Have you seen Fluke? If that question returns the response that I’ve grown accustomed to, then your answer like doesn’t bode well for the film’s legacy (or unfortunate lack thereof). A childhood favorite of mine, Fluke tells the story of a husband and father who is killed in a car accident and reincarnated as a mutt puppy. Throughout the film, we witness the puppy mature into an adult dog, all the while leading an interesting life and having vivid memories of the human life that came before it. It’s a pretty great film, you should check it out.
Part of Fluke‘s appeal, however, is the fervent sense of danger that our leading-mutt is constantly cast into. Regardless of how often I watched the film as a child, I always worried for Fluke because the danger felt all too real. Much of the credit for that can be attributed to the brilliant Ron Perlman. In the film, Perlman plays Sylvester, a gnarly-looking man who Fluke doesn’t take kindly to. This is a bad guy and Fluke knows it- and due to the menacing scowl and unhinged temper of Ron Perlman’s performance, the viewer never doubts it either.
Soon after we’re introduced to Sylvester, he abducts Fluke in order for him to be used in the makeup experiments of a cosmetic corporation. I was a sensitive kid, so seeing Fluke and all of the other animals in captivity proper fucked with my emotions- but not even that could prepare me for what Sylvester would do next.
Fluke’s BFF Rumbo, a street-wise dog voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, comes to rescue Fluke and lead him away from the laboratory. The two dogs escape from the lab (along with all the other animals), but as they’re trekking across the premises, Sylvester angrily fires a gun at Fluke, intending to kill him, but instead hitting and killing Rumbo. I was four years old when I watched Fluke for the first time. Four. I’d already begun my affair with horror movies, but not even those could adequately prepare me for the death of Rumbo. With this action, Sylvester became the first cinematic villain that I ever remember hating, and for several years following his performance, it remained the role that Ron Perlman would be linked to for me.
As I aged and movies & television completely took over my life, I became obsessed with actors and their performances. Around the time Blade II came out, I realized that I could no long only connect Ron Perlman with the bastard Sylvester because his meaty filmography was constantly progressing with impressive entries and performances. His work with superstar director Guillermo del Toro in films such as the aforementioned Blade sequel, Pacific Rim, and the stellar Hellboy films (I’m still bummed that we’re not getting a third entry) defined him as an actor that I admire and idolize. While those may be his most popular films to date, there are several other Ron Perlman roles that I’ve taken to as well.
From the time that I was a baby, basically, horror has been my favorite genre of film. Two little-known horror films that I’m particularly fond of, both featuring Ron Perlman, are Stephen King’s Desperation and the brilliant horror comedy, I Sell the Dead. Perlman’s roles in these films are vastly different and still somehow share villainous similarities. In Desperation, Ron Perlman is especially horrifying as Collie Entragian, the possessed town sheriff who oozes evil. Entragian is undoubtedly Perlman’s most frightening performance, yet he still remained less of a monster than that goddamn Rumbo-killing Sylvester. At the risk of spoiling I Sell the Dead for any horror fans who’ve yet to check it out, however, I won’t divulge in the particulars of Perlman’s role. Just go watch it. Now. Please?
Aside from the del Toro films and his horror movies, Ron Perlman solidified his place among my favorite actors with his role in the FX crime drama Sons of Anarchy. Beginning the highly acclaimed series as a vigilante hero of sorts, the performance of Perlman as Clay Morrow is perhaps his most intricate and layered, as we see the character progressively revealed as one of the story’s main antagonists. Clay is a character you’ll love, a character you’ll hate, and a character you’ll love to hate. There’s not an actor in the business who could pull off this role with remotely the same success as Ron Perlman.
In addition to these performances, Perlman is also a published author. His 2014 memoir “Easy Street (the Hard Way)” is a candid and hilarious look at the man behind the actor, and it’s absolutely worth seeking out.
I’m only 25 years old, but I’ve lived long enough for Ron Perlman to go from the slimiest dog-killing movie villain that a four-year-old could stomach to an acting hero of mine. Things like that tend to change with time, but make no mistake about it… Ron Perlman was, is, and shall always be THE ultimate badass. I forgive you for killing Rumbo. Happy Birthday, Mr. Perlman!