River Phoenix’s lost final film comes to Whistler
Based on today’s freshly released schedule, the Whistler Film Festival continues to build on its reputation for offbeat programming. Chief among the oddities is the film River Phoenix was making when he died.
The story of a desert-dwelling weirdo who toys with a Hollywood couple when their car breaks down, Dark Blood was “80 percent finished” when the actor OD’d in 1993. The film was subsequently placed in a vault by its insurer, until director George Sluizer rescued his footage by means that weren’t, by all accounts, entirely legal. Sluizer’s reconstructed edit includes his own narration in place of the scenes that were never completed.
Based on the film’s history, plot, and Sluizer’s reputation—he made the classic creepfest The Vanishing (and, yes, the not-so-classic U.S. remake)—Dark Blood promises to deliver a properly unnerving 90 minutes of cinema. It certainly generated plenty of buzz as it made its way through various festivals in the last year, including Berlin, Miami, and the venerable Split Festival in Croatia.
There are 42 features coming to this, the 13th year of WFF. Notable among them: the Marc Emery doc Citizen Marc; Chinese blockbuster Finding Mr. Right; Bruce McDonald’s The Husband; the Carl Bessai-Brent Butt collaboration No Clue; the fantastically weird Patch Town; a nude Jay Brazeau in Sex After Kids; and the reputedly insane horror film, Cheap Thrills.
Rather brilliantly, festival programmer Paul Gratton has also paired Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story with the full, 156-minute cut of Caligula.
The whole shebang begins on December 4 with the Jason Priestley-directed Cas & Dylan, starring Tatiana Maslany and Richard Dreyfuss. The full schedule is here.