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The Crow: 30 Years After Brandon Lee's Death

The Crow was released in 1994, making it 30 years since Brandon Lee's tragic death and almost three decades since the dark gothic thriller's grand unveiling. Based on James o' Barr's comic of the same name, it was adapted into a film by David S. Schow and John Shirley, and directed by Alex Proyas. The Australian filmmaker embarked on The Crow as his second feature, after being instrumental in the making a post-apocalyptic sci-fi film debut with Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds.

Following it up with Dark City four years later, Proyas went on to direct Garage Days, I, Robot and Knowing before his promising run culminated in the ill-fated Gods of Egypt. Having directed two short films recently, including Mask of the Evil Apparition set in Dark City's cinematic universe, it seems as though he's trying to resurrect his film career with one of his stand outs.

The Crow, however, remains a film that probably inspired the world-building of Dark City, a story about a dark avenging angel who comes back from the dead to seek revenge and reunite with his beloved. It's a fascinating concept, which will probably have a remake in the not-too-distant future with young audiences discovering these old school gems but craving a modern treatment. Starring Bill Skarsgård, who played Pennywise the clown in It, it should draw waves of renewed interest in the character. Trying to find out if The Crow is a DC or Marvel entity, it's clear that the supernatural aspect to this dark "superhero" type cult classic still holds weight in an age where superhero fatigue is weighing in.

Steering into the realm of Doctor Strange, it's not a bad time for something with a touch of horror to get this kind of treatment, based on the divisive yet still promising reception of Sam Raimi's Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. As it stands, The Crow has its old school charms, attracting a Heath Ledger type infamy based on Brandon Lee's untimely death with echoes from the incident on the set of Alec Baldwin's western gone wrong, Rust. Even the Joker's make up effect echoes the scary clown face killer idea of Eric Draven or The Crow, a film that probably also inspired movies like Boondock Saints, Constantine and possibly even The Purge and The Matrix.

Using a great deal of strobe effects, The Crow should probably come with a warning, especially considering how dark the rest of the film is, having The Crow moving between the city's long shadows. While effectively a western with the idea of a stranger coming to clean up the streets, Lee's involvement capitalises on martial arts as well as tipping the hat to the popularity of The Highlander with a bit of swordplay.

The Crow - Brandon Lee

Coming out just before Strange Days with the common denominator of the oh-so-90s villain, Michael Wincott, this was also a time when disillusioned alternative music was at an all-time high with the likes of Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and Alice in Chains ripping up the music charts. Together with Natural Born Killers, these film soundtracks were some of the most emotive and powerful alternative "mix tapes" of the era, resonating strongly with Draven's role as the lead guitarist of a band.

The Crow literally features a crow, which serves as a spirit guide and companion to Eric in his invincible state. Featuring quite frequently, it becomes the mascot for this iconic action thriller. An impressive feat considering how often filmmakers warn against working with children and creatures. It's difficult to figure out when Lee's tragedy happened based on the film being complete. However, as with many films they aren't necessarily shot in chronological order, which makes it interesting to note that the shot that led to his death was in the apartment scene where he and his fiancée were attacked by thugs.

While Lee wears makeup on his face, his present performance captures the bloodlust and manic disposition of the character, at a time when superhero movies weren't taken nearly as seriously as the age of Batman Begins. While the sequence of kills and villains are over-the-top at times, aiming for a stylised violence to make revenge an art form... The Crow still holds up in spite of its choppy edit and full crank dialogue. Dated by its moody music and grunge era affectations, there's a playful spirit - harnessing Edgar Allan Poe and malevolence of the anarchy-laden ritual that is Devil's Night.

A world not too far removed from this one, which probably originally took some notes from Gotham City, The Crow remains a curiousity. A dark vision, inextricably linked to the era by music and made all the more enigmatic by the undercurrent of tragedy left in the wake of its lead's death, it's fuzzy aura, comic book sensibilities, cult appeal and throwback charm keep it relevant almost 30 years later. While Miramax took a bold decision to release the final product when many studios took a wide berth, it just seems like a greater tragedy would have played out if it never found its way to screen.