The Crow (1994)
WRITERS: Screenplay by David J. Schow and John Shirley
DIRECTOR: Alex Proyas
STARRING: Brandon Lee as Eric
Ernie Hudson as Albrecht
Michael Wincott as Top Dollar
David Patrick Kelly as T-Bird
Angel David as Skank
Rochelle Davis as Sarah
Bai Ling as Myca
Lawrence Mason as Tin Tin
Michael Massee as Funboy
Marco Rodriguez as Torres
Sofia Shinas as Shelly
Tony Todd as Grange
Jon Polito as Gideon
QUICK CUT: A year after they witness a horrible murder on their turf, a group of gangbangers are hunted down when the dead man returns from the dead to seek his revenge.
T-Bird - The leader of a small gang of guys. He likes fast cars and fire, so he's a guy right after my own heart. He and his gang aren't the best of people, but they're just trying to get by in a broken system in a broken city.
Skank - The misfit of the group, the joke, the one who is probably there because someone felt sorry for him, or he's someone's relative. He may not be the brightest of the group, but he's probably the most loyal
Tin Tin - A bit violent, probably the worst of the bunch, and he has a thing for knives.
Funboy - An addict, with an addictive personality. It's all in his name; he's there for the lulz.
Top Dollar - The big guy behind all the big motions in the city. He's an entrepreneur and capitalist, but he's bored with his life.
Officer Albrecht - A good cop, maybe the only good cop left in the entire city, and the one who was assigned the case this whole movie revolves around, from a year ago.
The Crow - A hate-filled creature from beyond the grave, an unstoppable killing machine bent on vengeance for perceived wrongs.
THE GUTS: ...Well.
Before I get into this Trisk, I need to address something. Michael Massee, one of the stars of this movie, just recently passed away. As in, two days ago the news broke. If I have enough time, I like to avoid those kinds of situations out of respect, due to my jokey nature and tearing things apart, but this one was so soon, and so sudden, I decided to stick with this look at The Crow. This being one of my favourite movies, I naturally don't go too hard on it, and certainly don't crap on anyone's memory. I rarely do that ANYways, but with Massee's death being THAT recent, I wanted to address his passing before I got into the jokes. He was a true talent, and it is a shame that something from this movie dogged his career until his dying day. He will be missed, along with Jon Polito and naturally, Brandon Lee. Now, back to the funny. It's what Funboy would've wanted.
Welcome back, Triskelions! This review is doubly late. This was originally intended to be the seventh anniversary review on the 13th, but then I realised wait! If I wait to review this later, it'll be even better! I don't really have much to set up this slasher classic, so let's dive right into 1994's The Crow. Fire it up! Fire it up!!
The movie opens up on October 30th, Devil's Night, and...hey! That's today! Oh right, I just said I planned that. Anyways, we open up with some mythological crap about crows carrying souls of the dead to the afterlife, and how sometimes, they can come back for great vengeance.
We zoom in on the apartment of Eric Draven and Shelly Webster, who have been unceremoniously murdered, and the cops are kinda indifferent to the whole thing. Just another day in Detr...unspecified American midwest decaying city. The only cop who does give a damn is Officer Zedmore.
A year passes, and we meet the only people who witnessed the deaths of Eric and Shelly, a gang of local guys just out on the town having a good time, and celebrating their favourite holiday. The crow, lowercase, senses their mischief making, and summons back from the dead, Eric Draven, so he can seek out these poor people, and kill them for staying silent about his death for the past year.
The crow, lowercase, leads Eric, The Crow, uppercase, towards what he needs, so he can be ready to take on T-Bird and his gang. This eventually leads him back to the scene of the crime, where he discovers he has come back with a gift of psychometry, and picks up impressions and memories left behind. This will further lead him on his quest, as he sees the gang at the scene of his death.
Eric is flooded with memories of what happened to him and Shelly, and he begins to go after the men who did nothing to stop their death. Hey! It's "I Know What You Did Last Halloween"!
We follow one of the guys, Tin Tin, as he tries to make a few extra bucks to help pay the rent, by selling some junk he's collected to Gideon the pawn broker.
Unbeknownst to the Tin Man, the Crow is coming for him, running along the rooftops, and he is unable to escape Eric's vengeance.
Tintagel fortunately has some knife skills, but they can't stop the monster coming for him, and eventually the Crow takes out his first victim.
While the Crow is making stabby with Tin Tin, T-Bird pays a visit to his boss, Top Dollar, a local entrepreneur. He's there to see how business is going, unawares that a killer is after him and his crew.
Gideon is busy closing up shop after a good day of making an honest living, when the Crow crashes in through his front door, to terrorise the shopowner on his way to find and murder more people.
But Gideon isn't some helpless victim, and like any good store owner, he has a gun nearby, and tries shooting the monster coming after him. Unfortunately, we discover that Eric has come back with the ability to heal all wounds, and the angry spirit tosses Gideon around his own shop, causing much loss of property and damages. Eventually he outright blows the place up, but leaves Gideon alive to deliver his message of death to the rest of the street crew.
Officer Zedmore checks out the latest murder, and starts looking for this killer taking out these honest kids just having fun playing pranks around town and do their best to make a living on the mean streets of Detr...unspecified city.
He rushes to the scene of Gideon's fire sale, and runs right into the guy he's looking for! But the Crow pulls a Batman, leaving the cop standing there empty handed as the killer gets away.
Eric tracks down his next victim, Funboy, as he's trying to make love to his girlfriend, who coincidentally is also the mother of Eric and Shelly's friend, Sarah.
Her presence gives Eric the briefest of pauses in his bloody slaughterfest through the city, but only briefly. Poor Funboy is not long for this world, and his fun is rapidly coming to an end.
We get more gunplay and the Crow showing off his unstoppableness, and the typical schtick of the killer telling bad jokes and puns.
After shooting Funboy in the leg, Eric gives the guy a fatal overdose of drugs, so at least he died happy. He also pauses long enough to threaten Sarah's mom to get her clean and be a good mother, so he's not a total monster.
In fairness, the movie does go a long way to make the Crow a sympathetic killer, by delving into his backstory in bits and pieces, and making you feel for his situation. But that doesn't change the fact he's running through the city as his own judge, jury, and literal executioner on these people.
Tony Todd wanders in as the Crow is finishing up his executional of Funboy, and if anyone can stop the Crow, the Candyman can! But the Birdman escapes before any real confrontation can occur.
Candyman takes a slightly crispy Gideon to Top Dollar to tell him about this killer running around his town. See, Top Dollar runs the show, as should be obvious by his name. He's a bit of a restless king though, ennui having set in, and is actually looking forward to something entertaining.
T-Bird and Skank are out grabbing beers and candy for Halloween tomorrow, when the Crow appears behind T-Bird in his car, and makes him drive off, leaving the other guy behind to play catchup.
Skank finds them just in time to watch as the Crow duct tapes T-Bird into his car, and send it off a pier with a trunk full of explosives, murdering yet another soul.
Top Dollar and friends grab Skank, who is barely coherent, and are putting things together that SOMEhow, Eric Draven has come back from the dead as an angry ghost zombie to kill all these people.
He holds a meeting with all his top people on what their plans are for the holiday, and the Crow shows up for his final victim. But Top Hat planned ahead, and has a heavily armed guard force set to try and take him down.
Even this isn't enough to stop this force of nature, this oncoming killer that absolutely will not stop until his job is done.
The Crow absolutely tears through these guys like a hot katana through butter. He goes through no less than a baker's dozen worth of people. If you check out the body count later, I did my best to follow this butcher's rampage, but so much happens, so fast, in flashing lights. If a death wasn't clear, I didn't count it, as a lot of people just get thrown across a table. They probably die later.
He finally gets his hands on Skank, and credit to the whirling dervish of a twitchy freak; he tries to point at one of the other bodies on the ground and say THAT's Skank, Skank's dead, I'm not Skank, totally not, nope! That's pretty damned clever.
But this monster is not so easily fooled, and tosses Skank out the window to his death. You would think that would be the end of the movie, but Top Dollar wants to stop this man killing off all his friends! He's the final girl!
Fortunately, his sister is totally into mysticism, and has realised the source of his power is the crow, lowercase. So you kill that, and you can take care of the Crow, uppercase.
Eric's ready to call it a day, but suddenly senses his work is not done, he still has people to kill, and goes on to topple Top Cat's regime. The big boss is holed up in a church, seeking guidance and help from God before the monster comes for him.
Sister Dollar grabs the bird, and when Topsy Turvy shoots the killer, he finally goes down. Yeah! There's some hope yet! They found his weakness!
Officer Zedmore shows up to the shoot out at the OK Church, completely unawares of the situation. He sees a drawn gun, and takes out Candyman before he can end the Crow's reign of terror.
The Crow chases after the Dollar siblings, and finds the sister first. Before she can take her turn at stopping the Crow uppercase, the crow lowercase eats her eyes and she falls to her death. Dirty bird.
He continues up and finds Top Dollar on the roof of the church in the middle of a downpour, which seems like a terrible place to have a final confrontation. Someone's gonna just slip and fall.
The pair of them fight, with the Crow having the upper hand once he grabs a spire from off the church and uses it to block Dolly's sword. But finally our hero strikes a fatal blow when he runs Eric through from behind.
So, bad guy's almost dead, there must not be much more movie left! But Dollar Video admits to Eric that it was his fault they were killed, and he's very sorry about the whole affair. But this gives the Crow a final bit of strength to seek out one last bit of vengeance on our hero.
Top Dollar may have dealt a fatal blow to the Crow, but the villain snatches his victory away for something a bit more pyrrhic, when he uses his psychometric powers to shove 30 hours of pain into Toptimus Prime's mind. This makes him stumble back off the roof to a death via an actual proper gargoyle waterspout.
With his work done, the Crow crawls off to his grave to return to the earth he crawled out of. Top Dollar may not have survived the fight, but the Crow will never darken his town again. I guess that's a victory?
Video: For a movie that lives within the shadows, that is gloriously black and dark, there is nothing that's hard to see what's going on. They knew how to use contrast, making an almost black and white film, but never burying things in so much murk. This would have been an easy look to screw up, and thankfully no one did.
Audio: This is so atmospheric. You feel surrounded by the world of the Crow, whether that be the unending rain, the sounds of the city, the score or the music. This audio just envelopes you.
Sound Bite: "Quick impression for ya, Caw caw! BANG! FUCK I'M DEAD!" Top Dollar, letting Eric know is birdy buddy is dead.
Body Count: This is easily one of the highest body counts I've done this year. Eric tears through Top Dollar's friends and family.
1 - Shelley Webster dies between a timecut.
2 - We see Eric die in flashback.
3 - Tin Tin gives us our first actual on screen death around 22 minutes.
4 - Funboy has a few too many drugs.
5 - Gideon is killed by Top Dollar.
6 - The Crow makes T-Bird live up to his name.
7 - One of Top Dollar's goons gets shot in the head.
8 - Another dies.
9 - And a third.
10 - And another
11 - And another
12 - And one with defenestration, because you gotta.
13 - And another gets slashed in the neck.
14 - And yet another
15 - Number nine
16 - Another death by sword
17 - Two deaths by sword
18 - A third death by sword
19 - Another death
20 - A second defenestrated man
21 - We even get a gunshot induced railing kill!
22 - One more goes down with guns
23 - And his friend at the same time.
24 - Finally, Skank is thrown to his won death.
25 - Albrecht takes out Tony Todd
26 - Bai Ling loses her eyes and footing.
27 - Top Dollar dies atop Goliath.
Best Corpse: Some might think I'd go with T-Bird's death, because there's a giant firebird involved, but actually, I am partial to Tin Tin's. It's one of the few real face to face confrontations between Eric and one of the killers, until the end, where the victim actually fights back with any level of resistance. And stabby with knives is cool.
Blood Type - C+: The most gruesome thing this movie gives you is a closeup of a severed eyeball. There's some good blood hits here and there.
Sex Appeal: Implied nudity of Bai Ling in a shower.
Drink Up! Every time you see one of Eric's Crow doodles.
Video Nasties: Whenever I tried to think of a clip to share, I just couldn't pick, or it didn't feel right, but I did keep coming back to something...this is NOT an upload by me, but is one of the most hilarious moments. It's a deleted alternate take of Eric LITERALLY rapping at Gideon's chamber door. It kills me every time.
Movie Review: Look, I can't properly judge this movie. This is my favourite movie of all time. The story is emotional, and deeper than anything of a revenge flick should be. It's colourful, and fun, and funny. It's one of the most quotable movies I know of. I will admit that the acting is campy almost to every last actor, but it's *supposed* to be. This is comic book heightened reality. This is Detroit turned up to 11. But even though every single person is chewing scenery, you believe it, they feel real, if you're on board with this story. And as anyone has figured out by now, my take in this review is NOT the full story of the plot. And yet, it really does highlight how close this movie *IS* to a slasher movie, with a killer coming back to seek revenge. But because we are following Eric, he's the hero, not the villain. It is a VERY fine line, isn't it? I love this movie, unashamedly so, and if you haven't seen it, you must. I watch it every year on October 30th, and if you're reading this on the 30th, I can almost guarantee I am watching it while you're reading. In fact, I watched it twice this year, because I needed to do this review. Five out of five hot dogs. But no onions though, they make you fart, big time.
Entertainment Value: I really have nothing to add. This is a thrilling story, it turns horror tropes into an amazing action movie, while still being recognisable as something almost horror movie like. It was a blast to twist the plot around to be more horror, and place Eric as the villain. Five out of five crows.
But only the first one matters, the rest are unwatchable!