And you thought Tippi Hedren had it bad in The Birds…
Everyone loves cats, but there’s a limit to how far you can take your adoration. Tippi Hedren and her husband/manager Noel Marshall took their obsession to the absolute limit.
Whilst touring Africa, the pair became devoted to raising awareness about the overhunting of wild lions, tigers and jaguars. Roar soon became a passion project for the duo, which they hoped would help to raise awareness, however the animal trainers they approached were less convinced and called the idea “brainsick” and “completely and utterly insane.”
Undetered, Hedren and Marshall soon learned that lions would never get along socially unless they were raised together, so they secretly began to adopt and breed lions within the grounds of their Beverly Glenn home. For close to a decade, Hedren, Marshall, Melanie Griffith (Tippi Hedren’s daughter) and Marshall’s three sons all lived, slept and ate with an ever-growing pride of lions.
Their menagrie soon grew to over 100 animals, so the family created Shambala, a nature preserve 40 miles north of Los Angeles. It was there that they filmed Roar.
Due to their familiarity with the animals, the entire cast was comprised of Marshall, Hedren, their four children and a few seasoned animal trainers. European cinematographer Jan de Bont( who would later direct Speed and Twister) was recruited to shoot the film, his first American production.
The shoot took five years and has been called “the most terrifying and dangerous film making ever committed to celluloid”.
Over 70 bloody attacks on cast and crew were documented. de Bont was scalped by a lion resulting in 220 stitches on his head. Hedren endured a fractured leg and deep scalp wounds. Griffith was mauled by a lion, resulting over 100 stitches and reconstructive surgery. Noel was gored so many times that he was eventually hospitalized with gangrene.
Financiers pulled out two years into production, forcing Hedren and Marshall to sell virtually everything they owned to personally finance what would become a massive $5 million dollar production.
When the movie finally debuted in 1981, Roar was deemed by Variety as the “most disaster-plagued film in the history of Hollywood.” It was also a financial disaster.
Today, found and re-released by Drafthouse Films, we can now watch the most epic and amazing animal thriller ever made.
To quote Drafthouse Films CEO Tim League “The lighthearted slapstick of the surface masks one of the most intense, white-knuckle, nail-biting thrillers ever seen. The cast is in constant mortal danger as dozens of adult lions “improvise” around them. At numerous times Marshall drips blood as he fends off ferocious advances from jaguars and tigers alike. Melanie Griffith’s real-life mauling is on display in the final cut. A jaguar licking honey off Tippi Hedren’s face was an untested idea that could have easily ended very, very badly. Knowing the backstory of the production, you can see perpetual terror in the eyes of the cast as an army of lethal predators close in around them.”
When: 8.00pm, 10 September 2015
Location: Windmill Hill City Farm, Philip St, Bristol, City of Bristol BS3 4EA
TICKETS ARE NOW SOLD OUT!
All profits to Windmill Hill City Farm
An unprecedented––and wholly unpredictable––action-adventure, Roar follows wildlife preservationist Hank (The Exorcist producer Noel Marshall in his sole and career-derailing turn as an actor and director), who lives harmoniously alongside a menagerie of over 100 untamed animals, including cheetahs, elephants, lions and tigers on a preservation in the African plains. When his wife and children arrive (real-life wife Tippi Hedren, The Birds, and step-daughter Melanie Griffith, Working Girl, and his sons John and Jerry Marshall) for a visit, a long-brewing battle for dominance between the lions erupts and threatens their very lives.
“It’s like Walt Disney went insane and shot a snuff version of Swiss Family Robinson.” Hitflix
“Like watching a live-action Lion King as Mufasa holds a switchblade to your throat.” Complex
“To see this 1981 lion drama is to become a dog person.” The Guardian