Starship Troopers is a sweet movie to say the least-- soldiers' legs get ripped off, cows get cut into crimson confetti, and it even includes some people without clothing in it. Essentially, it has everything that a classic film needs and then some.
However, the movie has a pretty intricate and shadowy backstory that explains why the film that landed in theaters turned out the way it did. From extremely violent scenes that had to be censored (only to reappear on cable TV years later), to protests by PETA and young girls gossiping about Casper Van Dien's tush, Starship Troopers has its share of dark secrets to go along with all of its excellent bug killing action.
With the cult status that the movie has achieved since its release-- which has seriously skyrocketed in recent years-- the secrets have started pouring forth like a wave of angry bugs from the hive, intent on ripping everyones' limbs off.
With that said, it's time to gear up because we're going in-- and you may not like what you find.
So grab your humongous assault rifle, call all your squad mates, and get ready for planet fall because we're bringing the war to the bugs with 15 Dark Secrets You Never Knew About Starship Troopers.
15 Real footage of the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire was used
The whole reason that the humans have to fly out to space and kick some bug butt is because of the bug's supposed attack on Buenos Aires. However, it's not like that was really that far fetched.
We declare genocide on invasive species of bugs when they ruin our crops and infest our homes, so if they did decide to blow up the capital of Argentina, we're pretty sure that people would start attacking them with assault rifles.
Any true patriot knows that the news about Buenos Aries is broken to the citizens of earth in a particularly memorable piece of propaganda, showing the devastation and carnage of the bug attack as buildings are ablaze and the screams of the wounded can be heard.
However, this scene is actual real. The propaganda broadcast used footage from the Oakland Hills Fire in 1991, which burnt down thousands of homes and killed 25 people.
14 Director Paul Verhoeven Wanted The Soldiers To Be Very Young
If you haven't gathered by now, Paul Verhoeven really likes portraying war in his movies based on his experiences as a child. Growing up down the street from a secret Nazi missile base and fearing for your life every time a plane flies overhead will probably do that to you.
However, occasionally Verhoeven's memory was a bit too vivid, especially for the producers of Starship Troopers. Verhoeven wanted to make the age of the soldiers in the movie reflect the age of soldiers in the real world, which would have made them extremely young.
The producers wouldn't let Verhoeven cast teenagers and children, though, because they though that it would be too disturbing for audiences. We suppose you can't blame a guy for trying-- he wanted the movie to be as realistic as possible.
13 Many cast members passed out from heatstroke while filming
The bug planet is a desolate desert wasteland inhabited by some of the meanest multi-legged baddies ever conceived for the silver screen. Obviously, that means that the scenes on the bug planet had to be filmed in a real world desert, which as you also may know, is extremely hot during the day.
The desert was so hot in fact, that several actors and members of the crew were constantly passing out from heatstroke. So the crew members who weren't passing out had the idea to cut holes in the backs of their bulky, dark colored uniforms for better ventilation.
This is evident from the shot above, which depicts the groups of soldiers facing forward. Had they been turned around, their bare backs would be viewable. Another solution could have been to choose another setting to shoot from, but what do we know?
12 Casper Van Dien's Daughters Know About The Revealing Scenes
Rico is the man-- he kicks some serious bug butt, and even makes it out of the hive at the end of the movie. However, things weren't so great in real life.
When Casper Van Dien, who portrays Rico, went to pick his daughters up from school shortly after the movie came out, he was shocked when two of their classmates immediately recognized.
Apparently, there a lot of fanfare to Casper's surprise-- and his daughters horror. Many younger boys saw him as a hero and thought he was awesome. However, due to a revealing scene in the movie, this also meant that a lot of Van Dien's daughters' classmates had seen a bit too much of him, and didn't shy away from telling the girls about it.
It doesn't seem like a big deal, but imagine going through your school days having to hear about your dad's butt. Yeah, it hurts.
11 It almost received a NC-17 rating due to one harrowing scene
There is a particular scene in Starship Troopers that had to be cut from the film, unless director Paul Verhoeven and company wanted to get an NC-17 rating slapped onto their flick. The scene in question was a pretty gruesome decapitation of a human soldier by an attacking bug's particularly sharp mandible.
The scene was removed, and all was well in the world, as Starship Troopers hit theaters and started raking in the dough. However, a few years later FX started broadcasting movies on its network with the risqué scene still included for cable goer's viewing pleasure (for the most part).
Starship Troopers was no exception. The infamous decapitation scene can still be viewed on the FX version. It's extremely odd to think that a scene that could have given the movie a NC-17 rating a few years ago is now being shown on cable in the middle of the day.
10 The Movie Used Props And Set Pieces From Total Recall
Starship Troopers has some great set, prop, and costume design. The aesthetic portrayed in the movie has garnered a cult following with good reason-- it's awesome. Even though it's lauded as being some of the most original in sci-fi, there's just one small problem: not all of the scenes and props belonged to the movie.
Certain parts of the set, including props, were reused from Total Recall, the excellent movie adaptation of Phillip K. Dick's short story that had audiences squirming uncomfortably in their seats as Arnold Schwarzenegger jammed a giant set of tongs way too far up his nose.
Not only that, but prop and set stealing is a two way street-- multiple series and movies have also reused Starship Troopers' props and set pieces in order to try and capture some of the film's magic, such as Firefly and the Planet Of The Apes remake.
9 The reason behind the censored cow scene
If you've seen Starship Troopers, you're definitely familiar with the cow scene. It contains a cow that is forced into a room with a bug, which proceeds to shred the cow behind a giant "censored" bar, while you hear it wailing in pain.
This is another prime example of the effect of propaganda in building resentment towards an enemy and, overall, an effective method for garnering hate towards a species that's just acting on its instincts to eat.
However, it turns out that the scene wasn't censored because of the special effects, which weren't actually that gruesome. Instead, the censored bar was thrown into the movie in an effort to keep PETA from complaining about the cruelty being done to the cow.
If you removed the censored bar from the scene, all you would see was a crew member hosing and splattering blood on the walls.
8 One Actor Already Had Both Legs Amputated
There's method acting, and then there is real method acting. If you remember correctly, the cadets all shake a particular soldier's giant robotic claw at HQ, which is super heavy foreshadowing that bugs like to just take part of you as opposed to the whole kabab.
If you're a fan of the movie or novel, you'll also realize that a whole lot of senior officers or soldiers who have been in the thick of it have prosthetic limbs.
While these prosthetics are dystopian futuristic cool (meaning you could totally open cans of tuna by crushing them in your steely fingers), they still replace a living limb, which is not cool.
The thing is, though, that the officer who shakes the cadets' hands comes out from behind the desk and doesn't have a leg to stand on. No that's not a joke-- the guy has no legs.
It turns out the actor playing him actually had both legs amputated in real life, so the authenticity is out of the park with this one. As sad as it is, casting must have been a cinch.
7 Director Paul Verhoeven included many references to WWII
Who ever thought that Neil Patrick Harris would ever look so at home in an uniform? Its been stated before, but the uniforms that the humans wear in Starship Troopers look a lot like Nazi uniforms. Well, they're actually meant to, according to director Paul Verhoeven.
Verhoeven grew up in the Nazi occupied Netherlands, right down the street from a German V2 rocket base, which was a prime target for allied soldiers to turn into a smoking crater every chance they got. For obvious reasons, Verhoeven hated the Nazis and war, and it reflects in his directing choices.
Even though the allies-- much like the humans in Starship Troopers-- were the good guys, it doesn't mean that innocents-- like Verhoeven and his family-- didn't suffer during their bombing.
The point behind dressing up the heroes like Nazis is meant emphasize the fact that the uniform doesn't make a difference-- in war, we're all monsters.
6 There were elements of Fascism
The original book, as well as the unrelated screen play that was mashed with the novel, was about humans fighting bugs and the horrors of war.
There were several fascist elements in the book, so director Paul Verhoeven took what he knew about fascism and the Nazis (which was a lot), and used it to make Starship Troopers a serious cinematic study on the subject.
An example of this is the propaganda displayed in the movie, which is overly dramatized. Most of the soldiers and civilians on Earth obtain their news about the war from this propaganda, much like the brainwashed state of Germany, which was blinded as Hitler and his cronies became more and more powerful in WWII.
The movie also speaks volumes about the futility of war, as well as the massively important aspect of context and the perspective from both sides during an armed conflict.
The bugs are only doing what's best for them-- ripping off peoples' legs and eating them alive-- while the humans are doing what's best for the-- eradicating a species that they don't understand. No one wins.
5 The Director Was Not A Fan Of The Source Material
Its already been established that Starship Troopers wasn't actually the source material in the beginning-- a completely unrelated screen play was selected and jammed packed with elements and plot points from Heinlein's book, much to the agitation of the screenplay's writer and director Paul Verhoeven.
So, Verhoeven had an idea-- he was going to take those last minute elements from the book and mock them. The producers wanted to take a pro-Fascist book and sprinkle it all over his movie-- no problem, especially for a guy who gets off on pointing out that Nazis, and Fascism in general, are the worst.
Thus, Starship Troopers was born as the glaringly poignant look at Fascism that it remains today.
4 Author Robert A. Heinlein believed that civilians were lazy
Robert A. Heinlein is considered the "Dean of science-fiction" in the field, as his controversial novels and stories still largely effect the genre today. Starship Troopers may be his most well known book. This may be partly to due with its Fascist undertones, which might seem a bit odd since the book was written by a military man from the US.
Well, there's a reason for that-- after Heinlein retired from the military and began writing about people blasting bugs with assault rifles, he made an astute observation about the civilians that he had spent his life valiantly serving: they were a bunch of lazy slobs.
Heinlein makes mandatory military service part of his human society in the novel, amidst other norms that run right along with the Fascist ideas implemented by the Axis of Evil in WWII.
3 Was Rico Actually Miscast?
In the book, Rico is from Buenos Aries, meaning that he is Argentinean. However, in the movie he looks like he is of European decent. While many fans wondered if this was due to a casting mistake or due to time restraints, it was actually because of neither reason.
Verhoeven decided to cast the blond haired, blue eyed Casper Van Dien to reflect the mass exodus of war criminals and Nazis to Argentina after the Reich came crashing down at the end of WWII.
This was actually a very creative way to get Paul Verhoeven's deeper meaning (or obsession), with broadcasting the atrocities of the Nazis and fascism to the masses. What may have seemed like a serious casting oversight actually just turned out to be Verhoeven's mastery of weaving SS Officers into each and every = facet of his movies.
2 The bugs didn't really attack Argentina
The whole reason that the humans decide to storm the bug's planet and start splattering their neon colored insides all over the place is because the bugs flattened most of Buenos Aries with a comet. However, one has to wonder: how were they able to do this?
It's obvious that the bugs aren't very intelligent-- they storm machine gun nests and fortifications by running directly at them. They are also brutally primal and overall seem to be lacking any signs of advanced society or technology.
The answer is simple: the bugs didn't decimate Buenos Aries. In reality, the humans destroyed Argentina's capital in order to legitimize their invasion of the bug's planet and their expansion into the stars.
The bug's don't "attack" until the humans come knocking on their home planet's doorstep, looking to ruin everything-- exactly like what humans always do.
Considering that the bugs lack the necessary intelligence needed to control a comet or create the technology that could, this seems like a serious orchestration on the human's part.
1 Director Paul Verhoeven received criticisms
Starship Troopers was a hit when it was released in theaters-- it made a profit, was loved by sci-fi and action fans alike, and has remained relevant, garnering quite the cult following today.
However, back in director Paul Verhoeven's homeland, the reviews were not as good. Apparently,Verhoeven's fellow friends in the industry mocked his sci-fi movie, believing it to be a cheap shill for cash from movie-going audiences.
However, if you work in the industry, even if you're the artsiest person in the room, movies are at least, to some extent, made in order to make money-- even super duper indie passion projects that no one has ever seen that magically become popular and ascend the director to stardom. You may not want to accept this fact, but it is still true.
Regardless, Verhoeven's friends are neither the brightest nor the nicest-- while the movie might not be the most refined take on war and suffering, it definitely has a lot to say in regards to the gray area of war and perspective during conflict.
Can you think of any other dark secrets about Starship Troopers? Sound off in the comments!