WARNING: You haven't see The Crow? DON'T READ THIS! Go rent the movie! Then read it.
"The Crow is the horror genre’s Hamlet. " - John Fallon aka The Arrow
"Other than greed, there’s no reason to do this.” - James O Barr on The Crow remake
I still remember when I first saw the original THE CROW (directed by Alex Proyas) in theaters (it was released on May 11, 1994 ). I had gone by myself on a matinee during the week; there was like 3 people in the theater with me, hence making for quite the intimate viewing. I recollect being beyond moved by the picture for varied reasons; the heart wrenching subject matter, the striking visuals, the jaw dropping Gothic sets, the powerful editing (I learned so much about editing just by watching this movie), the poignant score by Gramme Revell, the badass rock soundtrack (Burn by The Cure will always be my fav from that one) and of course Brandon Lee's affable and intense performance. I was a Lee fan at the time (Showdown in Little Toyko, Rapid Fire) and the fact that his passing was still fresh in my mind (he died on March 31, 1993) DEFINITELY added to the haunting and sad feel of the piece.
NOTE: For those who don't know; Brandon Lee died 8 days before the oddly accident prone shoot (so many peeps got injured while making this flick) was to wrap, shooting his character's death scene no less...brrr. Lee's character of Eric Draven gets shot by Michael Massee's character of FunBoy. Unknown to everybody though, there was a bullet stuck in the barrel of the gun Massee used. Being that the gun expert wasn't on set and that the gun wasn't inspected before they shot the scene; once fired; the blank prompted the bullet lodged in the barrel to shoot out; hitting Lee in the stomach. That's what killed him. Traumatized by the event, actor Michael Massee quit acting for a year and has yet to see the finished film. END NOTE.
This movie itself addressed themes that I am very close to: true love, death and revenge and I'll be honest, I teared up many o times during that first watch. I mean it was a film that celebrated Lee but that at the same time; it amped up as to how TRAGIC his death was. Now that I think of it; THE CROW, be it the excellent graphic novel or the movie were creations born out of death. The novel was a cathartic way for James O Barr to deal with the passing of his then fiancee (killed by a drunk driver) while the film was halted by Lee's demise but then eventually finished and released, driven by his passing, all in the name of honoring him. You can't fake something like that; THE CROW was a story born out of loss and pain and the movie, much like the graphic novel, wore that on its sleeve.
So, after that screening; I was hooked on all that was THE CROW and went on to devour anything I could find about it. I nabbed James O Barr's original graphic novel, started collecting the varied comics, I dressed up as The Crow on like 3 Halloweens in a row and even got a The Crow tattoo done on my right bicep (see it here). I know it's based on the design for The Crow City of Angels but hey, I liked that art the most. Now I've found things to dig in all of The Crow sequels (yes even Wicked Prayer) and Mark Dacascos did okay in the tepid TV show. But lets face it none of the other Crow entries even came close to the artistry that was the original while none of the other Crow actors managed to match Brandon Lee's visceral performance.
This scene gives me chills every single time I see it...
So after 3 ho-hum sequels and one lame TV Show, in my book; unless they went the “female Crow” route with the franchise; there was no point in continuing it. And then the freaking remake talk started polluting the air. Rowdy Herrington and Mark Walhberg were up to bat at some point but we thankfully dodged that bullet as it didn’t go down. Alas, it's now on like Donkey Kong. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has signed on to direct the remake and Bradley Cooper (Really man?!) is being tossed out there as the new Eric Draven (yeesh...dude may surprise me, but I hate his casting at this point). To be honest with yall; when I heard that Fresnadillo signed on; I did feel a sprinkle of hope being that the dude did wonders with 28 Weeks Later. With that stabbed; I'd trade in a THE CROW REMAKE for a proper DIRECTOR'S CUT of the film quicker than you can spell "Fire it up!"
Ya see, THE CROW's particular history has resulted in lots of deleted footage floating out there. There are 11 minutes of film (mostly all Brandon Lee related) that were deleted from the final cut of the flick due to it getting an X Rating stamped on its ass. And there's the SKULL COWBOY sequences that were snipped out (thank Crom). There's actually a Workprint of the flick out there which sports mucho extensions on scenes, more gore and some alternate takes. Now I know that Alex Proyas has stated in the past that he wants to get a Director's Cut of the move out there. Last I heard of it was in 2009, and here we are in 2011; no Director's Cut. It seems that the Studio won't cough up the coin for it... yet. If I go by the rule of Hollywood "thumb up its ass", the planned remake will probably result in that D-Cut being green lit, just so they can double cash-in when release time swoops down on us. Sigh.
Another shiver inducing scene...
Now, having gone through the varied snipped out footage from THE CROW; admittally lots of the stuff that was cut out, was slashed away for good reason. The SKULL COWBOY (who was played by The Hills Have Eyes baddie Michael Berryman BTW) bits for example; although the character worked in the graphic novel; I don't see him adding anything substantial to the flick; he would actually drag it down IMO; one player too many. With that, here's what I'd like to see re-instated in a THE CROW DIRECTOR'S CUT, am talking with proper color correcting, CG work if need be and sound design of course.
SCENES THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN THE DIRECTOR'S CUT
A boy and his bird...
SKANK GETS SHOT: This one I'm not 100% on as it may hurt the flow of the overall scene. In the theatrical cut of The Crow, we witness Skank run out of the liquor store, limping after T-Bird's car. Ya see Draven has taken T-Bird and his car hostage and they're out of there! Why was he limping though? Cause in an cut out scene; Skank was shot in the liquor store by two punk ass kids that were holding it up. I'd like to see that bit back in! It may work, it may not, but am curious.
THE MAIN SHOOT OUT: The shoot-out set piece in Top Dollar's pad is mucho badass as-is. But I would murder the world twice over to see this uncut version of it slapped back in the film, which features more lines and further bloodshed. In my opinion; the uncut version of the scene carries a much heftier punch. Imagine seeing the scene below cleaned up?! It needs back in!
THE FUNBOY BIT: I always felt that the FunBoy buys the farm scene felt incomplete in the theatrical cut. Too much offscreen shite. Then I found this uncut sequence which shows more physical conflict between Eric and Funboy. Funboy actually attacks Eric here, cutting him with a razor (which explains the electric tape bandages he has on his hand and stomach later on in the movie). Now re-instating that scene would result in a slight plot hole. How's that? Well in another cut out bit, one that I wouldn't slap back in, the SKULL COWBOY explains to Eric WHY he didn't heal by himself (too weak, after ejecting the morphine out of Darla). But hey I can live with it if I get this scene back in. PS: The effects in this one need some CG polishing IMO.
GIDEON'S DEATH: In the work-print of the film, "Chrome Dome's" death is much meaner, gorier and drawn out than in the final cut of the movie, hence way more satisfying from an audience's point of view...scratch that...from my point of view. I want it back in, in all of its uncut glory!
THE CHURCH FINALE: The uncut version of this "John Woo-ish" action scene has more blood, more bullet hits and more extended deaths scenes for the villains. Why pull back on all them goodies? Give it to me raw yo! I'm a grown man, I can take it!
WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE REMOVED IN THE DIRECTOR'S CUT?
Sing it! "I wanna get high...so high..."
Funnily enough of all the faults the film has (some cheesy lines, plot devices that didn't work for me); its Ernie Hudson's faux smoking that gets to me the most every time I see the movie. It is so obvious that dude is not a smoker and that he's not inhaling when he puffs off his smokes. Shite, he can't even hold a cancer stick right in some scenes. It's not a joint man, its a cigarette! So yeah, if we could edit his onscreen smoking down; at least the shots where he looks ridiculous doing it, that would be swell. It hurts the character's cred IMO.
And that's it. Not that much of a tall order right? What's taking so long! In closing THE CROW was and is still is to this day, a unique viewing experience, one with a history that fuels what is onscreen, one filled with emotion and audio/visual devices that floor me every time I clock the movie. There is more to it than the theatrical cut we got out there; and I wanna see it; the full picture; the film that Alex Proyas delivered before the censors/Studio got their shit infested paws on it. So get your heads out of your asses Hollywood and make it happen! Genre classics like this don't happen often, so when they do, you got to give them the respect they deserve. As for the remake? Hey maybe it will be good; but I'd shoot it in the face, nail it doggy dry and throw it out the f*cking window in a heartbeat if it means I'd get this Director's Cut yesterday.
"If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever."