Eighteen years after the sudden death of actor River Phoenix, Dutch director George Sluizer says he will finish Dark Blood, the 1993 drama that Phoenix was shooting when he died of a heart attack on Halloween night outside the Viper Room in Los Angeles.
After Phoenix’s death, apparently of a drug overdose, Sluizer took the original Dark Blood footage and kept it hidden fearing, he says, it would be destroyed. The director has now re-edited the material and believes with a few adjustments – using voice over for instance – he can now deliver a final cut of the film for release next year.
Sluizer, mainly known for his acclaimed film Spoorloos, remade as The Vanishing starring Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland, said he plans to ask Phoenix’s brother Joaquin Phoenix to do the film’s voiceover as River’s character Boy.
“The voices of both brothers are very much alike,” the director, who has stayed in touch with the Phoenix-family, told THR.
In Dark Blood, Phoenix plays a hermit living in the desert on a nuclear testing site as he waits for the end of the world. When a Hollywood jet-set couple (played by Judy Davis and Jonathan Pryce) arrives to find shelter, he begins a troubled relationship with the wife.
Dutch-based production house Eyeworks has come on board to help Sluizer finish the film and deal with the legal issues surrounding a release. The company told THR copyright claims might result in changing the film’s title.
Before his sudden death aged 23, River Phoenix was one of Hollywood’s most in-demand young actors, with starring or supporting roles in acclaimed films such as Stand By Me, The Mosquito Coast, My Own Private Idaho and Sneakers. His role in Sidney Lumet’s Running on Empty garnered him an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination.