Many films have ascended to legendary status for their troubled productions. Apocalypse Now, Heaven’s Gate, and The Man Who Killed Don Quixote all famously far exceeded their budget and production scope. Thanks to the sleuthing and restoration efforts of Alamo Drafthouse, we can add one more name to that pile of terrifying disasters: 1981 safari film Roar.
Roar embodies the old maxim never to work on a production with animals. The film was intended to showcase lions and tigers living alongside humans and raise awareness for their conservation, but nearly a decade of production (including living alongside the animals to acclimate them) left the entire cast and crew horrifically injured. Everyone was gored in some fashion; Noel Marshall developed gangrene from his wounds, and cinematographer Jan de Bont was scalped. Crew dropped like flies, and producers pulled financing. Even during the injury-free parts, the filmmakers had to wait for the animals to “act” appropriately for each shot, prolonging the filming. It’s a miracle that the film was ever finished, even if the process is more interesting than the product.
You can read all about the chaotic production of Roar from Alamo Drafthouse as well as from crew member Randolph Sellars. Alamo Drafthouse has led the effort to raise awareness for this film in anticipation of its theatrical re-release next month, but they almost didn’t need to do any work. The tumultuous, violent, terrible production speaks for itself.
We don’t have this one available in the library, but we look forward to the Blu-ray release “this summer.”