"The Crow" Movie Review

Starring Brandon Lee, Michael Wincott, Rochelle Davis, and Ernie Hudson

Okay, I think everyone's probably seen this movie by now. Eric D'Raven (point of order -- although crows and ravens belong to the same family, they're entirely different species. Eric's last name probably should've been Corvid) and Shelly Webster are brutally (is there any other way?) murdered on the night before their wedding. (In what turns out to be an unusually vicious landlord-tenant dispute.) They are survived by Gabriel the white persian cat, and Sarah the skateboarding mascot. Eric returns a year later to avenge their deaths.

Now first of all, the only thing that separates this movie from any other supernatural revenge thriller (like Rambo) is the costume and set design. Goth has never really gone over very well as a movie subgenre, which is probably why "Crow: City of Angels" didn't do as well as its older brother. This is Goth Lite; picture "Road Warrior" set in a dark, rainy city. I know this is tantamount to heresy, but it's true -- compared to something like "Dark City," the first Crow movie is strictly kid's stuff.

The bad guys are about 3/4ths of the fun here, with zany names like Fun Boy, Tin Tin, and Top Dollar, and wacky personal quirks to match. Some of these quirks -- like doing a silly little dance while chanting "Fire it up! Fire it up!" are seriously just Tooooo Much. Others -- like Top Dollar's habit of snuggling up with his fey half-sister while inhaling the smoke from their homemade incense (ingredient #1: the eyes of their most recent girlfriend) -- are pretty damned entertaining.

For some reason this is one of those "Hey, I know that guy!" movies, so I'll just list a couple out below:

Michael Wincott as Top Dollar (the head baddie) really makes this movie. I keep thinking I see Michael in other movies, but it always turns out to be this OTHER gravel-voiced actor (whose name I can never remember). Which is really too bad, because he's an awful lot of fun. Michael played Sal in "Romeo is Bleeding," Philo Grant in "Strange Days," as well as starring in two episodes of "The Littlest Hobo."

Tony Todd plays Grange, Top Dollar's bespectacled, turtleneck-wearing, thoughtful personal guard. You may know Tony better from his roles as Candyman, the insomniac Augustus Cole from the X-Files episode "Sleepless," or as the inimitable Detective Huey on "Due South."

David Patrick Kelley is T-Bird (the one with the car). You may remember David as wacky younger brother Jerry "I brought you a sandwich!" Horne from "Twin Peaks."

Ernie Hudson plays Albrecht, the cop with a heart of gold who adopts Sarah in Eric and Shelly's absence. Ernie's other notable roles include "The Black Guy Who Dies At The End For Absolutely No Reason" from "Leviathan."

Darla, Sarah's junkie whore mother, is played by Anna Levine, who also did a turn as the pastor's pregnant wife in "Warlock."

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult (one of my favorite bands) also puts in an appearance of their own, which brings me to the all-star soundtrack. Remember how much hype surrounded the release of the soundtrack? Seems like I couldn't go an hour watching television without seeing at least ten Sam Goody ads for The Crow Soundtrack, including such artists as the Cure and Nine Inch Nails.

The script itself was written by David Schow and John Shirley, two noted names in the field of hard-core eighties splatterpunk horror fiction, although I'm not sure what they've been up to lately.

So anyway... where were we? Oh yes. Using his amazing (if somewhat ill-defined) super powers of addiction recovery and family reconciliation, Eric tracks down the bad guys one by one. Is it just me, or is there something kind of stupid and futile about coming back from the dead just to avenge your fiancee's death? It's not like it's going to bring her back. (It's probably just me.)

In the end, everyone's dead but Sarah and the cat.

Notably goth dialogue:

"They're all dead. They just don't know it yet." -- Eric

"Goddamned creatures of the night. They never learn." -- Gideon, the pawn shop owner

What can I say? It's light, it's fun, it's just in time for Halloween!

Final score: 74 points

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