River Phoenix's last film, if you don't count his walk-on part in Gus Van Sant's "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues," was the dull country music drama "The Thing Called Love," co-starring Samantha Mathis and a young-ish Sandra Bullock. It was one of three films Phoenix made in the last year of his life -- before his tragic drug overdose at the Viper Room in October 1993, convulsing on the sidewalk outside while Johnny Depp, owner of the club, played with his band onstage inside -- and one of the two he actually finished (the other, "Silent Tongue," was written and directed by Sam Shepard). The film he didn't: Director George Sluizer's "Dark Blood," the film Phoenix was in Los Angeles to complete filming on in the first place back in 1993. Now Sluizer says he wants to finish the film.
Sluizer, a once-hot Dutch director who napalmed his career with his wretched remake of his own "The Vanishing" that very same year, says he has all the footage from the film and is ready to release it.
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 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.
1993 was a looong time ago: The film is actually about the dangers of nuclear testing, which, while a minor concern, doesn't quite have the zest it had in 1993. Footage from the film has surfaced before. In fact, here it is, right here:
Phoenix really made his legend in Van Sant's "My Own Private Idaho," and you can't help but wonder if he had lived, he might be the biggest actor in the world right now.
River Phoenix's Final Film to Be Released After 18 Years [The Hollywood Reporter]