River Phoenix in "Dark Blood," Final Movie to be Released 18 Years After Death [TRAILER]

By Danica Bellini | Sep 21, 2012 03:26 PM EDT
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It has been almost 18 years since actor River Phoenix's sudden and unexpected death, leading to an unfinished version of Dutch director George Sluizer's 1993 drama/thriller film "Dark Blood." But now Sluizer has announced that Phoenix will star in his final movie post mortem thanks to the director's own sudden near-death experience. "Dark Blood" is set to premiere on September 27, 2012, at the Netherlands Film Festival to an invite-only audience.

"Dark Blood" stars 23-year-old Phoenix as a widower and recluse who awaits the end of the world while living in the desert and making toy dolls which he believes to hold "magical powers." When a couple's car breaks down out in the middle of nowhere, Phoenix comes to their aid and begins romancing an older female character played by Judy Davis. Jonathan Pryce and Karen Black also star in the film.

Phoenix and the movie crew only had 11 days left of production at the time his tragic death occurred.

Supposedly "Dark Blood" was repossessed by the film's insurance company following Phoenix's passing - insurers claimed there was no cost-effective way to save the film without a sensible ending. The film was shelved until 1999, when Sluizer learned that the insurance company wouldn't pay to keep it stored any longer.

According to Entertainment Weekly, that's when Sluizer was ready to act: "That's when I said, 'No, no, I'm going to save it from destruction. I have good assistants, if I can put it this way, and some people who are clever in finding the right key. I am an enterprising person." As to how the film got back in Sluizer's possession remains a mystery, but if it means fans may have the chance to see their beloved Phoenix back up on the big screen, anything was well worth it.

23-year-old River Phoenix was found dead outside Johnny Depp's Hollywood night club, The Viper Room, on October 31, 1993. He had died from a cocaine and heroin drug overdose. The young actor had starred in many hit films including "Stand by Me," "Running on Empty," and "My Own Private Idaho."

Following the 1999 ordeal, Sluizer didn't do anything with "Dark Blood" until he suffered a near-fatal heart attack in 2007. Since then he has considered everything in his life a miracle: "I had the feeling that I had to finish the creative work which hundreds of people had done together, so that it would be there for anyone who wanted to see it. I said, 'I want to finish the film before whatever happens. At least I will finish my job as best as I could.'"

Supposedly Sluizer had planned on asking Phoenix's younger brother, famed actor Joaquin Phoenix, to do the film's final voiceovers for River's character, since the brothers "sound alike".

The Netherlands Film Festival will take place in Utrecht, Netherlands.

Watch the "Dark Blood" movie trailer here:

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