10. The 4th Man (1983)
A washed-up academic (Jeroen Krabbé) looking for inspiration becomes enamoured by a woman (Renée Soutendijk) at one of his lectures and is troubled by nightmarish visions and the bisexual love triangle he becomes involved in.
This is essentially an earlier, better and more complex European version of Basic Instinct. The femme fatale even has the same hairstyle as Catherine Trammel.
The 4th Man (perhaps a reference to Carol Reed’s classic noir The Third Man) is sexy, twisted and sometimes bewildering, but it gives Verhoeven devotees one final salacious Hitchcockian ride before he jetted off to Hollywood to make more commercial fare.
Recommended for you: Top 10 Alfred Hitchcock Films
9. Total Recall (1990)
A blue collar man (Arnold Schwarzenegger) becomes convinced he is a deep undercover spy after undergoing memory implantation and travels to Earth’s colony on Mars to find out the truth.
Total Recall starts off pretty intriguingly in its plotting. It’s full of fascinating, noodle-baking ambiguity befitting its basis in cerebral Philip K Dick story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”. But gradually it becomes dumbed-down just like every other admittedly very polished Arnie action movie.
Quaid (Quail in the book) shouldn’t really look like Schwarzenegger, but his goofy charm and aptitude for action pairs well with Verhoeven’s imaginative visuals and natural rebellious streak.
8. Turkish Delight / Turks fruit (1973)
This erotic melodrama documents the tumultuous relationship between a sex addict sculptor (Rutger Hauer) and the young woman he emotionally abuses and eventually marries (Monique van de Ven).
Turkish Delight is the best of Verhoeven’s European erotica by quite some margin, and understandably often tops the Best of Dutch Cinema lists.
Verhoeven doesn’t seem to care if his characters are likeable, only that they’re interesting and made up of fascinating contradictory layers. Rutger Hauer is pretty detestable in his film debut as Eric, but Monique van de Ven is utterly compelling as the self-destructive Olga, searching in vain for meaningful human connection.
7. Benedetta (2021)
Inspired by Judith C Brown’s attention-grabbing historical account “Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy”, Benedetta follows a convent sister’s (Virginie Efira) crisis of faith brought on by a same-sex love affair and vivid religious visions.
It’s incredible that it took Verhoeven so long to get around to blasphemy; he’d already offended just about everyone else over the course of his career and, although he has a strong faith himself, he clearly doesn’t agree with every teaching of the Bible.
As a dark period psychological drama, Benedetta works like gangbusters. The performances, particularly from Virginie Efira and Daphné Patakia, are mesmerising, and yes we get to see nuns doing a lot of things nuns shouldn’t do.
Does the film’s horniness undermine whatever point Verhoeven is making about faith and dogma or is it a key part of it? Your mileage may vary.