Director – Lance Mungia, Screenplay – Sean Hood, Jeff Most & Lance Mungia, Inspired by the Novel by Norman Partridge, Producers – Jeff Most & Edward R. Pressman, Photography – Kurt Brabbee, Music – Jamie Christopherson, Music Supervisor – Jeff Most, Digital Effects – Look Effects (Supervisors – Mark Driscoll & Henrik Fett), Special Effects Supervisor – Giuliano Fiumani, Production Design – Fred M. Andrews. Production Company – Dimension Films/Edward R. Pressman/Jeff Most Productions/Fubu Films/Wicked Prayer Productions Inc
Edward Furlong (Jimmy Cuervo), David Boreanaz (Luc Crash), Tara Reid (Lola Byrne), Dennis Hopper (El Niño), Emmanuelle Chriqui (Lilly), Dave L. Ortiz (Tanner), Marcus Chong (War), Tito Ortiz (Famine), Yuji Okumoto (Pestilence), Danny Trejo (Harold), Rosemberg Salgado (The Priest), Macy Gray (Cara Mia), Rena Owen (Mary)
In the town of Lake Ravasu on the Raven Aztec reservation, the white miners are at bitter loggerheads with the Indian council who want to shut the mines down and build a casino. Jimmy Cuervo, a white kid who lives in a derelict trailer on the edge of the town, is in love with the Indian sheriff’s daughter Lilly. Jimmy’s old friend Luc Crash is busted off a prison chain gang by his girlfriend Lola Byrne and rejoins his Satanic cult associates. Led by Luc, they go on a murder spree across the reservation, Luc seeking vengeance for the murder of his miner father by Indians. They burst into the general store where Lilly works and hang both Lilly and Jimmy – Lola tearing out and eating Lilly’s eyes, while Luc cuts out Jimmy’s heart. However, the crow spirit brings Jimmy back from the dead. Jimmy sets out on a trail of vengeance, slaughtering Luc’s gang one by one and trying to stop Luc before he completes the marriage ceremony that will make him into an avatar of Satan.
The Crow (1994), starring an ill-fated Brandon Lee and adapted from the graphic novel by James O’Barr, was a cult hit. The Crow inspired three sequels, The Crow: City of Angels (1996), The Crow: Salvation (2000), with the third of these being The Crow: Wicked Prayer. There was also a short-lived tv series The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (1998) and a series of original novels. A remake of the original has been announced for the 2010s/20s. In each film, the distinctive black-and-white clown makeup was adopted by a different actor.
While the original Crow film was celebrated, none of the sequels have gotten very good notice. This is particularly so in the case of The Crow: Wicked Prayer, which enters into the realm of the spectacularly bad. The director chosen this time around is Lance Mungia, an unknown whose previous venture onto cinema screens was the gonzo post-holocaust film Six-String Samurai (1998). The Crow: Wicked Prayer was inspired by one of the Crow spin-off novels, Wicked Prayer (2000) by Norman Partridge. I have not been able to find a copy of the Wicked Prayer novel, which is supposed to be not too bad – but going from various descriptions there seems no similarity between the plots of it and the film.
Certainly the opening of The Crow: Wicked Prayer takes your attention – where all the other Crow films have been set in a stylised urban environment and streets that glisten with chic Gothic mood, Wicked Prayer is shot in daylight amid the open desert setting of an Indian reservation. Alas, Lance Mungia fails to invest the film with any of the dark atmosphere of the previous Crow films. We get a good many confusing and pretentious scenes with David Boreanaz and hoods running around in silly masks and some silly blurred visions as Tara Reid receives visions. Mungia also introduces all the hoods in a series of freeze-frame introductions that have been borrowed from a Guy Ritchie London gangster film – but here, there is a laughable pretentiousness as each of them is then identified with one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The entire film is perpetually verging on bad movie laughability – in one thoroughly ridiculous scene, David Boreanaz and goons supposedly undergo a Satanic peyote ritual where we see them all standing around eating party food (!!!) and then having food fights, while Tara Reid dances with a stuffed dog. The results are so laughable they wrecked Lance Mungia’s career and he has not directed anything since this.
Moreover, everything has a ludicrous tameness. The scene where Edward Furlong and Emmanuelle Chriqui are killed by David Boreanaz and cronies holds some potentially strong elements – Tara Reid gouging out Chriqui’s eyeballs and then devouring them, David Boreanaz cutting out Edward Furlong’s heart. However, The Crow: Wicked Prayer, in aiming for a teen horror demographic, shows none of this – these acts are crucially only ever talked about and happen off-screen. Another similar scene that draws laughable attention to itself owing to Lance Mungia’s pulling of his punches is the massacre at the dancehall where all the victims are shot beneath a white sheet that conveniently falls and covers them just before the bullets hit.
However, the major thing that kills The Crow: Wicked Prayer is the performance of David Boreanaz. David Boreanaz came to fame as the vampire Angel in tv’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) and then earned his own spin-off series Angel (1999-2004) and more recently as the FBI agent on tv’s Bones (2005-17). In The Crow: Wicked Prayer, Boreanaz is cast in a role that is just not him. On tv, Boreanaz has a nice guy image and it is more than apparent here that he just cannot do macho and dangerous. He gives a terrible performance – all full of tough-guy poses that collapse into the entirely laughable. He gets some amazingly awful lines: “Hurry up and make me the fucking Anti-Christ”. Boreanaz’s bad acting goes into complete overdrive once he becomes possessed and starts ranting at 78 rpm as though he has suddenly become wired on speed about how he and Tara Reid are going to create the apocalypse around the world.
The other thing that kills the film is the casting of Edward Furlong as the undead avenger. Edward Furlong was once seen as a promising new face with Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and delivered a number of okay performances through the rest of the 1990s but subsequently disappeared into obscurity following various busts for DUI. Brandon Lee had a magisterial power in his excellent essayal of the role of The Crow in the first film. In the equivalent part here, Edward Furlong looks too babyish and cute. Once decked out in the black-and-white clown makeup, Furlong looks like no more than a pouty Baby Goth or some moping disaffected emo teenager who is feeling that life is all too much for him to cope with.
Bad performances are not limited there however. Dennis Hopper turns up as a Satanic priest of some sort. Hopper at least lives up to his madman reputation and lets go for it. The results are hysterical. Hopper’s conception of a Satanic priest is clearly as some kind of macked out pimp daddy dressed in a fur coat and surrounded by a harem of gangbanging hoes with guns (which include R&B singer Macy Gray among their number). Hopper appears to have ad-libbed most of his performance where he seems determined to throw in gangbanger and street slang and babbles away at it in a frenetic splurge without clearly the slightest idea about what he is saying.
(Winner Worst Film in this site’s Worst Films of 2005 list).