Home Entertainment Check out the trailer for River Phoenix's final film DARK BLOOD

Check out the trailer for River Phoenix's final film DARK BLOOD

2 min read


Generally when we post trailers around here, it’s for new, upcoming movies. Well, this next movie only gets half of that right.

When rising young star River Phoenix tragically died of a drug overdose in 1993, he was in the process of filming Dutch director George Sluizer’s psychological thriller, Dark Blood. With only two-thirds of the film in the can, and Phoenix’s family engaging in a law-suit with the director about whether the film can be released or not, the film was officially shelved by producers.

When the lawsuit finally ended in 1999 in favour of the Phoenix family, who didn’t ever want see the film hit the light of day, the studio’s insurance company planned to destroy all the film reels. Luckily, Sluzier was tipped off about the impending destruction, and managed to rescue some reels of negatives in the middle of the night from the London warehouse where they had been gathering dust for years, before sending them onto a Dutch cinema museum to safeguard.

10 Years later, Sluzier was still trying to piece together what he could to finish it. He rewrote the film, so as to work around Phoenix’s unfinished scenes, but the problem was that while the picture quality of the negatives were fine, the sound was severely broken, requiring some new recording. Reportedly, Sluzier tried to employ River’s Oscar nominated brother Jaoquin Phoenix to dub some of the dialogue, but the Phoenix family was still not in favour of the movie being released, and wanted nothing to do with it.

Somehow though, Sluzier managed to find a way to not only get over this hurdle, but also patch together the footage he had into a coherent whole, and in 2011 he had a completed film which was shown in private screenings and a few select film festivals.

But THR reports that this weekend past at Cannes, 20 years after he began production on it, Sluzier finally landed a distribution deal with Lionsgate Films, meaning that the rest of the world will finally get to see River Phoenix’s final work.

Dark Blood follows Boy (River Phoenix), a young widower, who retreats to the desert after his wife dies of radiation following nuclear tests near their home. Boy is waiting for the end of the world and carves Kachina dolls, believing they contain magical powers. A couple, Harry (Jonathan Pryce) and Buffy (Judy Davis) travel to the desert on a second honeymoon in an attempt to save their marriage. Their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and the couple is rescued by Boy. Boy holds them prisoner because of his desire for Buffy and his ambition to create a better world with her

Dark Blood also stars Jonathan Pryce, Judy Davis and Karen Black. With the distribution deal just signed, its not 100% certain when the film will get its release, though somewhere around September seems likely. I highly doubt that we would get it locally then, but I will definitely try to seek it out, even if it is just for curiosity’s sake.

Last Updated: May 28, 2014


  1. James Francis

    May 30, 2014 at 16:34

    So how did he get past the court verdict?


    • Kervyn Cloete

      May 30, 2014 at 18:12

      Strangely, none of the articles I read about state that. It almost seems like he’s releasing this guerrilla style


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