The Crow (1994) Poster



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Brandon Lee died during a mishap on the set. A scene required a gun to be loaded, cocked, and then pointed at the camera. Because of the close-range of the shot, the dummy cartridges loaded had real brass caps, bullet, but no powder. After the cut, the props master (not the arms master - he had left the set for the day) dry-fired the gun to get the cock off, knocking the projectile/bullet into the barrel of the gun. The next scene to be filmed involving that gun was the rape of Shelly. The gun was loaded with blanks (which usually contain double or triple the powder of a normal cartridge to make a loud noise). Lee entered the set carrying a bag of groceries containing an explosive blood pack. The script called for Funboy (Michael Massee) to shoot Eric Draven (Lee) as he entered the room, triggering the blood pack. The bullet that was stuck in the barrel was blasted at Lee through the bag he was carrying, killing him. The footage of his death was subsequently developed and used as evidence in the investigation into his death. As part of the lawsuit settlement, the footage was later destroyed. Lee is the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, who died in mysterious circumstances before completing Game of Death (1978). See also Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993).
The following scenes were completed after Brandon Lee's death:
  • Draven first enters the apartment after digging himself out of his grave: footage of Lee walking through an alley in the rain was digitally composited into the scene where he walks through the doorway. Computer technology added drops of water to the door frame to make the water on his back not seem out of place.

  • The shot of Draven falling from the window was made by digitally compositing Lee's face (complete with simulated blood) onto a body double.

  • The scene where Draven puts on his make-up was filmed using a double. The face in the smashed mirror was Lee's, computer-altered to fit the shards. The image of Draven walking towards the window with the crow on his shoulder was a double with Lee's face added during lightning flashes.

  • When Sarah visits the apartment, we never see Draven's face as it is a double.

Although he was not at fault for the death of Brandon Lee Michael Massee stopped acting for a year because he was so traumatized by the incident. He has never seen the film.
According to Jon Polito, Lee cut himself when he broke the glass in Gideon's shop. The glass was breakaway glass and it is very rare for anyone to get cut by it. Polito says that he told Lee that he feared Lee would die in an on-set accident like Vic Morrow did during filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983).
James O'Barr stated on the Crow DVD that when he met the movie's executives, they originally wanted to make this a musical staring Michael Jackson. He immediately laughed uncontrollably thinking it was a joke, only to find that they were quite serious. It was only until Brandon Lee and Alex Proyas came on board that the movie took a more serious role.
James O'Barr wanted Johnny Depp to star as Eric Draven.
Although the tone of the film is very similar to the comic, there were many changes. In the comics, Top Dollar is a member of T-Bird's gang as opposed to heading up crime in the city. Myca and Grange were also not present in the comic and there was never any mention about the crow being a power source. Also in the comic, Skank was not involved in the murders of Eric and Shelly, instead a character named Tom-Tom was. Sarah also served a minor role, first meeting Eric after his death and Albrecht as he appears in the movie is a combination of a street officer named Albrecht in the comics and Police Captain Hook. Another major change is Eric is a mechanic in the comic and his last name was never mentioned. He was changed to a musician as an homage to all the music references James O'Barr had in the comic. In the comic, the murders are actually a twist of bad luck with T-Bird's gang while high on drugs ambushing Eric and Shelly when their car breaks down. And in the comic, Eric is actually the one who lasts for thirty hours of intensive care with most of the events implied as possibly being a revenge fantasy as he lies in a coma.
According to the biography of Bruce Lee, Brandon Lee's death was predicted by his father Bruce Lee after awaking from his coma. His death was foreseen before Brandon even considered taking up acting as a career.
James O'Barr constantly listened to the songs of Joy Division and The Cure while shaping and creating the graphic novel this film is based on. He was delighted when Robert Smith of "The Cure" agreed to write an original song for the movie. Although a hugely popular song, introducing legions of new fans to "The Cure", they've only performed "Burn" live once, nineteen years after the film's release (even though it was often requested). When a fan asked if they'd play the song at a concert, bassist Simon Gallup replied, "Did we do that one for a soundtrack? I don't remember it."
During the first day of shooting in Wilmington, North Carolina, a carpenter suffered severe burns after his crane hit live power lines. On subsequent days, a grip truck caught fire, a disgruntled sculptor crashed his car through the studio's plaster shop, and a crew member accidentally drove a screwdriver through his hand.
Director Alex Proyas originally wanted to shoot the entire movie in "black and white" closer to the comics and only using color in Draven's flash backs scenes with high contrast theme, but the studio executives didn't allow him to experiment with approach. This made Proyas shoot much of the movie in a monochromatic color theme mixed with red and dark gray.
In his bluray commentary, Alex Proyas said that Brandon Lee was unhappy with the way his face makeup looked when the make-up department applied it to him before shooting. Brandon Lee and Alex Proyas then agreed that it would look best if Lee applied his own makeup every night before going to bed so that when he woke up his face paint would naturally look more worn out.
In 2005, 12 years after the accidental shooting of Brandon Lee, Michael Massee (who fired the gun) claimed to still have nightmares of the incident.
According to James O'Barr, he didn't like casting Brandon Lee as the main lead for his comic-book adaptation. At that time he had only seen him in Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) and fearing that it would end up like a Kung Fu movie and go straight to video. But he was thrilled when he first met Brandon on the set with the makeups and Crow outfit. He was amazed by Brandon's take on the character when he spoke the exact lines from the comics.
The latter part of the scene in Albrecht's apartment was ad-libbed by Brandon Lee and Ernie Hudson. The line about Shelley ("Believe me, nothing is trivial") was not in the script.
Originally Funboy (Michael Massee) was not supposed to fire a gun at Brandon Lee's character (which ultimately led to Lee's death). It was changed at the last minute by director, Alex Proyas
Paramount Pictures initially developed and financed this film, but after 'Brandon Lee''s tragic death (which caused production to shut down with an incomplete film) they wrote the project off. Entertainment Media Investment Corporation was created for the purpose of buying the film and completing it using then ground-breaking CGI special effects and body doubles for Brandon Lee's scenes.
The line, "Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children," spoken by Eric as he drains the morphine from Darla's arm, is a quote from William Makepeace Thackeray.
Some believe that because of the tragic death of Brandon Lee, this movie is responsible for changing gun safety standards in film, ie. in action scenes, the gun is held off to the side and tricky camera angles are used when the weapon is aimed at a character to avoid misfiring or other horrific accidents.
Linda Lee Cadwell, the widow of Bruce Lee and mother of Brandon Lee, filed a negligence case against producer Edward R. Pressman, actor Michael Massee and 12 other defendants over the death of her son on-set. She settled out of court to the tune of $3 million.
T-Bird's final words are from Book IV of Milton's "Paradise Lost". When Lucifer is found in Paradise by two Cherubs, he rebukes them for not recognizing him. They rebuke right back saying that his appearance has changed from being in Hell. "So spake the Cherub, and his grave rebuke. Severe in youthful beauty, added grace. Invincible: abash the Devil stood, and felt how awful goodness is, and saw virtue in her shape, how lovely. Saw and pin'd his loss, but chiefly to find here observed his lustre visibly impaired, yet seemed"
James O'Barr modeled the comic book "Eric's Face" on an amalgam of Ian Curtis and Daniel Ash. Iggy Pop served as the model for comic Eric's torso and more importantly, the comic Funboy's overall look and attitude. Iggy was slated to star as Funboy in the film, however he was forced to decline the role due to touring/recording conflicts. To make up for his cancellation he agreed to be in the sequel.
The incendiary device which Eric drops in T-Bird's lap is a white phosphorous grenade. When it detonates it burns at 2500 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to Empire Magazine, cocaine abuse was rampant on set, with cameramen shooting whilst high, crew going into the toilets to snort between shots, and people cutting around. One crewmember recalls hearing the sound of a sneeze on the set one day, and an annoyed Brandon Lee quipping "someone just lost $50".
One of the crows used in this film, Magic, was used in all of the following movies.
The line "I see you've made your decision. Now let's see you enforce it," is taken from a statement made by President Andrew Jackson regarding the ruling of Supreme Court that the Indian Removal Act was illegal. The line was altered from "That's John Marshall's decision; now let's see him enforce it," to use it in the movie.
During the boardroom shootout, Draven rolls onto his back to kick a shooter through a window, then nips back up to his feet in one movement: a similar move to one performed in Enter the Dragon (1973) - which, coincidentally, was his father Bruce Lee's last film before an untimely death.
River Phoenix and Christian Slater turned down the role of Eric Draven.
Set in Detroit (evidenced by references to "Devil's Night" (the traditional arson and vandalism "holiday") and "motor city").
Besides his cameo in the boardroom shootout, screenwriter David J. Schow was frequently a double for several of the actors (T-Bird's feet in one scene, and so on).
The poem that Eric Draven misquotes when he breaks into Gideon's shop is "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe. Draven says "Suddenly I heard a tapping..." while Poe's poem actually reads "Suddenly there came a tapping."
The crow guides Eric Draven to the villains, starting with Tin Tin who struck first blood, the remaining villains were in the order they raped Shelley. Tin Tin starts in on Shelley first but Funboy pushes him out of the way saying "me first".
In the scene where T-Bird, Fun Boy, Tin-Tin and Skank destroy the arcade, T-Bird says, "You know, Lake Erie actually caught on fire once from all the crap floating around in it. I wish I could've seen that." Something like this did actually happen, but it wasn't Lake Erie, it was the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio (which feeds into Lake Erie).
Eric Mabius, who played in the lead for The Crow: Salvation (2000) auditioned for the role of Funboy.
Prior to filming, Brandon Lee had somewhat of a morbid fascination with death, he would often drive around in a hearse he owned, visit famous graves, and would listen to The Doors.
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Cameron Diaz was offered the role of Shelly, but turned it down because she didn't like the script.
Top Dollar, Myca, and Grange are never referred to by name in the movie.
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Ernie Hudson's character, Officer Albrecht, is named after Joy Division member Bernard Sumner. While writing the comic on which the movie is based, artist/writer James O'Barr drew inspiration from the band's music as well as that of The Cure and Iggy Pop. In the early days of "Joy Division", Sumner had taken the surname of Albrecht for no apparent reason.
Scenes featuring Michael Berryman as the Skull Cowboy were cut.
One of the villains in this movie is named Skank. The Wraith (1986), another movie about an avenger who's back from the dead, also has a villain named Skank.
Just before sending T-Bird off in his car, Eric roots through the trunk and picks up a bundle of TNT with a digital detonator. He apparently arms it, because when the car blows up the explosion starts in the trunk.
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When Gideon is sitting at the bar he is drinking Crown Royal.
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The set and outside building shots used during the apartment scenes, especially the iconic window, were reused for the kidnappers hideout in the 1994 movie "baby's day out". Also Ann Thomas who plays Darla has a small role as Mrs. Mcray in "baby's day out"
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David J. Schow:  the writer is one of the first men to get killed during the boardroom fight. You see him fall and then abruptly disappear under the table.
James O'Barr:  stealing a TV set after Gideon's shop was blown up.


The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Body count: 31

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