We've all heard about the troubled productions of Apocalypse Now and Fitzcarraldo. Now imagine combining that madness with 150 untrained, fully grown lions, tigers, cheetahs, and jaguars.
In an excellent piece on Indiewire today, Emily Buder shared the story -- and it's an amazing one -- of how the most dangerous movie ever made was re-discovered and released by Tim League and the awesome people at the Alamo Drafthouse. That film is called Roar, and its premise is simply absurd and terrifying. It features writer/director/producer Noel Marshall, who stars in the film as a wildlife conservationist living in harmony with hundreds of wild animals, including the aforementioned large, deadly kitties. When his family comes to visit, all hell breaks loose.
Check out the Alamo Drafthouse trailer for the film:
And here are a few clips, which might give you an idea of just how crazy this film is:
The Wikipedia entry for the film details some of the injuries that occurred on the set. Fair warning, the following paragraphs are not for the faint of heart:
Over 70 of the cast and crew were injured during the production of this film. Cinematographer Jan de Bont had his scalp lifted by a lion, resulting in 220 stitches. Tippi Hedren received a fractured leg and also had scalp wounds. This occurred after an elephant bucked her off its back while she was riding it. She was also bitten in the neck by a lion and required 38 stitches. This incident can also be seen in the film.
Melanie Griffith (Hedren's daughter) was also attacked, receiving 50 stitches to her face; it was feared she would lose an eye but in the end the wound was not disfiguring. Noel was attacked so many times that he eventually was diagnosed with gangrene. In one of those incidents, he was clawed by a cheetah when protecting the animals during a bushfire that occurred in 1979.
Amazingly, not a single person died on this production, which might very well be considered one of the greatest miracles in the history of cinema. Ultimately, Roar was in production for 11 years, costing upwards of 17 million dollars, much of which was Noel and Hedren's personal money. The film only made back $2 million.
If you want to read more about the absurd production of Roar and Tim League's singular drive to re-release the film through the Alamo Drafthouse, head over to Indiewire and check it out. You'll be glad you did.