Released in theaters by Miramax Films on May 13, 1994, today marks the 25th anniversary of The Crow, the film based on James O’Barr‘s 1989 comic book, directed by Alex Proyas, and starring Brandon Lee in the lead role.
Lee, the son of martial arts legend and actor Bruce Lee, played Eric Draven, a Detroit rock musician who is murdered along with this fiancee Shelly the night before their planned Halloween wedding. Draven eventually returns from the dead, and with the guidance of a crow, seeks revenge on the killers.
The film marked the 28-year-old Lee’s final performance, as the actor was accidentally shot on set during filming when there was a mechanical issue with a prop gun that was fired. The actor died soon after at the hospital during surgery, leaving behind fiancee Eliza Hutton. The accident occurred just days before The Crow was scheduled to wrap principal photography, so some scenes were rewritten and had to be completed with stunt doubles and CGI.
Matching its dark tone and gothic aesthetic was the film’s soundtrack, which went on to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The soundtrack included songs from Stone Temple Pilots, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, Rage Against the Machine, and The Jesus and Mary Chain, with STP’s haunted track “The Big Easy” charting.
The movie went on to spawn several sequels, a television series, and a video game, while the franchise has seen more novels and comic books. A reboot of the original 1994 film has been, to put it mildly, in development hell for many years, with directors F. Javier Gutiérrez and Corin Hardy and stars Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans, Jack Huston, and most recently Jason Momoa all signed on for the project only to later drop out.
A box office success upon its release, earning over $50 million in the United States, The Crow went on to become a cult classic, undoubtedly in part because of Lee’s tragic end. But also because of the strength of its compelling source material, along with the film’s gothic look and sound, which was perfect for mid-1990’s film-goers and still holds sway with audiences today.