The Crow

Stylish, dark revenge fantasy with torture, drugs, and gore.
  • Review Date: October 4, 2010
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 1994
  • Running Time: 111 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Style far outweighs the substance here, with a basic endorsement of vigilante revenge-justice -- police are useless at stopping crime, so one victim resurrects as a ghost superhero to clean up the streets. Secondary message about power of love, even from beyond the grave.

Positive role models

Even though he's a menacing character, undead Eric doesn't harm the innocent or the lone upstanding policeman who befriends him. In between torture-revenge killings, Eric protects a little girl and tries to reform her drugged out single mother.


Much blood and gore, with characters shot, stabbed, slashed, thrown from windows, exploded, hit with cars, impaled on gargoyles, burned, beaten, etc. Eyes are gouged out. Some individuals burned in the tongue, shot/stabbed through their hands, and otherwise tortured-mutilated (sometimes willingly). Violent rape seen in flashbacks.


One bare breast, plus cleavage-revealing and fetishistic outfits. Characters have drug-fueled sex. Eric and his fiancee in various states of undress in flashbacks of their love affair. The villain appears to have a kinky sexual relationship with his own stepsister (shown topless in the shower from the back).


Frequent "f--k," "s--t," plus "dickhead," "asshole," "fart," "crap," "dammit," and "God" used as an exclamation.


Part of a popular comic book franchise. Various car models and insignia on display.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Crime-lord villain snorts cocaine. A single mother shoots up morphine with a syringe. Another character pincushioned with hypodermic needles until he overdoses. Binge drinking and violent drinking games. Bad guys and good guys smoke mass quantities of cigars and cigarettes (but Eric warns a good guy he should quit).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this dark comics-based cult classic is packed with frequent ferocious violence and grisly death, plus a flashback of rape. Torture precedes a number of killings, with one character especially fond of gouging eyes. Expect some brief toplessness and strong hints of unconventional sexual activity. Profanity is frequent, especially "f--k." Cocaine, cigarettes, and lots of alcohol make appearances. Law and order is practically nonexistent.

What's the story?

In a nightmare version of Detroit on Devil's Night -- the night before Halloween, when vandals traditionally set fires all over the city -- vicious street thugs on the payroll of an organized-crime kingpin attack rock musician Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his girlfriend. Eric is thrown out a window to his death, while the girl is gang-raped and beaten, later dying in agony. One year later Eric rises from the grave, a sort of flesh-and-blood ghost, able to heal from almost any wound, with a guardian crow as his companion. This undead avenger begins hunting down and killing the various scumbags (still very much at large, thanks to the Motor City's clueless police) who were responsible for the tragic homicides of the lovers.

Is it any good?


Imagine the gothic Batman crossed with rocker Alice Cooper crossed with some teen-idol vampire and you've pretty much got THE CROW, which, like Highlander, is almost as much of a music-video as a supernatural fantasy. It nonetheless dazzled critics and viewers in the MTV-youth demographic for the action and ultra-stylish visuals heavily veneered by atmospheric computer graphics. Acting is also better than it has to be, for a basic revenge-hit-list tale, though the storyline is fairly predictable as it goes from one freakish hoodlum's spectacular death after another courtesy of Eric, the only real surprise being that worse-than-useless city police aren't in cahoots with the main villain.

The Crow got sad extra attention for the bizarre death of actor Brandon Lee (son of action icon Bruce Lee), mortally wounded in an on-set gun stunt gone wrong. That didn't stop producers from hatching a clutch of Crow sequels, all pretty much reruns of this premise, with different actors starring as other face-painted, spectral crimefighters stalking urban criminals who all seem dressed more appropriately for industrial-dance-music rave parties.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about violence in this movie. Were there parts that lingered with you even after the movie ended? If yes, why do you think that is? How does mixing sex with violence effect viewers? When is revenge justified?

  • Talk about avenging superheroes. Are they more interesting when they are invulnerable and all-powerful, like Eric (or Superman?), or when they are more human, like Batman?

  • How are drugs portrayed in this movie?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 11, 1994
DVD release date:November 24, 2001
Cast:Bai Ling, Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott
Director:Alex Proyas
Run time:111 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:a great amount of strong violence and language, and for drug use and some sexuality.

This review of The Crow was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old September 1, 2011
age 15+

do that

if you cant stand the super blood annd stuff watch the tv version like i did they skip them but not osn osn shows watch like in mbc max if it comes
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written bySpielberg00 November 9, 2011
age 15+

Don't be fooled. This is not a tame superhero film. If you thought The Dark Knight was explicit, just watch this.

My rating: R for brutal violence, drug use and nonstop strong language.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byVictorianGirl July 22, 2011
age 16+


I love it, but its far too gorey and risque for kids; normally i disagree with the rating system but this R is deserved.


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