruise) is a PreCrime cop who arrests people before they commit any crimes thanks to the PreCogs, mutants with precognitive abilities. When Anderton discovers the next person about to commit a murder is himself, he goes on the run.

The PreCogs are named after famous mystery authors - Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and Dashiell Hammett.

Oscar nominated for Best Sound Editing.

Minority Report cost $102m to make and has grossed $358m worldwide.

IMDB rating 7.7


Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman in Paycheck (2003)
Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman in Paycheck (2003)
Paycheck (2003)
Paycheck (2003)
Paycheck (2003) poster
Paycheck (2003) poster

Paycheck (2003) directed by John Woo, starring Ben Affleck, Aaron Eckhart, Uma Thurman, Paul Giamatti, Colm Feore, Joe Morton and Michael C. Hall. 119mins.

Based on PKD's 1953 short story of the same name.

Michael Jennings (Affleck) is a reverse engineer, he does top secret technical work for major companies and than has his memory of the time he worked on the project wiped clean. On his latest job he accepts a mind wipe of three years for an 8 figure paycheck. When he completes the task and the 3 years have been erased from his mind he goes home and finds that everything has changed and that he is wanted for murder.

Paycheck cost $60m to make and has grossed $96m worldwide.

IMDB rating 6.1

Robert Downey Jr in A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Robert Downey Jr in A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Winona Ryder in A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Winona Ryder in A Scanner Darkly (2006)
A Scanner Darkly (2006) poster
A Scanner Darkly (2006) poster
Keanu Reeves in A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Keanu Reeves in A Scanner Darkly (2006)


A Scanner Darkly (2006) directed by Richard Linklater, starring Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr, Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder and Rory Cochrane. 100mins.

Based on PKD's 1977 novel of the same name.

Bob Arctor (Reeves) and his housemates pass the time taking drugs and having long paranoid conversations, they are taking a powerful highly addictive drug called Substance D which can result in bizarre hallucinations and split personalities. Bob also happens to be an undercover cop, his mission, to immerse himself in the drugs underworld and find the source of the drug.

Filming took just 23 days, the animation process rotoscoping every frame took 18 months to complete.

A Scanner Darkly cost $8.7m to make and has grossed $7.6m worldwide.

IMDB rating 7.1

Nicolas Cage and Jessica Biel in Next (2007)
Nicolas Cage and Jessica Biel in Next (2007)
Next (2007) poster
Next (2007) poster


Next (2007) directed by Lee Tamahori, starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, Jessica Biel, Thomas Kretschmann, Tory Kittles and Peter Falk. 96mins.

Very loosely based on PKD's short story "The Golden Man" (1954).

Cris Johnson (Cage) has the unique ability to see two minutes into the future. FBI agent Callie Ferris (Moore) has figured out his talent for accurately predicting the future and wants him to help her catch terrorists who are planning on detonating a nuclear device in Los Angeles.

Next cost $70m to make and has grossed $76m worldwide.

IMDB rating 6.1


Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
Terence Stamp and Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
Terence Stamp and Matt Damon in The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
The Adjustment Bureau (2011) poster
The Adjustment Bureau (2011) poster


The Adjustment Bureau (2011) directed by George Nolfi, starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Michael Kelly, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery and Terence Stamp. 106mins.

Based on PKD's short story "Adjustment Team" (1954).

Congressman David Norris (Damon) is approached by a stranger who tells him that he is from the Adjustment Bureau, their job is to make sure everybody lives their lives according to a preordained plan, any deviation from that plan and they would need to be adjusted.

The Adjustment Bureau cost $60m to make and has grossed $127m worldwide.

IMDB rating 7.1

Colin Farrell in Total Recall (2012)
Colin Farrell in Total Recall (2012)
Total Recall (2012)
Total Recall (2012)
Total Recall (2012)
Total Recall (2012)
Total Recall (2012)
Total Recall (2012)

Total Recall (2012) directed by Len Wiseman, starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy, Ethan Hawke and John Cho. 118mins (133mins)

A remake of Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall (1990) which was based on PKD's short story "We Can Remember it for you Wholesale" (1966)

Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender were considered for the role of Doug Quaid. Director Len Wiseman is married to leading lady Kate Beckinsale.

Quaid doesn't get his ass to Mars in this one, it's all set on Earth (in the year 2084) which has been divided into two warring states - Euromerica and New Shanghai.

Total Recall cost $125m to produce and has grossed $198.4m worldwide.

IMDB rating 6.2

Total Recall (2012) poster
Total Recall (2012) poster

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Comments 8 comments

Flora Breen Robison 4 years ago

I am not familiar with this man's name, let alone read his books. But I do recognize the name of the movies, whether I've seen them or not.

I am most familiar with Blade Runner and have seen it several times.

I have also seen A Scanner Darkly. I own a copy because I am a Rory Cochrane fan-became one when he was on CSI: Miami. Fascinating artwork. I did have to look at the ceiling though while Rory's character saw the fake bugs. I actually have seen several films I normally would not have seen but for Rory.

I could see me watching The Adjustment Bureau. It sounds interesting and its rating is goog enough for me to check it out.

I will not see Minority Report. Although I have seen a lot of Crusie movies earlier in his carrer, I have not seen any films he has made since he started in the Mission Impossible series. I'm just not interested in his recent career. and I'm not happy with what that series did to the TV show's lead. They made Phelps into a traitor. Peter Graves made Paramount a lot of money during his career. He deserved better from them.

I don't see the point in remaking Total Recall.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Hi Flora, thanks for commenting on another author hub. Philip K. Dick died before Blade Runner was completed he only saw 20 minutes of footage. 53 years old, he might have still been alive today.

A Scanner Darkly is an underrated slice of sci-fi and the animation gives it an almost unique look. Linklater used a similar technique in Waking Life.

The new Total Recall might be interesting if it's closer to the original story than the previous film.

The Adjustment Bureau is worth a look, it would have made a good Twilight Zone episode back in the 60's. :)

Thanks as always for posting.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Hi Steve; I haven't seen some of these. I've seen "Bladerunner" of course, and "Total Recall", which was a decent action film. I liked "the adjustment Bureau". It was a clever film.

I didn't know that there was another version of "Total Recall" coming out. This is the first I've heard of it.

I should read more of P.K. Dick's work because I've only read "Do android's dream of electronic sheep?"

Fun hub,

Rob


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks for commenting Rob. The Total Recall remake is out in august in the UK, I may go and see it. After I've read some reviews first of course.


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Another winning hub, I have seen almost all of the movies in your hub...with BladeRunner and Total Recall being my favorites. I did not like Screamers or A Scanner Darkly at all. I have tried to read some of his novels but can never get all the way through the books.

I do know that Deckard in Bladerunner is a human and not a replicant....I know still ranting about Ridley Scott saying he was a replicant.

As for Total Recall....I missed the fact that they made a tv series....but I did hear about the new version...your trailer link was handy as I had not seen the trailer before...it looks ok....but I imagine Colin Farrell will end up with another box office bomb....voted up and interesting.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Hello Cogerson. thanks as ever for commenting. I know, everyone turns out to be a replicant in Blade Runner, even the filmmakers.

I'm curious about the new Total Recall, I'm hoping it's good and makes some dosh. I want to see more futuristic sci-fi. I'm so glad they revived Star Trek. :)


rabbit75 profile image

rabbit75 4 years ago

Steve, this hub is just pure awesome. I actually watched Minority Report again after reading this hub.

I had seen the special features about this author, but I had no idea he had written the short stories that inspired Blade Runner, Total Recall, Next and Imposter, in which I like all the movies.

Truly interesting and a brilliant...paranoid author PK Dick was.

Voted up and truly interesting!


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England Author

Hello rabbit75, good to see you back at the site. Thanks for the comment, votes and kind words, they are most appreciated.

Dick feared he was going schizo, he should have taken less drugs, let his mind clear. Died too soon.

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