11 July 2015

The Shadows Smile

Visit and join our new Facebook page!
If I've learnt one thing in my life it's that if you use the word 'sausage' with anger then nobody will ever take you seriously. I saved myself a sausage for lunch once but by the time I got to it somebody had already cooked and eaten it. I don't know about you but when I'm pissed off, I need people to be apologetic and sorrowful or there's a good chance that I'll begin to over-react. In this instant, I didn't get the response I was hoping for and so what started off as a mild irritation quickly escalated into a full blown shit-fit. The angrier I got, the funnier people seemed to find the phrase “Where's my fucking sausage gone”. I don't think I'll ever fully get over this situation and even now I have abandonment issues where my pork-based snacks are concerned. It was a horrible circle of innuendo, hunger, a lack of perspective, a lack of empathy, and an annoying lack of sausage. I don't remember how the situation ended but based on how angry I was, I probably blacked out.

The Crow is a property that has frustration, anger, and grief running straight through its soul and all the way through to its entire conception. The film was released in 1994 and tells the story of the rocker Eric Draven as he and his fiancée are brutally murdered by a random, drugged up gang of coke-snorting, cock-heads. They kill and rape her before throwing him out of his upper floor apartment window like one of Michael Jackson's badly judged attempts to flaunt his babies. However, due to our preconception that a feature film should have a duration of over five minutes, Draven's corpse is then brought back to life by a crow, enabling him to act out his bloody revenge. Essentially what you have here is a Gothic cross between Death Wish and Kes as the resurrected rocker goes after his attackers, whilst his hope of a better life is tied to the bond he shares with his grotty flying rat.   

In many ways this film reminded me of the Keanu Reeves action film John Wick. Both are violent tales of bloody revenge and both spend more time on the killing than the back story. Also, neither films throw in any tension to suggest that the lead might not complete his mission and instead revel in his revenge by presenting him as an immortal bogeyman. I suppose one of the few obvious differences beyond the supernatural element though is that whilst Reeves kills his foes with style and grace, Eric Draven feels the need to do it whilst looking like a human version of Gene Simmons. In fact he also kind of looks a bit like Alice Cooper, but only if the real Alice Cooper was actually his own picture of Dorian Gray. I suppose the other difference between this and John Wick is that this property seems so cursed that you'd assume it's creator had been given a sinister looking button by an evil, old, gypsy whose Mum he'd just fucked.

The film is based on a comic book series by a chap called James O'Barr who wrote the thing in response to the death of his own fiancée. I don't really drink, personally, and I'm not the most confident of drivers, however I must have a Mr Glass of my own, as O'Barr's partner was run over and killed by a selfish, over-the-limit cock-womble. In an attempt to deal with the pain of losing her, O'Barr decided to join the army and head to Germany. Rather than attempting to retake Berlin for the allied forces in some sort of mad Rambo-esque act of grief however, he was instead simply tasked with illustrating combat manuals. Bizarrely, his shattered heart wasn't comforted by doing doodles for the gun-boys of Team America and so he instead threw his emotions into writing his comic, The Crow. The story was also partly inspired by an incident that had been reported in the newspapers in which a young couple were murdered over a twenty dollar engagement ring. For some reason the papers didn't go with the headline of “Fuck this fucking miserable fucking piece of fuck world” that I probably would have... but then I've always been a sensationalist! Sadly for O'Barr, he was unable to find solace in the creation of his comic with every page being filled with his increased sense of anger and self-destruction... Talk about shitting all over the trauma of my opening sausage story. 

With his supernatural, Gothic tale of revenge now committed to paper, it was time for Hollywood to come knocking and make a wonderful film adaptation that would add some positivity to all of this. Starring Brandon Lee, this would not only be a marvellous film but it would also be the vehicle in which its lead actor would finally step out from the shadow of Bruce Lee, his father. After all, this tragedy was about time things started to look up. I mean what could go wrong now that the The Crow had made it to the glittering lights of Tinseltown? On March 31st 1993, Brandon Lee was shot and killed on set whilst filming his own character's death scene. Fuck. I mean, what could you even do in that situation? Give him a painkiller? Considering that's what caused his legend of a father's brain to fucking implode and kill him, it doesn't seem like it'd have been too helpful, does it! With all of this loss and misery, I think we have to assume that the sheer idea of The Crow must have been released into the ether as some radio-active spores from an old Indian burial site. I guess to some degree the death of Brandon Lee is common knowledge but I'd always wondered how it happened. I mean, surely this kind of thing must be nigh on impossible because Danny Dyer's been acting in movies for a while now and nobody else seems to have taken advantage of any similar opportunities.

Essentially, the incident occurred because the film didn't have a fraction of the budget that it needed to efficiently realise the ambition that it deserved and that director Alex Proyas had envisioned. Despite being considered as a potential franchise, the film was given less money for its entire production than director Michael Bay spends on hiring writers to take a shit and then hand it in as a completed script. As a result, the film attempted to save pennies by hiring cheaper, inexperienced crew members, promoting them to positions that they weren't qualified for, and then significantly over-working them. Whereas I'd just do the traditional British thing of walking around with tea hooked to my veins through a drip, a lot of people on this crew decided that they'd work a little more efficiently if they were off their tits on coke. It'd be nice to say that these conditions were bound to lead to an accident of some kind, but the reality is that things were being fucked up all the time. Vans had spontaneously combusted, people had shoved screwdrivers through their hands, and at least one on-set carpenter had found himself in a crane as it hit some live cables causing him to go up on fire. Although he survived with forty percent of his body now burnt, I think few people can claim that their Hollywood careers have gone up in flames quite as literally as that chap can.

As for Brandon Lee, his death scene was obviously meant to be filmed with the guns being filled with blanks. A few days earlier, the crew had bought some shit as set-dressing for one of their scenes and found that they'd also accidentally bought a box of live bullets. Because apparently America is the kind of country were you can 'accidentally' buy live bullets... Due to common sense, these are prohibited from being left lying around on a movie and so they were confiscated and locked away in the boot of a crew members car. Cut to the death scene- due to a lack of blanks and the ever present threat of the film having no money, it was decided that those live bullets would be deactivated and used instead. 'I can't imagine anything could possibly go wrong with that idea' thought everybody involved as they snorted their coke under the light of a burning carpenter. Sadly, something did go wrong, and one of the bullets wasn't completely disarmed leading to a fully loaded and very lethal weapon being pointed at Brandon Lee and fired. Of course, his character was meant to die at this point and so it wasn't apparent right away as to what had happened. Either Lee had just given one of the most convincing performances of all time or he was actually dying of internal bleeding as a bullet lodged itself in his spine. Regardless, there are few actors who can say that they've gone quite as far as him to experience the reality of their character, but I do have my fingers crossed for my own upcoming film called, Adam Sandler Gets Kicked In The Bollocks.

It's been over twenty years since its release and in the subsequent decades The Crow has lived on as a cult favourite. Fuelled by the legend of its tragic history and inspired by its grim tone and gothic sensibilities, the movie will forever be a part of a culture that involves miserable teenagers that look like they probably self-harm. I saw the movie for the first time the other day and, despite not being a nineteen year old boy who dresses like a dominatrix whilst cry-wanking to Marilyn Manson, I have to say that I loved it. When Lee was killed, the majority of his scenes that were left to film involved his character pre-death. As a result, the movie really just throws you into the meaty-revenge of the story and combines what little had been filmed along with a few special effects to occasionally flash-back to Draven's life. Personally I loved this faff-free way of cracking on with the story, with necessity and tragic deaths truly being the mothers of invention. The main criticism that people generally hurl at this film is that it favours style over substance, however it's a hell of a style to rely on. There's no naturalistic dialogue from our avenging angel as he flits about town delivering a combination of pulpy one liners and a few comic book monologues, before killing those crusty gutter-fucks that originally threw him out the window. I agree that there's not too much going on below the surface, but there's no denying the power of the films baggage. If you want to tell a believable story about a person wanting revenge for all the misery that life can offer, then it helps to have a film that's own history is about as upsetting as Piers Morgan's punchable, bean-bag of a face.  

Whether or not the film would have endured with the fan-base that it has, had it not been riddled with horror, is something that I guess we'll never know. What matters is that I was truly hooked by the brilliance of the film and even though it's now several days later, I can still feel it buzzing about my brain like a wasp with a dildo. Ghostbusters 2 begins with the gang having been disbanded and doing normal jobs due to the public assumption that they're fraudsters. This film begins with Ernie Hudson as a policeman that gets wrapped up in a quest involving a member of the undead. Sure he's got a different name, but presuming the public had turned on them again, is it unlikely that Winston might have changed his name to avoid attention before finding another profession in which he could be paid to protect? Some people see The Crow as a tale of revenge, others love it for its hard-rock soundtrack, its creator used it as a way of trying to cope with his loss. Is it just me though, or could The Crow also be the closest we'll ever get to an actual Ghostbusters 3? Thanks for reading motherfuckers, and I'll see you next time!  


You can visit the blog picture artist at _Moriendus_

No comments :

Post a Comment