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The Good Die Young . . . And Some Come Back From the Grave

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The Crow might be the eeriest movie ever made. The plot, about a murdered man who rises from the dead to avenge his and his fiancee's death, is just the beginning of the spookiness.

The spectral protagonist, Eric Draven, is mesmerizingly portrayed by Brandon Lee. For the macabre story behind the story, Brandon, the actor, who was engaged to be married, was killed accidentally during the filming of his death scene in The Crow. Brandon's father, the martial arts hero Bruce Lee, died in 1973 while filming Game of Death. Thus, the immortal images of film show a dead actor, the son of a dead actor, playing a dead man risen from the grave.

Furthermore, The Crow is based on the comic book series by James O'Barr, who created the character to release some of his rage after his own fiancee was brutally murdered. All these macabre coincidences could make a person's skin crawl more than any Stephen King novel.

Several people deserve credit for rescuing this film from catastrophe. Shaken by Lee's death, director Alex Proyas, halted production for a month, but Lee's mother and fiancee convinced Proyas to complete the film as an eulogy for a brilliant career cut short. Reworking the film added an additional $8 million to the $15 million budget, and Paramount, the original distributor of the movie, dropped it. Miramax, the new distributor, consulted the family and carefully marketed the film without exploiting the tragedy.

Knowing its history makes this witty, dark, gothic mythos a haunting and unforgettable experience. The hyperviolent film, however, is not for the squeamish because blood and body parts abound as the story's utterly vile villains meet poetic justice, vigilante style, from the dark angel of wrath.

Copyright 1994 Mark D. Stucky.
Published originally in Integra, July 1994.

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