A lot of my friends are commenting on the recent death of Dutch actor Rutger Hauer, best known for his role in the 1982 film, Blade Runner. I will confess, I’ve never seen Blade Runner, although I’m pretty sure Bill has it in our DVD collection. Maybe I’ll get around to watching it at some point in my busy life.
The film from which I best remember Mr. Hauer is one that doesn’t get mentioned so often. I saw it on HBO in the early 1990s and it affected me enough that I bought a VHS cassette of it. I’m referring to the 1991 film, Deadlock (otherwise known as Wedlock), which also starred Tom Cruise’s first ex wife, Mimi Rogers. Tom Cruise was Rogers’ second husband, and she is said to have introduced him to Scientology. Way to go, Mimi!
Anyway, Deadlock is the campy story of a man who gets sent to a privatized prison called Camp Holiday. There are no fences or bars. Instead, everyone wears a collar that is connected to another prisoner. The prisoners don’t know who they’re “wedded” to, but if they ever get further than 100 yards apart, the collars on both of them detonate, blowing their heads off. Men and women serve their time together. The warden tells them that as long as they stay behind the blue line, they’ll always been within 100 yards of every other prisoner. Since most people have a healthy sense of self-preservation and would rather not have their heads exploded by a collar, most everyone obeys the rules. I do remember one person not obeying and the special effects team getting the chance to show off their skills on two hapless guys.
Rutger Hauer is Frank Warren, who gets sent to prison for stealing millions of dollars worth of diamonds. He finds out he’s wedded to Tracy Riggs (played by Mimi Rogers). They manage to figure out they’re partners and escape the prison, although they’re still wearing the oppressive and dangerous self-detonating collars. I remember a few high anxiety scenes in which they get a little too far away from each other and the collars start to beep menacingly, warning them that they’re about to be blown to smithereens. Sweetening the story are Warren’s double-crossing, money hungry colleagues. Oh… and also, Frank and Tracy can’t stand each other.
I also remember a treatment the prisoners went through when they misbehaved. It was called “The Floaters”. They were forced to stay in a tank of water for a day. They lost the right to use their names. Instead they were given names of colors. Frank is Magenta and Tracy is Ivory.
I remember a couple of other memorable actors in this film. There was Stephen Tobolowsky, who plays the warden. He was also in Thelma & Louise, playing Max, one of the law enforcement officers tracking Thelma and Louise. I remember him advising Thelma’s husband to be “sweet” and “sensitive”, since “women love that shit”. And there was also Glenn Plummer, who plays Teal in this film, but also played Timmy Rawlins on ER.
I’m sure I’ve seen other stuff Rutger Hauer was in, but Deadlock is the only film that really sticks in my mind. I watched a lot of cheesy HBO films back in the day. I also got hooked on some of their series. I like bad TV… or, at least I used to when I was younger. As I’ve matured, my tastes in most things have evolved. I haven’t watched Deadlock in years and couldn’t watch it even if I wanted to, since all of my VCR tapes are in storage and I’m not sure if our VCR even works anymore.
Oh… and another movie I remember Hauer in is Escape from Sobibor, which is a film about Nazi Germany. I have that one on DVD, because I found it in a bargain bin at KMart or something. I’ve watched it a few times, though I’d be hard pressed to remember much about it now. It was about the biggest uprising among concentration camp prisoners during the Holocaust. It was probably made for TV. Maybe I’ll watch it again… or maybe I won’t. Hell, it’s on YouTube, so I won’t even have to fire up the DVD player. I’m just trying to stay cool during the latest heat wave.
Seriously, I know some of my friends are genuinely sad that Rutger Hauer died. I can’t say I’m sad, per se, since I wasn’t necessarily a big fan of his. I’m sorry that his friends and family will miss him. It looks like he led a good life and had plenty of memorable roles, even if the ones I remember him for are very minor and maybe not his finest work. Maybe it’s time I explored some of his more famous films. And… as a final note, I see this film did well enough that a made for TV sequel/remake was made starring Nia Peeples of Fame. Yikes!