River Phoenix’s final movie ‘Dark Blood’ will finally be released on September 27, 2012, almost 20 years after the aspiring star died outside The Viper Room in Los Angeles. Phoenix –who had ingested a lethal combination of cocaine and heroin – stars in George Sluizer’s thriller about a young widow living in the desert on a nuclear testing site.
Phoenix – who was considered one of the finest young actors in Hollywood – died as he and Sluizer were putting the finishing touches to the movie. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the director, now 80, said of Phoenix’s death, “I was devastated…It was a terrible sadness.” The movie had roughly 11 days of production to complete when the actor died, with an insurance company making the call to abandon the project and pay out to the original investors. As the firm became owners of the movie, it sat in storage until 1999, at which point they decided to destroy it. “That’s when I said, ‘No, no, I’m going to save it from destruction”, said Sluizer, without going into detail as to how he took ownership of ‘Dark Blood’ once again. After suffering an acute aortic dissection while holidaying in France and spending months recovering, the director decided he had to finish the film, “I said, I want to finish the film before whatever happens,” adding, “At least I will finish my job as best as I could.” The movie will premiere at the Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht this week, and is competing for the festival’s Golden Calf award.
Meanwhile, River’s brother Joaquin Phoenix is tipped to receive an Oscar nomination for his turn in Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘The Master.
I often wonder what types of films he would have done had he lived.