May 10, 2011

The Crow (1994)

"A man brutally murdered comes back to life as an undead avenger of his and his fiancée's murder."

I know that I'm going to be torn apart for this but I rewatched "The Crow" earlier and now wonder why I put it in the "Video Vault" since it isn't actually a horror film at all.

I hadn't really thought about it too much before but I can now see that "The Crow" was little more than a comicbook reworking of "High Plains Drifter" (1973) or "The Wraith" (1986). We all know the tragedy that surrounds Brandon Lee's finest hour and "The Crow" is still a great film but is it horror? No.

Seventeen years ago, horror movies had dried-up in much the same way as they have recently. People and, more importantly, the studios just weren't interested. Coppola's "Dracula" (1992) had been a bigger success than it would have been in the heyday of the '80s and we were yet to discover the joys of "trendy teen horror" films such as "Scream" (1996), "The Craft" (1996), and "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997). Into the middle of this came "The Crow" and, quite frankly, we were all completely blown away by it.

Unfortunately, we've now had slews of badly made no-budget handycam independents, torture porn and CGI fuelled remakes to sour our taste buds so when it comes to reviewing (or quite literally re-viewing) "The Crow" there is always an element of seeing it through rose-tinted glasses. Personally, I love nearly everything about "The Crow" and what it stood for at the time so of course I'm biased.

From the noirish, neo-gothic, and just completely dark and uncomfortable setting of Alex Proyas' alternative Detroit (actually Los Angeles), everything about "The Crow" screams horror movie. Brutal murders, returning from the dead and, let's be honest, more than a few nods to Edgar Allan Poe, should place "The Crow" firmly in supernatural horror territory. But, if you look past these gimmicks, the heart of "The Crow" is an action film.

Thus I've been torn about keeping it in the "Video Vault" for the same reasons that I wouldn't necessarily put "Batman Returns" (1992) in there either. Is it nasty, scary or horrific enough to stay?

Well, I'm pleased to say that, if you are in the right frame of mind, "The Crow" is absolutely terrifying at times. Horrific? Yes, indeed. Brutal? Some of the kills easily equal anything from the the 2000s but they are done with considerably more style. "The Crow" may have had a target audience of wannabe-goth comicbook nerds but I'm sure it can still hold its own for horror geeks as well.

The only weak points of "The Crow" are in the editing. Since I've already alluded to Brandon Lee's accidental death at the time of filming, you know that "The Crow" isn't exactly how it was meant to be. The admittedly very skilful editing obviously saved it but you can't help but wonder what might have been. Well, I know I do. The bits that have always thrown me are Eric's weaker more human moments towards the end but some people love those even more than the badass version.

Since I doubt that any of us haven't seen "The Crow" there's little point in me going through how awesome the acting is, especially Michael Wincott as "Top Dollar", David Patrick Kelly as "T-Bird" and. my favourite, Jon Polito as foul-mouthed pawnbroker "Gideon". I can even admit to fancying Darla (Anna Levine) for all the wrong reasons though perhaps I shouldn't.

So, yes, I am still recommending "The Crow" to everybody. This is what my generation had back in the day instead of "Twilight" and I think we got the better deal. It may not be a real horror film per se (and how I hate "South Park" for making me sound like an emo when I write those words) but it certainly contains enough genre elements to make it such. If we can can count the also comicbook action film "Blade" (1998) as a horror because of the vampire elements then I think "The Crow" should be seen as the ultimate supernatural action movie too.

What do you think?

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