The Ghost and The Darkness Movie Review
… and a review of the “New Releases” at Netflix. Thumbs down.
The Ghost and The Darkness
Written by: William Goldman
Starring: Val Kilmer, Michael Douglas
Directed by: Stephen Hopkins
Rated: R for some violence and gore involving animal attacks
For Oldie But Goodie Day…
oh you didn’t know about that one? Well, it’s the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, when you’re eating stale pumpkin pie and sandwiches made of dry, old bird flesh…hehehehe that was gross, if I do say so myself, and I do ….and sitting on your butt in front of the tube, and you watch an Older but Gooder movie. Get it? Got it! I knew you would.
… this year, I chose to watch The Ghost and The Darkness.
Ok, truthfully, I just made up the Oldie But Goodie day this very year, but that’s because there’s nothing good to rent! I’m too lazy and poor to drive to the actual theater unless there’s something playing there that I GOTTA see …Like Borat. I will gotta-see-go-to that one but it’s not here yet. I’m crossing fingers and making mental sacrifices to the Movie Gods because rumors say it won’t come to my eensy-weensy hick neck of the woods, but I believe in the power of mental sacrifice. Seriously, you should see the bleating of the mental sheep being slaughtered on the altar. It’s enough to impress any Movie God. …. Geesh, people, I’m kidding. Ok? Get a sense of humor. I don’t really imagine killing little sheep going “bah-bah” all innocently, with fuzzy white hair and big liquid eyes. These sheep are ugly, and mean. They have sharp horns that they use like wicked knives to slash you when you turn your back. These sheep deserve to be sacrificed. Did I mention their eyes are yellow and all slanty-pupiled? Like satan eyes? There, that ought to satisfy you bleeding mental hearts.
Seriously, my choices among the new releases on Netflix* are the likes of “Nacho Libre” (Jack Black in spandex… ewww, no, make that a double ewww…). Or there’s “Monster House”, which truthfully does look like a pretty decent cartoon flick- IF you want to watch a cartoon flick, and I don’t, not without my goddaughter spending the night. I reserve such half-way decent animated flicks for nights like those. And then there’s “Over the Hedge”, another cartoon, and this one maybe not as good. If you’re a rabid, wild-eyed Over the Hedge fan, for god’s sake, don’t spew foam-flecked fury at me. I said “maybe not as good”. I really don’t know and don’t intend to waste the effort of typing to find out what kind of reviews it got. The whole cartoon thing again, you know. Let’s not forget our next choice… Ice Age:The Meltdown. This was indeed, Uhdorabull, but I saw it. (small children in my care+rainyday+local theater was playing it= How I Saw IceAge:TMD.) So, this lineup of New Releases in the Netflick’s hallowed lists leads one naturally to the question of, WTF? Or, to be less vulgar, why are there all of these kid movies being let loose on us right now? Or is it a conspiracy focused upon me and my netflix account alone? Gawd, I hadn’t thought of that until just now, but it’s beginning to all become clear now….
Other boring to mind-numbingly boring choices in New Releases are… The Breakup and um, I’m sorry, but I’ve had all of the breaking up and Jennifer Aniston I can handle this year. Not to mention the photograph on the cover of the DVD shows Vince Vaughn in bed, presumably undressed. EWWWW, I say again! Our wonderous The Lake House… my first movie review, ah the nostalgia…. Tom Cruise (who is nuts) in MI:3 and that is not a movie I would ever watch without it being a condition upon which my hostage-held family member would be released unharmed. Look at all of those words, and they are saying one thing… there’s nothing good, and new, to rent. If you’re going, “NUH-UH, Kaat, there’s THIS movie that’s new and good…” please, do share.
And how I digress…. The point of this review is The Ghost and The Darkness, the Oldie But Goodie Day Movie. I must stress the word “day” in that last sentence, because the first time I saw this movie it was night, and a rather dark and windy-blowy-scary night and, well, quite frankly, it made me pee a little when I had to walk a long distance to my car.
Based, yes, on a True Story, always a hook for me, TGATD takes place in Africa, in 1898. Our hero, Col. John Henry Patterson (played by Kilmer) is in charge of getting a bridge built for the railroad. He succeeds, then his career is made and life is gravy. He fails, and his reputation and his ass can be kissed goodbye. None of this would be a problem if it weren’t for the crazy antics of a couple of local lions. They are called, respectively, “The Ghost” and “ The Darkness”. Cute, huh?
What is so damn freaky about this movie, aside from the normal freakiness of man-eating creatures stalking people through long grass, is that the lions were so unnatural. They didn’t behave like lions were supposed to. They attacked in the usual lion-attacking time, night, but also in broad daylight. They’ll attack someone out alone, or pick out one tender morsel from the middle of a group of people. They don’t seem to want to eat their prey, they don’t seem to be flexing any territorial muscles or anything, no these big kitties are killing folk just for the pure pleasure of it. And nothing, I mean nothing, can kill these beasts, which are quickly taking on mythical proportions and being named as demon-possessed. Here’s where I remind you- True Story.
Patterson watches his railroad workers hightail it to the hills, and desperate to get the cats dead and the bridge finished, he calls in Charles Remington, a big-game dude who aint afraid of no pussycat. Remington is played by a whiskery, leather-faced Douglas, and he does a pretty good job of it too. I’m, for once, not going to spoil anything else because if you haven’t seen this movie, and you choose to, I want to you to experience the nail-biting suspense that you’re supposed to.
After watching this movie, I did a little research. These lions were called the “ famous man-eating lions of Tsavo” and if that isn’t a title a lion can be proud of, I dunno what is. They did, in fact, behave very peculiarly, they killed around 140 people, and there is a book written by Patterson himself, that can be read online, telling the tale. If I ever get around to reading it, you know my review will follow shortly.
I give it 4 &s
&... it really did freak me out, but without a lot of CG gore
&… they used real lions instead of CG lions
&… it’s a true story, c’mon people, that means fascinating and scary
&… the music, the scenes, the low, threatening voices of the natives warning Kilmer of the lions’ eveeel, all of it gives you a big old case of the heebie jeebies and if you don’t jump at least once, then you’ve got steel nerves, baby. Steel ones.
*If you get Netflix, for gosh golly sakes, add me to your FRIENDS list. It’s so easy. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to see what everyone else is watching, too!