(US - 1981)
Directed by Noel Marshall. Written by Noel Marshall and Ted Cassidy. Cast: Tippi Hedren, Melanie Griffith, Noel Marshall, John Marshall, Jerry Marshall, Kyalo Mativo, Frank Tom, Steve Miller, Rick Glassey, Will Hutchins, Zakes Mokae. (Unrated, 94 mins)
Films with the most noble of intentions sometimes turn out to be misbegotten train wrecks, but even by the standards of misbegotten train wrecks, few movies went as far off the rails as 1981's ROAR. Several years in the making, ROAR was a $17 million home movie/vanity project from one-time Hitchcock muse Tippi Hedren (THE BIRDS, MARNIE) and her second husband, agent and producer Noel Marshall. After working on two films back-to-back in South Africa--1970's SATAN'S HARVEST and 1971's MISTER KINGSTREET'S WAR--Hedren become a passionate advocate for wildlife preservation, founding the Acton, CA-based Shambala Preserve animal sanctuary with Marshall in 1972. As the couple's fascination with wildlife grew, they came up with an idea they were convinced was a game-changer: make a movie showing these wondrous creatures--lions, tigers, and other big cats, plus elephants and other animals--interacting with humans in a peaceful co-existence. Studios balked at the idea, telling Hedren and Marshall that pulling it off with convincing special effects and camera trickery would be impossible and the notion of professionally training real wild animals to work with actors would be insane. Undeterred, they opted to take the insane route.
pictorial), eventually moving to a desert ranch when the pack of big cats got to be too much to handle and probably didn't win them any points with their neighbors. Marshall's logic was that if the cats got used to living with them, they'd be able to function on camera, working with humans in a narrative feature that also doubled as a heartfelt public service announcement for wildlife preservation. With first-time writer/director Marshall at the helm, with additional script contributions by THE ADDAMS FAMILY's Lurch and Marshall family friend Ted Cassidy, who died in 1979, ROAR began shooting on the Shambala Preserve in 1974 and wasn't completed until 1980. Funded independently, with a good chunk of the proceeds coming from Marshall's huge payday as the executive producer of THE EXORCIST, ROAR would eventually require Marshall and Hedren pouring almost all of their personal finances and selling off a good chunk of their possessions (including a house in Beverly Hills) to see it through to completion. The end result was such a doomed disaster that no Hollywood studio would touch it and it only got a sporadic release in Europe and the rest of the world in 1981 and into 1982 before disappearing, becoming one of those lost films that you heard things about but concluded "That has to be bullshit." No, it's not bullshit. ROAR, resurrected in spring 2015 by Drafthouse Films, is real. And it has to be seen to be believed.
|Noel Marshall: Filmmaker. Dreamer. Dumbass.
|Tippi Hedren trying to intervene in
the mauling of her daughter Melanie Griffith
|Future SPEED director Jan De Bont
after having his scalp
stitched back on.