Though actor River Phoenix passed away in 1993, he might return to theaters in a new film next year.
Nineteen years ago, Phoenix and director George Sluizer began working on “Dark Blood,” but filming was cancelled after Phoenix, then 23, collapsed and died of a drug overdose outside of Los Angeles’ Viper Room. While many assumed that they would never again see Phoenix on the big screen, they may turn out to be wrong.
According to Sluizer, “Dark Blood” was approximately 80 percent complete when Phoenix died. Though the director left the film unfinished for the better part of two decades, he has finally returned to work on the movie, fleshing out the remains of the movie by using voice-overs and clever editing techniques.
The film stars River Phoenix as Boy, a young widower who lives by himself on a nuclear testing site, believing that the world is about to end. Boy meets a couple traveling through the desert on a second honeymoon, and after initially helping repair their car, he kidnaps them after falling in love with the woman.
“It’s a complete film,” Sluizer says of the finished cut of “Dark Blood.” “It’s not pieces stuck together. It has a beginning, and it goes up to the end, like it should.”
Sluizer, now 80, has already premiered the completed cut of “Dark Blood” at the Netherlands Film festival to positive reviews.
"Phoenix exerts a suitably charismatic and commanding air in his final role, making Boy a complex, fully mature character," Variety said in its review of the film.
But while “Dark Blood” has been invited to play in dozens of other independent film festivals, according to Sluizer, the director hopes that River Phoenix’s final film will earn the wide theatrical release that he believes the beloved actor deserves.
Check out a trailer for “Dark Blood” below.