River Phoenix's Last Film Will Finally Be Released After More Than 20 Years

Slate's Culture Blog
May 27 2014 8:47 PM

River Phoenix's Last Film Will Finally Be Released After More Than 20 Years

River Phoenix returns to the screen in Dark Blood.

Still from YouTube

River Phoenix, the unnervingly talented actor and elder brother to Joaquin Phoenix, was just 23 when he died of a drug overdose. At the time, he was about 80 percent through the arduous production of Dark Blood, which would become the final film in a short but legendary career that includes classics like My Own Private Idaho.

Dark Blood released a trailer today, confirming that the film will, more than two decades after its production, finally see a release. Phoenix plays Boy, a widower who lives on a desert nuclear testing site. One day, glamorous Hollywood couple Harry (Jonathan Pryce) and Buffy (Judy Davis) suffer a car breakdown nearby. Boy proceeds to hold the two hostage, with dreams of seducing Buffy and starting a new world.


Director George Sluizer had held onto the Dark Blood footage for close to 14 years. In 2007, when he was told an aneurysm would limit his remaining years, he decided to complete the film, glossing over the unfilmed scenes with voiceover narration. The result is still an unfinished product, but one whose dark story, striking imagery, and intense acting have produced critical acclaim on the festival circuit. The Phoenix family has declined to comment on, or be involved in, the film's release. Dark Blood will be available on demand later this year.

Sharan Shetty is a writer for Brow Beat. You can follow him on Twitter



Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.


Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Sept. 29 2014 10:00 PM “Everything Must Change in Italy” An interview with Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi.
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
Dear Prudence
Sept. 29 2014 3:10 PM The Lonely Teetotaler Prudie counsels a letter writer who doesn’t drink alcohol—and is constantly harassed by others for it.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 29 2014 1:52 PM Do Not Fear California’s New Affirmative Consent Law
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 29 2014 12:01 PM This Is Your MOM’s Mars
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.