Music of THE CROW
Artist James O’Barr’s The Crow was originally a series of indie comics that were published in the late 80s and later turned into a comprehensive graphic novel. It told the tale of Eric Draven, a Detroit based rock musician who is murdered along with his fiancee Shelly on Devil’s Night. A year later Eric rises from the grave to seek vengeance on the criminals who were responsible for their deaths. While the premise is fairly simple, what makes the story so special is how O’Barr brought a personal tragedy to the story. His girlfriend was killed by a drunk driver and by creating The Crow he found a way to deal with his grief. The art by O’Barr is beautifully rendered in black and white and the story blurs the line between supernatural gothic romance novel and violent crime comics.
In 1994, The Crow was brought to the silver screen and Brandon Lee was cast in the lead role. This part was meant to be his big Hollywood movie debut. He had done some low budget films such as Showdown in Little Tokyo and Rapid Fire previously, but The Crow was going to take him to the next level of stardom.
While filming a scene in which a gun is fired at his character, Brandon was accidentally shot in the abdomen, it was a truly freak occurrence that was the result of a dummy bullet cap being lodged in the prop guns chamber. Brandon was brought to the hospital and after several hours in intensive care he passed away. He was 28 years old.
The Crow went on to develop a cult classic status partly because of the strange circumstances surrounding Lee’s death. The film was not entirely completed when Lee died, so body doubles were used along with CGI so the film could be released. Many scenes that don’t show Lee’s face aren’t really him. For example, in the main sequence where Eric creates his Crow character with the iconic makeup, he is shown walking to his apartment window as The Cure’s “Burn” (listen at top of page) plays and lightning flashes. This was a computer graphic of Lee’s face superimposed over his stand-in.
What makes The Crow still so resonant is the film’s own storyline about death and returning from the grave. Furthermore, it connects to his father Bruce Lee’s early passing and what many believed to be a family curse. In yet another bizarre twist, in Bruce Lee’s final film (which was, like The Crow, unfinished) Game of Death, his character (later played by a stand-in) is shot on a film set.
Regardless of those eerie, mysterious aspects, Brandon Lee is truly great in this film as Eric. His bloodthirsty, vengeful, ghost-like aura mixed with another more human side showing someone who is sympathetic to the pain living people must endure was just very special and memorable.
The Crow’s stylized visuals and set designs are another reason why it has become so popular with film fans. It brings to mind such films as Blade Runner and Tim Burton’s Batman with it’s dark, gothic atmosphere. The supporting cast featuring familiar villainous faces like Michael Wincott (Strange Days) and David Patrick Kelly (The Warriors, Last Man Standing) just add that much more fun to the proceedings.
The soundtrack for the film is certainly one of the best of the 90s. At the time the whole grunge craze was just about over and the bands chosen to reflect musically the violent revenge Eric seeks are as hard rocking as they get. There’s a variety of genres represented from classic goth rock to industrial to rap-metal. The book the film is based on is also heavily influenced by music by groups such as The Cure, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, Jim Carroll Band, Bauhaus and Joy Division.
With the popularity of the first film, producers decided to do several sequels (subtitles: City of Angels, Stairway To Heaven, Salvation, Wicked Prayer) substituting new characters to become The Crow avenger. None of the movies seemed to reach the quality of the original. Personally, I felt that Brandon Lee’s portrayal should have been the only one since it was his final role and such an iconic one. To me it would be like someone doing sequels to Enter The Dragon without Bruce Lee. Not only is it not needed, it’s ultimately disrespectful to his legacy (in my opinion). There has also been rumors of a remake of the original film. If that actually happened I’d be really disgusted.
FURIOUS FILM TRIVIA
– During the first day of shooting in Wilmington, North Carolina, a carpenter suffered severe burns after his crane hit live power lines. On subsequent days, a grip truck caught fire, a disgruntled sculptor crashed his car through the studio’s plaster shop, and a crew member accidentally drove a screwdriver through his hand.
– One of the villains in this movie is named Skank. The Wraith, another movie about an avenger who’s back from the dead, also has a villain named Skank.
– Ernie Hudson’s character, Officer Albrecht, is named after Joy Division member Bernard Sumner. While writing the comic on which the movie is based, artist/writer James O’Barr drew inspiration from the band’s music as well as that of The Cure and Iggy Pop. In the early days of “Joy Division”, Sumner had taken the surname of Albrecht for no apparent reason.