This year’s Halloween marks the 20th anniversary of River Phoenix’s death at the age of 23. While the date reminds us of a tragic passing, a previously unfinished film starring the actor has resurfaced to remind us of his legacy.
At the time of his death, Phoenix had just finished location shoots in Utah on a movie called “Dark Blood,” co-starring Jonathan Pryce and Judy David, and returned to Los Angeles for three weeks of filming interior scenes. Since Phoenix couldn’t be present for the integral scenes, “Dark Blood” remained unfinished and unseen for 20 years.
But now, thanks to the efforts of the film’s director George Sluizer and Cinemavault, “Dark Blood” has a new life. The movie, which requires some narration from Sluizer to fill in the gaps, has screened at several film festivals in the last year and will screen at the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles on the October 29. It’s an opportunity to see a movie that otherwise would have been lost.
“Dark Blood” tells the story of Harry (Pryce), who decides to take a second honeymoon with his girlfriend Buffy (Davis). Things are going well until they learn that a nearby site was used for nuclear testing. Then their car breaks down in the desert. The couple seeks refuge with a widower named “Boy,” who quickly takes a liking Buffy, much to Harry’s chagrin.
In an exclusive clip from the film, Harry and Buffy meet Boy for the first time. He tells them a little about the nuclear testing that had been going on and mentions the death of his wife.
If you’re interested in checking out “Dark Blood” in the Los Angeles area, be sure to check it out at American Cinematheque on October 29.