How’s this for a tagline: “No animals were harmed in the making of this movie. 70 members of the cast and crew were.”
In 1963, Tippi Hedren was fending off fictional aves in Hitchcock’s The Birds. In the late 1970s, she found herself fending off real lions, tigers, and cheetahs alongside husband Noel Marshall in Roar. Marshall wrote, directed, produced and starred in Roar, a 1981 film that took nearly 11 years to film in locations in South Africa and the United States.
Eleven years is a long time to make a film, but what really makes Roar measure up alongside notoriously dangerous productions like Fitzcarraldo, Apocalypse Now, and Sorcerer is the very real and deadly environment in which Marshall subjected his cast and crew. Even crazier is the fact that most of that cast included his and Hedren’s own kids, including Hedren’s daughter Melanie Griffith and Marshall’s sons John and Jerry.
Here’s a brief rundown of some of the injuries that occurred on set, making Roar not only one of the most dangerous films of all time, but also one with a ridiculously high crew turnover rate…
- Cinematographer Jan de Bont received 220 stitches after being scalped by a lion.
- Tippi Hedren fractured her leg when bucked off of an elephant and received 38 stitches after being bit by a lion.
- Melanie Griffith received 50 stitches to her face and doctors thought she might lose her eye (she didn’t).
- Noel Marshall was diagnosed with gangrene after multiple attacks.
- John Marshall received 56 stitches after being bit by a lion.
- Assistant Director Doron Kauper received numerous injuries, including having his throat bitten open.
Now, 33 years after the film’s initial release and then dismal box-office returns, Drafthouse Films is re-releasing Roar in select theaters across the US.