Science fiction lost one of its true icons.
Yes, Rutger Hauer’s career pushed way beyond the genre’s restrictive barriers, and included everything from period pieces (Cyrano De Bergerac) to war films (Soldier of Orange) to thrillers (Nighthaws, The Osterman Weekend) to horror (The Hitcher, which I haven’t seen). He played the first vampire king slain by Buffy (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), a crime lord matching wits with Clark Kent (Smallville), and acted as the head of Wayne Enterprises (Batman Begins).
But really, did he ever play a more singular character than Roy Batty in Bladerunner.
I’ve talked about my obsession with this movie, in all of its iterations, many times, so I won’t repeat it here. My love of that movie knows no bounds, and it is in part due to Hauer’s performance as a replicant whose desire to live despite a locked termination date. It’s equally menacing and tragic. Few things move me to tears like Rutger Hauer’s speech at the movie’s end.
Rest in piece. Time to die.
"Let's face it: fear is fun," writes Douglas E. Winter in his introduction to the landmark 1980s anthology Prime Evil. It may be why we turn to it as a source of entertainment, even if we seldom think critically about the hockey-masked villains or the hormone-addled teenagers who serve as prey.
But it can serve another purpose. It can lift us from the pits of depression and despair, as Shannon McGrew observes in her essay at Rue Morgue. "Horror gives us the chance not only to face our fears but to find a way to deal with some of the pain and suffering life throws at us," she writes--an acute assessment whether or not our pain is part of our depression, is situational, or even self-inflicted. They provide comfort when things fall apart.
If Midsommar represents art horror at its finest, then Crawl delivers a solidly entertaining if occasionally silly monster movie. Directed by French extremity wunderkind Alexandre Aja, it tells the story of a young college student (Kaya Scordelario) and her father (Barry Pepper) trapped in a decrepit house as a Category 5 hurricane hammers the coast of Florida. Rising water complicates their escape, as do hordes of giant alligators swimming the flooded streets. It's a pared-down effort, and Aja shows surprising restraint with material that could have been far more brutal. If it's not on nearly the same level as Midsommar, Crawl nonetheless shows what one can do with an economy of material. Worthwhile and recommended, and made me want to begin work on my meth gators story.
Derek Austin Johnson has lived most of his life in the Lone Star State. A member of the Turkey City Writer's Workshop, his work has appeared in The Horror Zine, Tell-Tale Press, Skull Fragments: A Skelos Sampler, Rick Klaw's Rayguns Over Texas!, Nova Express, Moving Pictures, Her Majesty's Secret Servant, and Revolution SF. His film column "Watching the Future" appeared each month at Hugo Award-winning SF Signal.
He lives in Central Texas.