In the world of Hollywood it isn’t uncommon for actors to get hurt on the set of a movie, especially with elaborate stunts. Fortunately Hollywood tends to try and keep things under control and to keep people safe when the movie is under production.
Unfortunately this isn’t always the case, especially with the most dangerous movie ever filmed: Roar.
The movie “Roar” stars Tippi Hedren and Noel Marshall, along with Hedren’s real-life daughter Melanie Griffith.
Hank (Marshall) lives with his wild animals: two elephants, 110 lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars and cheetahs. One day his family (wife and three children) arrive at his home to visit him. The only trouble is that he is not at home, but all his animals are. The visiting family is in for one shocking experience (source: Wikipedia).
The reason why the movie Roar is famous, isn’t due to its terrific storyline, but rather about what happened during the filming of the movie.
Everyone who was involved with the movie probably thought that filming a movie with over a 100 untrained lions would seem like a bad idea, but unfortunately this didn’t stop director Noel Marshall.
The injuries that people sustained during the production of this movie, was quite vast. The tagline for the Alamo Drafthouse re-release of this movie states: “No animals were harmed in the making of this movie. 70 members of the cast and crew were”.
Cinematographer Jan de Bont whose credits include Die Hard, Basic Instinct and The Hunt for Red October, was scalped by one of the lions, resulting in 220 stitches. Tipp Hedren got a fractured leg as well as scalp wounds after a elephant bucked her off as she was riding it. She was also bitten in the neck by a lion and received 38 stitches. Melanie Griffith was also attacked in the film which required 50 stitches and facial reconstructive surgery.
Did you know?
During filming in 1977, Melanie Griffith was mauled by a lion and required plastic surgery. Griffith reportedly received fifty stitches to her face.
The lion attacks in Roar (1981) were real.
Cinematographer Jan de Bont was mauled and scalped by a lion on the set. De Bont required over 120 stitches to sew his scalp back from where a lion had bitten his head. After medical treatment, De Bont actually returned to the production to complete his D.O.P. duties.
With a budget of around US $17 million, this picture has been described as the most expensive home movie ever made.
During production, director/star Noel Marshall was attacked and severely injured by one of the lions in the film. He was hospitalized and it took him several years to completely recover from his injuries.
Melanie Griffith once said of working with lions: “Lions are a really tough act to play with. Not because they are dangerous, but because they are so funny. They upstage you every time. If you are in a shot with a lion you just know everyone is looking at the cat instead of you.”
Roar (1981), classified as an adventure movie, a thriller, and even a comedy, is not considered a horror movie. However, the making of this film has been labelled as a horror due to the nightmare production shoot which was devastated by bushfire, flood, foreclosure, animal attacks, crew resignations, rain and outbreak of disease.
Tippi Hedren once said of this movie: “This was probably one of the most dangerous films that Hollywood has ever seen. It’s amazing no one was killed.”
The unpredictable behaviour of the big cats also contributed to the many delays in filming. Sometimes after spending a number of hours doing camera set-ups, the big cats did nothing whilst sometimes something worth filming would happen so quickly that the production was not ready to film it or the five cameras being used missed the moment.
Noel Marshall initially and ultimately partially financed this movie from revenue generated from such other pictures as The Harrad Experiment (1973) and The Exorcist (1973).