EAST AFRICA, 1896. TWO LIONS ON A MAN-EATING RAMPAGE HAVE SHUT DOWN THE CONSTRUCTION OF A RAILWAY. BIG-GAME HUNTER REMINGTON AND CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER PATTERSON SET OUT TO STOP THESE UNSTOPPABLE MONSTERS. BUT IN THIS ASTON... more »ISHING TALE OF MAN VS. BEAST, THE HUNTERS BECOME THE HUNTED.« less
I did not expect to like this film, but I did. I was caught up in the man vs. nature storyline and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. I consider this a little gem of a movie and, although Michael Douglas seems to be playing himself (but with longer hair), I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him in his somewhat younger, healthier days.
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Suspense light-years beyond Jaws
5/0 | 05/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Ghost and the Darkness is about the two maneating lions that terrorized the crew building a bridge at a desolate, nowhere place called Tsavo, Africa, circa 1890s, a place that had long been known as an area of active maneating lions. The original account written by Col. John H. Patterson, the engineer responsible for building the bridge and killing the lions (and played superbly by Val Kylmer), is one of the greatest Classics of African Hunting Literature ever written and known very well by legions of non-Bambi outdoor enthusiasts around the world. Subsequent accounts, the best of which is the well-researched wrtiing of 20th Century African hunter Peter Hathaway Capstick in his "Death in the Silent Places" and "The Maneaters of Tsavo" have become nearly as popular. The movie does take some liberties with events but most of the key scenes in the movie actually happened though perhaps in a bit different context. For example, the movie has the den of the maneaters being found prior to the lions' deaths but it was actually found some weeks afterward. But that wasn't the point in 1898. The cave actually contained (as in the movie) the skeletal remains of hundreds of human victims, so many, in fact, the probability is that den had been used by maneaters for centuries. Not too surprising the crews and locals felt Tsavo was a place of Evil. Adding credibility to the longevity of use theory is the fact that four other maneaters who ran up a score of 50 souls in that same area were killed in a single day by hunter Robert Foran - in 1947. But wait. Professional hunter John Kingsley-Heath killed another maneater there too - in 1965. But wait - Peter Capstick's boss was killed and eaten not too far from Tsavo on Labor Day 1974. That's right - 1974. Where were YOU in 1974? The African and Indian cultures of the 1890s weren't, and aren't, the United States. The liklihood these two lions would quickly be seen as "more than just lions", as some unstoppable Evil is more like a guarantee. The abject Terror of 2000-3000 African and Indian laborers was a real as Death itself. That Terror is amply displayed in the movie, but is still understated. The movie's lions, even with their ominous role as "more than lions", act very much like real maneaters did, and do. And when they do it in a joust with unarmed humans, they usually win, bigtime, and assorted gore and human body parts are a consistant by-product of such festivities. I've never never read anything at all about a famous lioneater. The movie's filming and effects are very good. Michael Douglas, as the ficticious hunter Remington, supports Kylmer well, and with a well-done, darkly amusing style. The "shock" scenes are "SHOCK" scenes, especially one in particular. You will FEEL your blood pressure drop to zero only to be red-lining again in a flash. You WILL hold your breath and you may regain it. Seriously, allowing a young child to watch this is probably not the best of ideas, and not because of the gore but because many of the scenes of the primal, nightmarish Horror these maneating lions deliver take place after dark and "after dark" is already an "iffy" proposition for many kids without the fangs of Hades clashing in their minds. Sweet Dreams."
5/0 | 08/03/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I rented this movie and was not too impressed. Then I read _The Man-Eaters of Tsavo_, by J.H.Patterson, and rented the DVD again to compare it to the book. Unfortunately I think the film missed the real story. Patterson was not a struggling weakling who had to be saved by an American hunter; he was an accomplished hunter, he stopped the rebellion himself (and it was really a murder plot, not a riot), and he killed both lions himself. Michael Douglas' character never existed and Douglas hammed it up a bit too much, anyway.The true story was the terror of the nightly raids. Patterson felt helpless as he sat in trees night after night, hoping for a shot at the lions, but then only to hear terrified, agonized screams coming from other parts of camp. Instead of this nightmare, the film focuses on the tension of the hunting expeditions. Val Kilmer mentions 30 dead before we even know the lions have raided that much. The lions themselves were bigger and more frightening in the book. They were over 9 1/2 feet long, and had no manes so they could crawl through the tight, thorny bushes covering the land. They jumped over 9-foot-tall barricades and dragged their victims around by the throats. The Indian and African workers called them "the demons", so it's a wonder why the screenwriter chose the fictitious names for the film's title. The killing of the second man-eater is the most realistic because in truth, it took at least a half-dozen shots to take down these beasts, while they were charging at the men trying to kill them. Also the last human death in the story is realistic, because in the book Patterson tells the story of a man who was killed instantly in his bed when a lion bit through his temples and dragged his body out of the tent.Overall, I wish the screenwriter had focused on the terror of the nightly raids, though it may have been too graphic for audiences. Instead we're left with a mediocre action movie, with a couple of average-sized lions as the antogonists. Nice try."
The Ghost and The Darkness
Shari Jackson | Henderson NV | 07/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Excellent portrayal of a true story. Douglas and Kilmer are perfect for their roles as big game hunter (Douglas) and construction engineer. The story in itself is magnificient. Great excitement and terrific scenery!"
A. Stottelaar | South Africa | 07/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is amazing. Very old school, and thats probably what appeals to me most. It is a true story about the lions of Tsavo, and thats absolutely fascinates me! A definate purchase for anyone interested in Africa or wildlife!"
Something You Can Sink Your Teeth Into Mulitple Times
Craig Connell | Lockport, NY USA | 04/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I always found this to be an outstanding based-on a true story adventure film which holds your interest throughout. It features some great suspense and the story is fascinating. . A good surround system doesn't hurt here, either, as DVD provides some great sound.
Stan Winston, one of the best special-effects men in the business, lent his talents to this film while Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas are more than adequate in the starring roles and the African with the freckles (sorry, I don't have his name) is really a likeble fellow.
Except for the first one, the lion attack scenes are not gruesome and the filmmakers did a nice job a having just the right amount of action and lulls. Neither is overdone. This film has never been given much due but I've never shown it to anyone who didn't thoroughly enjoy it."