31 Nights, 31 Frights: The Crow

In observance of that autumn spell when we celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear, Rainestorm highlights 31 days of spooky scares to season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

Reign of terror: 1994

Brandon Lee in 'The Crow'

“Yeah, I think an eyelash is stuck in there.”

The horror… the horror: What better film for Devil’s Night than one that uses it as a backdrop from which to unfold its tale? Though it has unfortunately been overshadowed by Brandon Lee’s untimely death, this atmospheric actioner has gained cult status over the years for director Alex Proyas’ visionary take on the graphic novel. Spanning Devil’s Night through Halloween, the film follows murdered musician Eric Draven on his quest to avenge the slaying of his fiancée exactly one year after the fact. Brandon Lee is astonishingly good in what is essentially a genre picture. It’s clear he wanted to climb out of the shadow of both his father and his own martial arts career. Whether or not he truly had the chops, or whether he would have succeeded, has been a source of endless speculation. But his performance is what drives The Crow and infuses it with a vitality and earnestness that would have been conspicuously lacking had he decided to just play it loose. Michael Wincott and Tony Todd are elegantly macabre and dangerous as the gangster and his right hand man that run the city. The crow itself is an interesting plot device, utilized quite cleverly here down to the inevitable showdown.

Halloween haunt: Detroit sits in almost constant darkness. During the brief daytime scenes a gray gloom hangs over the city. Costumed trick-or-treaters provide an all-too-brief respite from the dark alleys, drug dens, dimly-lit bars and deserted slums of the city.

Tastiest treat: After throwing himself off a building, Eric laughs wickedly at the realization that he cannot be injured.

Check the candy for: The Crow graphic novelist James O’Barr can be seen stealing a TV set from Gideon’s after it has blown up.

Devilish discourse: “Suddenly, I heard a tapping, as of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door… you heard me rapping, right?”

Goes great with: Sweeney Todd (2007). A bloody good film in every sense. Tim Burton has never done and will likely never do better than this grand guignol musical horror show. Literal geysers of blood amidst heart-wrenching ballads will have you cringing and laughing simultaneously.

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