Skindeep: Confessions of a Blade Runner Fanatic
by Jovanka Vuckovic
I remember the first time I saw Blade Runner. I caught it on television late one night in an insomniac fugue back when I was still in grade school. Its sombre tone, visual sophistication and majestic score mesmerized me. But more than that, I was stunned by its challenging thematic density. What does it mean to be human? Are our memories, which we count on as evidence of our existence, reliable artifacts of that existence? Does sentience equal life? The experience was so sublime that, in the morning, I thought I had dreamt it all.
Just in time for the film’s 25th anniversary, a new version, dubbed Blade Runner: Final Cut, is slated to be released in a limited theatrical run this year. It will restore deleted scenes that never made it into the Director’s Cut (which Scott was never satisfied with but gets an updated DVD release). Following that, Warner will release the Ultimate Edition DVD set, which will contain four different versions (US Theatrical, Expanded International, Director’s Cut and Final Cut). I’m salivating!
The producer of the DVD, the talented Charlie de Lauzirika, and I met on the set of George Romero’s Land of the Dead; we were both cast as zombies thanks to our pals Greg Nicotero and father Romero. The two of us made friends while breaking bread in full zombie make-up (complete with those uncomfortable sclera lenses that blind you). During our conversation, we discovered we’re both gargantuan Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick fans as well as horror aficionados. He gave me the scoop on his plans to create this fantastic DVD collection and plans were put in motion for me, along with many others, to appear on the extras. A couple of years later, his project has come to fruition and De Lauzirika has kept his promise.
It’s an exciting time for this Blade Runner junkie. I live for this movie in a way no one else does. It’s the film that turned me into a rabid cinephile. Though I’m the Editor-in-Chief of Rue Morgue Magazine, an internationally distributed horror in culture and entertainment publication, my favourite film is Blade Runner. That always seems to surprise people, but anyone who’s as obsessed with the movie as much as I am isn’t surprised at all. In fact, I love this futuristic 1940s detective thriller so much I’ve dedicated the flesh of my left arm to it.
Back in 2002, after almost a decade of searching for the right artist to complete my “Blade Runner sleeve,” I found Shane Faulkner at King of Fools Custom Tattoos in Toronto. He was as much a film fan as I and, more importantly, a vehement Blade Runner junkie. I heaped my pile of BR collectables on him: my first-run edition of the Cinefex BR issue, copies of Cinefantastique, Omni, the Marvel Blade Runner comics, my copy of Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner (widely considered the “Blade Runner bible” by fans), high-res Syd Mead sketches hoarded from various BR fan sites (including Bladezone.com, the best there is), and more. In two months, he had drafted a compilation of my favourite elements from the movie.
Near the outside top of my shoulder, Roy Batty sits expired on top of the Bradbury building in the rain. The dove he has released in death flies just outside the border of the sleeve. Underneath, a Police Spinner its beam trained onto a silhouette of Deckard, his coat collar flipped up, standing on a rooftop gazing at the top of the Police Headquarters, where another tiny spinner can be seen landing in a puff of smoke and dust.
Floating through the night sky is the Off-World blimp, its columns of light falling on a billboard of a geisha (in the film, this ad has her washing down a birth control pill with Coca Cola). On the inside of my arm lies the film’s opening: the industrial wasteland and orange Tyrell pyramids with the reflection of Holden’s eye above it (eyes and seeing are recurring themes in the movie). Another spinner can be found in the ditch of my elbow, and various noxious gasses and flames litter the piece below near ground level. Finally, wrapped around my forearm is a running unicorn – a testament to my belief that Deckard is indeed a replicant, a position that usually pisses most BR fans off.
People hate the idea that Deckard could be an android, which is a shame because it gives him more depth. Like Rachel, he’s so perfect he might not even know he’s not human. As Deckard says: “How can it not know what it is?” There is a beautiful irony in that hypothesis. Years after the film’s initial release, director Ridley Scott himself would admit that Deckard is indeed a replicant, and that he dropped those clues in his Director’s Cut to give it away. The evidence given about Deckard is indeed subtle, but undeniably present, and I pray to the god of biomechanics that the Final Cut will reveal what I’ve always known about him, once and for all: androids do dream of electric sheep.
Edited by Gary Carden
Photographs by Libby Telford