George Sluizer

River Phoenix Dark Blood

With only eleven days left of production, director George Sluizer‘s bizarre Dark Blood shut down because of River Phoenix‘s untimely death in 1993 at the age of 23. In the film, the rising star played a hermit living on a nuclear testing site, making dolls he felt had magical powers and waiting for the old world to end. Like you do. When two Hollywood types traveling through Arizona on a second honeymoon (Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis) break down, he helps them…but then keeps them against their will because he likes the cut of Judy Davis’s jib. And because he’s been alone in the desert for a long time. The long-abandoned project got a trailer recently, which you can see below, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, Sluizer plans on bringing a finished cut of the project to the Netherlands Film Festival in September. This announcement comes after the director first claimed last Fall that he wanted to complete the picture and needed Joaquin Phoenix‘s help with a new voice over track. It seems likely that some sort of US release will follow, but what’s most interesting about this story is that, in addition to money from the Netherlands Film Fund, Sluizer was able to finish this film with help from crowdfunding. It’s partially because of dedicated fans that we’ll be able to see River Phoenix, 19 years after his death, one last time on screen.

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On Halloween night, 1993 River Phoenix cut his own life and acting career short when he died of a drug overdose outside The Viper Room in West Hollywood. Before he died, he had made a strong mark on the movie world with performances in Stand By Me, My Own Private Idaho and an Oscar nomination for his role in Running On Empty. Phoenix appeared in three films that were released in 1993, but there was one left unfinished – a thriller called Dark Blood that dealt with the long-term effects of nuclear testing and saw Phoenix playing a hermit widower living out in the desert awaiting the end of the world. Eighteen years later, director George Sluizer (The Vanishing) is announcing that he plans on editing the film into a completed print and releasing it sometime in 2012. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sluizer plans on requesting that Joaquin Phoenix do some voice over work as a stand in for his late brother. It will be wonderful to see River Phoenix on screen again, but beyond the curiosity here, the film doesn’t sound particularly remarkable. Sluizer had an uneven career, and the script for Dark Blood was written by Jim Barton – who has 5 lesser works to his name. However, the film co-stars Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis, and there’s always the chance that Sluizer can create something as electric as The Vanishing once again.

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