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  • Writer's pictureGuy Jeffries

The Crow *Throwback SPOILER ALERT* Review

Director: Alex Proyas

Because Alex Proyas' Gods of Egypt is released this weekend, this week's #ThrowbackThursday is going to be his cult classic and directorial debut The Crow (1994) based on James O'Barr's dark and atmospheric graphic novel of the same name. Studios originally proposed the film to be a musical with Michael Jackson. And they were serious!

Director Alex Proyas started directing music videos and commercials for brands and bands such as Nike, INXS, Nissan, Sting and Crowded House, which might explain the strong musical overtone of the movie. After this, he went on to direct films like Dark City, I, Robot and Knowing.

O'Barr wasn't happy with the choice of Brandon Lee to star to begin with, worried the film would transform into a Kung Fu movie, and his other choices being Johhny Depp, River Phoenix and Christian Slater. However, he soon changed his mind when Lee arrived on set dressed and looking like the crow, quoting lines from the comic book.

It has been long said the production was cursed from the get go, reporting many unfortunate mishaps, not including the tragic fatal incident involving the death of Brandon Lee. The sets had suffered a hurricane, a fire and even the crews had been badly injury in more ways than a few. A neighbouring studio actually started placing bets on accidents happening.

Lee plays our antihero Eric Draven who is resurrected by a mystical crow a year after being brutally murdered, as the ultimate emo-goth immortal, vigilante to wreck vengeance on those that raped his wife and murdered them both. His mission of revenge is superbly played out with each killing being impressively creative, such as the death of TinTin being nicely edited and giving our Crow quite the sinister aura; jesting with each of his prey like a cat would to a mouse. The explosive death of T-Bird being my favourite and the fire-crow trademark left behind.

The second unit director must have been really busy with plenty of close-up shots which add a horror-film tint to the movie. Proyas originally wanted to film entirely in black and white apart from the flashback scenes but the studio decided against it, so instead he filmed in monochromatic using dark red and greys.

It's poetic, quoting lines from Shakespeare, Poe and Milton's Paradise Lost; and it has one of the most famous soundtracks in movie history. O'Barr being heavily influenced by Joy Division and The Cure whilst creating the graphic novel, this coupled with Proyas music video background made it a great platform for grudge music, actually influencing the way songs are used in films today. The Cure actually wrote the song 'Burn' especially for the movie, however, they have only ever preformed it once, live, since 1994. Other bands to appear on the album were Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against The Machine and Pantera, not forgetting Jane Siberry's iconic song 'It Can't Rain All The Time.'

Not only does the film boast an amazing soundtrack album but Graeme Revell composes a perfect score that's both enchanting and haunting with some great use of electric guitars. Listen to tracks 'Believe In Angels', 'Pain and Retribution' and 'Inferno'. The production design, costume and makeup are brilliant as well bringing the comic book to life, especially for being under so much stress and a tight budget; and kudos for finishing the film after Lee's untimely death using CGI and body doubles. Even the poster is iconic and the font being in common usage for gothic themed projects ever since.

The film has a great cast including Ghostbuster, Ernie Hudson as the friendly local beat cop, regular bad guy David Kelly Patrick from The Warriors, Commando and more recently as the cleaner in John Wick. Candyman's Tony Todd plays an aide to one of my favourite character bad guys, husky-voiced, long-haired Michael Wincott, this being one of his key roles among Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and 1492: Conquest of Paradise. Rochelle Davis, who plays the girl Sarah, didn't do any more acting apart from a low-budget horror flick in 2009, Hell House and a film called Grotesque which is due to be released later this year.

I'm not going to go into detail surrounding the accidental death of Brandon Lee, but seems coincidental with the curse of the Lee's first male born. James O'Barr bought his Mother a car and a surround sound system for himself from the profits he received, the rest he donated because of how he felt about Brandon Lee, considering him as a friend, it felt wrong to profit essentially from his death. This he had kept secret for many years as he states "It's not charity if you get credit for it."

This film has always been one of my personal favourites, now being a cult classic spawning the the following, unsuccessful sequels, The City of Angels (1996) Stairway to Heaven (1998) Salvation (2000) and Wicked Prayer (2005).

Running Time: 9

The Cast: 8

Performance: 8

Direction: 9

Story: 9

Script: 8

Creativity: 9

Soundtrack: 10

Job Description: 10

The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for being an iconic cult classic and a stand alone film. There isn't anything else quite like it.

90% 9/10

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