Ghost and the Darkness: True story of Man-eating Lions

Jul 21, 2012 (Updated Jul 21, 2012)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Val Kilmer, Michael Douglas, Action, Story, Cinematography

Cons:Close enough to perfect

The Bottom Line: Watch this for an old fashioned thrill ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat.


The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)

The Ghost and the Darkness is a very well done filming of the horrific true Maneaters of Tsavo story that took place in central Africa at the end of the 19th Century.  The movie stars Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas as well as a pair of very frightening lions.  

The title refers to the name dubbed on the ferocious lions by the local natives, one was called the Ghost; the other Darkness. This adds a nice supernatural element to the story that is well played and adds a lot to the terror. Are they physical or spirits and can they be killed?

The background story concerns putting a railway through the unknown to allow transport of resources from the interior to market, as well as supply the mining operations.  This project gets thwarted when the lions begin their reign of terror.

Val Kilmer was the engineer hired to supervise the erection of a bridge across a lake and it looked like it was going to go without a hitch until the pesky lions showed up and scared the workers, a mix of Indian and African peasants working under British supervision. Val Kilmer is a take charge sort of fellow and he sits up all night waiting for the beast and kills it with a single shot thus relieving the tension.   This lion was apparently a solo effort and things calmed down for a bit.

Shortly thereafter a pair of man-eaters begins preying on the workers, starting with the strongest man who had earlier demonstrated his strength during the work day. The lions dragged him from his bed and made short work of him and the others found his remains a short distance outside camp. This begins the reign of terror that resulted in some 135 deaths over a nine month period.

A professional hunter (Michael Douglas) was hired by the company to kill the lions and the rest of the movie shows the efforts that took place trying to rid the area of these killers. Val Kilmer teams up with Michael Douglas so we have two against two.

Although the hunters try all the ideas they can think of it seems like the lions are always just ahead of them.  This makes for a very exciting cat and mouse game between the opposing pairs and the lions even try to turn the tables on them with some success.  I won’t give you the exact ending because I think it’s worth watching but I will recommend it to anybody who likes scenic beauty and exciting action because this film has a lot of it. 

The Paramount DVD is presented in 2.35:1 format in color with a running time of 109 minutes. The theatrical trailer is the only extra but the movie is worth seeing and it is in good shape.


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