“Dream The Crow Black Dream”: Jerry’s Look Back At THE CROW

Crow2When something hits for me, it HITS. I’ve always been that way and I doubt that the fervor I have for everything I dig will ever lessen. That excitement, while having led me into a lot of great memories, have given me an equal amount of recent moments, full of wondering, “What the hell was I thinking?”. I recently experienced that feeling of embarrassment when showing my kids the greatness that is the 1994 Alex Proyas-directed masterpiece, THE CROW.  It’s a film that holds up in every single way, never loses its charm and still packs a punch, but also recalls a time in my life when the then 13 year old version of myself wasn’t into the film, I was OBSESSED with it. It led me to dig a little deeper into the memory that fades with time as you get older, and the experience of revisiting the film led to a realization of it wasn’t embarrassment I was feeling, but the feeling of comfort that the film had given me as a struggling teen years before.

My childhood was spent having a pretty regular diet of a combination of horror films and Bruce Lee flicks. Horror has always been my church, but ENTER THE DRAGON was a movie that I absolutely adored growing up, and when Bruce’s son, Brandon, came to my intention via a drive-in theater screening of SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO, I had a new hero. I followed his rising career, from that film, to his first full on starring role in HALLOWEEN 4 director, Dwight H. Little’s RAPID FIRE in 1992. When it was announced that Lee would be starring in the film adaption of James O’ Barr’s “adult comic book” THE CROW (that’s what the print story labelled it as) as some sort of vigilante super hero (again, a slight misconception on the part of the new story I read as a kid), I HAD to find it. I went to every single book store in town (comic and otherwise), and kept asking for the “adult comic book” THE CROW, to which the majority of the book sellers would just look at me like I was asking for an issue of Hustler. My quest was unsuccessful. In the midst of being bummed about not finding a copy of the graphic novel, I was watching TV like I did every night, and the news broke that Brandon Lee had accidentally killed while filming THE CROW, and it hit me like a TON.OF.FUCKING.BRICKS.

When it was announced later in the year that the film would be released, I was over the moon with excitement, and even made a paper ring calendar to count the days until its May 13th, 1994 release date. I bought the soundtrack on cassette, listened to it until it didn’t play right, bought the CD copy, and when May 13th came..I was at the theater an hour early to see THE CROW. To say the film resonated with me would be the understatement of the year. No, I had never been killed and brought back to life to avenge the death of my fiance’. Hell, I hadn’t even had a serious girlfriend yet at that point. What resonated with me, was a combination of things, both personal and visuallyDream The tone, the look, the visually aesthetic of the scenery, the grey and black color scheme, the dark storytelling. It all made me feel normal for feeling that way so often by that point. The embodiment of revenge, Brandon Lee’s character of Eric Draven, made me feel a kinship to the film that I had, at that point, only felt towards horror films (for that story feel free to read this article). I’m sure that THE CROW helped a lot of people who lived through similar childhoods as mine feel as welcomed and almost vindicated as much as it did for me.

It’s embarrassing and somewhat silly to admit, but I left the theater with tears in my eyes that day. Not because of Eric fulfilling his mission of exacting revenge on T-Bird, Funboy, Skank and Tin-Tin, no, I left with tears in my eye, because like the moment I found solace in horror films as a child, I felt like I found yet another film that made me feel normal and stood up for. Having been a victim as a kid, I exited that theater feeling quite different, as odd as it may sound to some.

I went back to see THE CROW twice that week, and after moving to Albany, OR that summer, when the film was re-released for a short time, I saw it another couple of times. My mother saw something in me that lit up when I watched the movie, and made sure my room was COVERED in that solace I had found. I had four posters, an artist’s charcoal sketch of the character, the graphic novel, two copies of the soundtrack, three shirts, and to top it all off, my mom surprised me with a VHS copy of the film when it was released (this was before VHS tapes were sold everywhere, so she got me a previously viewed copy from the local video store). For the next three years that passed, every Halloween, I dressed up like Eric Draven, and when THE CROW: CITY OF ANGELS arrived in 1996, I was there opening night too. It didn’t affect me the way that the first film did, but it was enjoyable.

I look back at that time in my life with a bit of embarrassment, because really, it’s kind of silly. I’m sure I came off like a very odd kid to any teachers I had, and I know wearing as many t-shirts having to do with THE CROW didn’t raise my chances with the girls,..it made me feel normal though. In time, I found solace in other things, such as punk rock, writing and skateboarding (though it’d be a lie to say I was ever good at that one) and I didn’t revisit THE CROW for quite some time. The time had come to move on from using things to mask childhood grief and I reached the fork in the road that everybody who has experienced a childhood trauma eventually comes to, where they use their experiences as victims as either a crutch or a catalyst.

Last year, when seeing the Bluray of the film on sale at Best Buy, I picked it up, with plans to show it to my kids. Watching it with them brought back all of those memories, the ones of walking into the theater expecting a fun movie, and walking out, having felt  like I wasn’t weird anymore. As my kids watched it and smiled at the ass-kicking, I smiled, thinking back to a few years of my life that were spent being obsessed, in the best of ways.


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