River Phoenix

Started by Finn, June 13, 2005, 12:30:39 AM

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A great talent, he could've had such a great career. I think "My Own Private Idaho" was probably his best role. He was really good in "Explorers" too. May he rest in peace.
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Trailer for River Phoenix's Final, Unfinished Film 'Dark Blood,' Plus Interview With Director George Sluizer
via The Playlist

It's a well-documented slice of Hollywood history where River Phoenix went the night of his untimely death, but what's lesser known about is the halted production that the young actor was shooting at the time. Dutch director George Sluizer was ten days from wrapping on his film with Phoenix, "Dark Blood," when he received news of his lead actor's death, and from then on the film was never released or spoken of again. However, since we last received news that Sluizer was forging on ahead, re-assembling the film as a tribute for completion and release, now there's an update and trailer to further hint at what remains of Phoenix's final role.

After apparently finding a logical way to patch narrative gaps in the film, Sluizer now faces the long journey of post-production, and is taking to the Dutch crowd-funding site CineCrowd to raise money for those costs. He's also added two videos -- a trailer for the film showing off hints of story, and a slightly melancholy confessional from Sluizer himself, telling of a personal event that pushed him to attempt finishing the film. "[The] fact is, I suddenly became ill about 4 years ago -- an aneurysm -- and was told my years could be limited," Sluizer said. "So I wanted to finish the movie now. It came as an urgency to me, but I also knew there was still good film material."

Given Sluizer's previous films, including the suspense classic "The Vanishing," there's little doubt that "Dark Blood" contains some fantastic footage, but for now the focus still remains on its editing stages. From the CineCrowd website, Sluizer hopes the film "will have its world premiere at the Dutch Film Festival later this year, provided the post-production budget gets fully funded." As is also the requirement these days for crowd-funded projects, Sluizer has a tier-based reward system set up, with the lowest getting a personal thank you card, and the highest receiving a producer credit on the finished film.

Since the Phoenix family is apparently none too happy about Sluizer's attempts, it's unfortunately down to the director and his team to see that the finished film gets released. Hopefully though, with a little help from the public, "Dark Blood" can be finished to as close a perfect version as possible, and will see its first showing in September as planned. Until then, check out the trailer and interview below.

Donate to complete this project at CineCrowd


Final River Phoenix Film 'Dark Blood' To Make U.S. Premiere At Miami International Film Festival
via The Playlist

Okay, so here's the background: A little over a year ago, director George Sluizer announced that he was going to finish River Phoenix's final film "Dark Blood," by re-cutting the footage and using voiceover to patch up narrative gaps. The Phoenix family washed their hands of the effort, releasing a statement that they would not be participating in the venture, but Sluzier pushed on. Overcoming some legal hurdles, and finding a way to finish the movie that only had 11 days left to shoot when Phoenix died, he crossed the finish line and at the Dutch Film Festival last fall, premiered the completed work. And now, it's coming to the United States.

The Miami International Film Festival announced they will be hosting the North American premiere of the movie. The film tells the story of a young, widowed man who lives on a remote nuclear testing site, who takes in a jet-set couple (Judy Davis and Jonathan Pryce) when their car breaks down, and begins a troubled relationship with the former. Here's the full synopsis:

Jet-set Hollywood couple Harry (Jonathan Pryce) and Buffy (Judy Davis) travel through the desert on a second honeymoon, trying to save their marriage.  Their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere leaving them to find shelter in Boy's (River Phoenix) beaten down shack, unaware they will become his prisoners.  Boy's wife died of leukemia after nuclear tests occurred in the desert leaving him alone and far away from society.  Buffy is seduced by Boy's honesty and vulnerabilities, while Harry represents everything Boy hates about the civilized world and its culture.  Buffy decides to sleep with Boy to buy the couple's freedom, but these circumstances will push Harry to the edge, leading to a terrible tragedy.

No matter what you might think about Sluzier finishing the movie, it certainly wasn't something that was decided on a whim. Sluzier saved the footage from being burned in 1999, and it was only a decade later when he decided to try and complete it, spurred by his health issues. "[The] fact is, I suddenly became ill about 4 years ago -- an aneurysm -- and was told my years could be limited," Sluizer said in video posted to a crowfunding campaign for the project. "So I wanted to finish the movie now. It came as an urgency to me, but I also knew there was still good film material."

So, we'll soon see the results. No word yet on if there will be theatrical release of some kind, but perhaps keep your eyes peeled on festival circuit for now. The Miami International Film Festival runs from March 1-10.


I saw some Biography or that type of thing on River recently. It was weird to hear his brother's young voice on the 911.
Sad last day. He was working with an actress he admired who seemed to be very cold to him on set (filming a love scene no less), and then he hoped to play guitar at The Viper Room, but Flea wouldn't let him play that night. I had always heard about the Depp/Viper Room connection, but not the Flea one.
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Enjoyed those pages you shared. I'll have to read the book at some point. I might be getting my history wrong, but isn't there some thought that DiCaprio's career really took off when he started getting the roles River would have been offered had he lived to see the light of day? If that's the case DiCap's near brush with him the night of his death is even more bizarre and haunting.

As far as Dark Blood goes, there's no word on US distribution yet. It's "available", but not in great quality.

Here are some production stills:

And here are some not production stills:

I'm going to wait.

Also, that Afterschool Special Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia will have to be looked into. It has an absolutely genius plotline:

13-year-old boy has problems reading, which his teachers attribute to laziness. It is later discovered that he has Dyslexia.


Lionsgate Picks Up U.S. Distribution Rights To River Phoenix's Final Film 'Dark Blood'
via The Playlist

When River Phoenix sadly passed away at the age of 23 in 1993, there were eleven days left to shoot on what would be his final film, "Dark Blood." And as you might imagine, production halted following his death. But in 2011, just under two decades since the project was stopped in its tracks, director George Sluzier endeavored to finish the film by re-cutting the footage and using voiceover to fill in the parts that weren't shot. The result? Well, we saw it in Berlin and essentially, it acts better as "a fitting and ironic tribute to a life ended before it could be finished" than a movie, perhaps, but you'll soon be able to judge for yourself.

Lionsgate has snapped up the U.S. rights to the film, and will be releasing it on VOD. But more interesting, we're curious to see the reaction of the Phoenix family given that they have indicated they have no interest in participating in anything to do with "Dark Blood." Check out the press release below.


Cannes, May 16 2014. - Cinemavault has announced it has sold North American rights to Lionsgate for DARK BLOOD. This unique film saw production halted in 1993 following the death of its star River Phoenix (STAND BY ME)

The feature film is directed and co-written by George Sluizer (THE VANISHING, THE COMMISSIONER) who spent years battling to complete the film.

In 1993 the insurance company of the film attacked River Phoenix for drug abuse , lost the claim in 1998  and decided to destroy the negative of Dark Blood, but Director George Sluizer managed to save the film and preserve the creative talent from being lost.  In 2012 he was  able , using the existing negative, to edit and finally give life to the unfinished  movie DARK BLOOD.


DARK BLOOD  was invited  in the Main Program of the International Film Festival of Berlin in 2013 and received standing ovations.

It was further invited at the International Festivals of Miami, Hongkong, Istanbul, Copenhagen, Bucharest (Transylvania), Seattle, Moscow, Jerusalem, Durban, Montreal, Split (Croatia), Sao Paulo, Taipeh (Taiwan), Glasgow and Brussels, and the European Film Academy.

DARK BLOOD tells the story of Boy (Phoenix) a young widower who retreats to the desert after his wife dies of radiation following nuclear tests near their home. Boy is waiting for the end of the world and carves Katchina dolls that supposedly contain magical powers. Harry (Pryce) and Buffy (Davis) travel to the desert on a second honeymoon in an attempt to save their marriage. Their Bentley breaks down in the middle of nowhere and Boy rescues the couple. Haunted by the memories of his wife, Boy holds them prisoner because of his desire for the woman and his ambition to create a better world with her.

"The story behind the making of a film can be as intriguing as the film itself. An actor with undeniable talent has his life cut short before he could fully realize his potential. This is a time capsule. A piece of history."

DARK BLOOD is currently in theaters in Japan under Culture Convenience Club, scheduled to be released in Brazil with Esfera Filmes, South Korea with AUD Cinema, and in Turkey with Digiturk.


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