I first saw The Crow: Wicked Prayer while in the throes of a brutal case of stomach flu — the movie was on the SyFy Channel (back when it was still the Sci Fi Channel), and days later, I thought that in my weakened state, I must have imagined how deliriously awful it was. Surely, no movie could attain that level of stupidity, could it?
Later, I stumbled across a copy of the flick on DVD for $5 and snatched it up. I’ve now seen it three times and I’m — well, not happy, exactly, but I’m somewhat pleased to report that yes, in fact, The Crow: Wicked Prayer is truly one of the absolute stupidest movies I’ve ever seen.
As the movie opens, we find ourselves in the “polluted mining town” of Lake Ravasu, on the Raven Aztec Reservation. The tribe is closing the “toxic mine” in order to open a casino, and we see that the miners and the tribe are at odds over this, because there are about nine of each on either side of a fence waving protest signs around and yelling at each other.
It’s against this backdrop that we meet our bad guys: Pestilence (Yuji Okumoto), Famine (Tito Ortiz), War (Marcus Chong), and Tara Reid. Everyone except Tara has a custom car with their name painted on it. They all do a bunch of stupid shit, eventually busting Luc Crash, a.k.a. Death (David Boreanaz) out of a chain gang. Tara plays Death’s girlfriend, Lola Byrne — Crash and Byrne, get it? That’s the awesome level of cleverness this movie displays in literally every goddamn scene.
Death and the others meet up at a church, where they threaten the Priest by dousing him with gasoline and saying “Your local Satanic cult is back in black.” Tara and Death dance around and say some incredibly stupid dialogue.
We cut to a crappy trailer, where Jimmy Cuervo (Edward Furlong) wakes up in a heap of feathers with a scorpion on his chest. Picking up the scorpion, Jimmy says “He found himself in mystic places.” The cleverness, how it abounds. As Jimmy exits the trailer, he finds two guys spray-painting “Injun Killer” on the side of the place.
Elsewhere, Jimmy’s girlfriend Lily (Emmanuelle Chriqui) does a lameass spoken-word recitation of the opening narration from the original Crow movie while her dad, tribal leader and Priest Danny Trejo, looks on. Nobody approves of her taste in boyfriends but Lily tells Jimmy “I believe in a lot of things — even you, Jimmy Cuervo.” Soon afterwards, Lily’s brother, a cop, stops Jimmy and threatens him, saying “Nobody likes you, Jimmy Cuervo.” Good Lord. And people say Ed Wood is the worst filmmaker of all time. Eventually we’ll learn that Jimmy beat a guy to death for trying to rape Lily, and that’s what everyone is so upset about.
This being a Crow movie, you know something bad will befall Jimmy Cuervo and his lovely girlfriend, and it isn’t long before Jimmy and Lily find themselves on the wrong end of Death and his pals down at the trading post. While sporting silly masks, Death and the others string Lily and Jimmy up from the rafters and perform a really fruity Satanic ritual, during which we see flashbacks of Jimmy and Death laffin’ it up during their days on the chain gang together — and lemme tell you, this movie is rife with flashbacks, or at least flashcuts, endlessly snapping us back to scenes we watched only moments earlier, as if the filmmakers were worried that the audience might be so dazzled by their brilliance, we’d need to be reminded of every damn thing that happens so as not to lose our way.
Long story short: Jimmy and Lily are murdered and Jimmy’s body is dumped in the local landfill. Death and the others head back to their Satanic clubhouse, where they celebrate their Satanic ritual by enjoying — I couldn’t make this up — devilled ham, devilled eggs, and devil’s food cake. Please, do not fail to notice how unbelievably clever the filmmakers are.
Meanwhile, the mystical crow comes to see Jimmy Cuervo and he’s revived to wreak vengeance upon the Satanic cult. And lemme tell ya, the movie really kicks into high-gear retardation once Jimmy gussies himself up in Crow makeup, because when he’s decked out in the Crow costume with his face painted up, Edward Furlong looks exactly like a petulant, slightly chubby 16-year-old girl. In fact, I dare you not to laugh every time he’s on screen, especially when he’s trying to look fierce.
Of course, Lily’s brother and Danny Trejo (why the hell wasn’t he the Crow?) assume that notorious Injun Killer Jimmy Cuervo murdered Lily and they form a posse to go after him.
Progressing as these movies do, Jimmy starts tracking down and confronting his killers, beginning with Pestilence, who is boozing it up at a nearby bar. Again, try not to laugh as Jimmy snarls and mumbles in an attempt to seem tough. And even though I’ve seen this movie three times, I’d still swear that Jimmy says “Hassenfussenfussmyvagina” at one point in this scene.
If you’ve seen even one entry in the Crow series of films, you can pretty much guess how the storyline plays out, but again, the insane level of stupid on display in this movie really ups the ante, particularly when Dennis Hopper shows up as El Niño, a devil-worshipping pimp who talks in wigga jive (“What’s it gonna be, homie?”) and owns a stripclub/whorehouse where Macy Gray (!) works and the Satanic cult’s final battle with Jimmy Cuervo takes place (well, mostly — the movie sort of refuses to end at that point). And just for the record, let me state that there probably couldn’t be two guys I’d less like to see fight each other on camera than Edward Furlong and David Boreanaz.
While I’ve never read the novel by Norman Partridge that The Crow: Wicked Prayer is “inspired by,” from what I know of the book, I think it’s safe to say that the blame for this travesty of cinema rests squarely on the shoulders of writer/director Lance Mungia and his co-writers, Jeff Most and Sean Hood. Their unrelentingly insufferable delight at their own perceived cleverness taints this flick from the word go, and it’s obvious they set out to make a cult film without understanding one simple rule: filmmakers don’t make cult films, audiences do. There’s nothing more annoying than watching a flick that desperately tries to be quirky and “out there” in hopes of landing that cult-film status, and this one claws madly at itself in its desire to hit the target.
That said, however, I highly recommend The Crow: Wicked Prayer — but with one word of warning: do not attempt to watch it by yourself or you’ll just want to stick your head in the oven. But add some buddies and some liquor and you’re good to go.
For more funky movie reviews, check out my book Unsafe On Any Screen:
And you might enjoy my collection of short stories, Tales of Misery and Imagination: