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River Phoenix's Final Film 'Dark Blood,' Shelved for 19 Years, Finished for Dutch Festival Debut

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood August 1, 2012 at 1:57PM

When actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993, the film he was currently shooting, Dutch director George Sluizer's "Dark Blood," was seemingly put on permanent hold. Now, 19 years after he began the project, 80-year-old Sluizer has finished the film and it will premiere at the Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht on September 27.
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River Phoenix

When actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993, the Fine Line Features film he was currently shooting, Dutch director George Sluizer's "Dark Blood," was seemingly put on permanent hold. Now, 19 years after he began the project, 80-year-old Sluizer has finished the film and it will premiere at the Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht on September 27.

In "Dark Blood," Phoenix plays a widower named Boy, who waits for the apocalypse to come from the nuclear testing site not far from his desert backyard, and ultimately takes a Hollywood couple (played by Jonathan Pryce and Judy Davis) hostage when their car breaks down. The film also co-stars Karen Black in a small role.

After Phoenix's death, Sluizer returned to the Netherlands and brought the unfinished film with him, fearful that the footage would be destroyed if not kept hidden. THR first broke the news in 2011 that Sluizer would be revisiting and completing "Dark Blood," and that it would be financed by the Netherland Film Fund, as well as Cinecrowd (sort of a Dutch Kickstarter).

It remains to be seen if the film will be palatable for other festivals or North American distributors.

This article is related to: River Phoenix, Dark Blood, Festivals, News


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.