In the movie ‘Roar,’ actor/director Noel Marshall is tackled while playing with lions. His wife, Tippi Hedren, the star of Hitchcock’s “Birds,” and her daughter, a teenaged Melanie Griffith, also sustained gory injuries. The cult classic is being re-released across the U.S. this April. (Image: Drafthouse Films/Olive Films)
Roar, originally released in 1981 and returning to theaters on Friday, April 17, has been called “the most disaster-plagued pic in the Hollywood history.” The cast and crew racked up 70-some injuries during the 11-year filming of the movie, which is being released by Drafthouse Films in partnership with Olive Films.
For over a decade, Noel Marshall, Tippi Hedren, and their young family (including Melanie Griffith, who is Tippi Hedren’s daughter) lived with 150 untrained wild animals to create what became the most dangerous movie ever made. The trailer — which is definitely worth two minutes of your time to truly comprehend the “holy-crap” factor — makes no apologies about the film’s appeal. (That appeal being: Watch people get mauled by lions.)
Drafthouse Films CEO Tim League recently called Roar “the next Holy F***ing S*** masterpiece.” Roar became notorious during filming for its long list of injuries and misfortunes, including but not limited to: several fires, a flood, numerous cast members requiring stitches due to bite wounds, and a scalping. That’s right, a scalping.
No animals were harmed during production.
Marshall and Hedren had the idea for a movie about a house overrun by wild cats after a visit to Africa. Hedren began rescuing endangered big cats in 1972; the couple would go on to open The Shambala Preserve in Soledad Canyon, California, about an hour outside of Los Angeles. (Hedren still serves as president of the preserve to this day, and founded The Roar Foundation to support its efforts.)
Roar’s animal cast members included 130 big cats — lions, tigers, cougars, jaguars, and leopards — plus two elephants, three sheep, and numerous exotic birds. The human cast, however, was intentionally kept small, and was limited to the Marshall-Hedren family, animal trainers, and essential crew. (Some reports say that 70 cast members were injured, but the number technically refers to the number of incidents, not the number of people involved.)
Here’s a look at some of the most shocking injuries from the film’s production. For showtimes and locations, visit drafthousefilms.com.
Melanie Griffith: facial reconstructive surgery
While filming “Roar” as a teenager, Melanie Griffith was mauled by a lion and had to undergo plastic surgery. The movie includes the footage of the attack. (Image: Drafthouse Films/Olive Films)
At age 14, Melanie Griffith (Tippi Hedren’s daughter, and the mother of Fifty Shades star Dakota Johnson) was mauled by a lion — an event captured on camera and shown in the film. She needed more than 100 stitches and underwent facial reconstructive surgery. Ironically, Griffith temporarily quit the film early in its shooting, confessing to Hedren, “Mother, I don’t want to come out of this with half a face.”
Tippi Hedren: broken leg, scalp wounds, gangrene
Actress and animal activist Tippi Hedren broke her leg while riding an elephant during “Roar”’s filming. (Image: Drafthouse Films/Olive Films)
Best known as the star of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, actress Tippi Hedren sustained numerous injuries during the course of Roar’s production. After the elephant Timbo broke her leg, Hedren developed black gangrene — a potentially deadly condition where body tissues die from infection or lack of blood flow. She would eventually require a skin graft on the leg to replace the dead tissue. Hedren was also bit on the head by one of the lions, a moment that was captured on film and made it into the movie.
Noel Marshall: multiple leg wounds, gangrene
Noel Marshall, starring as Hank in Roar, receives a “kiss” from one of the lions. (Image: Drafthouse Films/Olive Films)
In a sign that Roar was doomed from the start (aside from the whole “we’re shooting a movie with 150 wild animals” thing), less than one week into filming, a lion bit director and lead actor Noel Marshall through the hand, halting production.
But The Exorcist producer’s bad luck didn’t end there. Later on set, one of the lions began to lick the makeup off of Marshall’s calf … then proceeded to chomp down on the actor’s bare leg and drag the man across the ground. Marshall was hospitalized for six months as he recovered from the injuries, which included a bout of gangrene. It took him years to fully recover.
Hedren and Marshall divorced in 1982, the year after Roar flopped in theaters. (The film cost $17 million, mostly financed by Hedren and Marshall themselves, but only made $2 million worldwide.)
Jan de Bont: scalped by a lion
In “Roar,” lions take over a family’s home in Africa. The movie was shot at a wildlife sanctuary owned by the movie’s director and lead actress. (Image: Drafthouse Films/Olive Films)
Cinematographer Jan (pronounced “John”) de Bont would later go on to shoot Die Hard, Basic Instinct, and The Hunt For Red October, and direct Speed and Twister. But before his box office fame, de Bont was mauled and scalped by a lion during the filming of Roar. According to news reports, the injury required 220 stitches. After recovering, de Bont returned to complete Roar’s filming.
John and Jerry Marshall: concussions, bite wounds
A young Jerry Marshall escapes from a pack of tigers in Roar. (Image: Drafthouse Films/Olive Films)
Noel Marshall’s sons John and Jerry, Melanie Griffith’s step brothers, experienced lion-induced concussions throughout the shoot. The 300-plus-pound lion Togaru once pinned John for 20 minutes before releasing the man’s head from his jaws. And Jerry was rushed to the emergency department after a lion played too rough and bit the teen from ankle to mid-thigh.
Read This Next: What Really Happens When You Crack Your Knuckles
Let’s keep in touch! Follow Yahoo Health on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.