Hank is a zoologist who lives in Africa, away from his family, in a house with a number of lions, tigers, cheetahs, cougars and other wild animals. His family is coming to visit, but because there has been a mix-up of what time they are arriving, Hank is not there when they arrive, and the family has no idea about his strange pets. The family finds themselves overrun by the flocks of wild beasts, and they can only pray that Hank comes home before they end up being some animal's dinner.
"Roar" doesn't have a premise that stands out much compared to other animal horror movies, and might actually have the thinnest plot of them all: family visits a home and has no idea that wild animals live there, and are attacked by them. That's essentially all there is to it. However, as you probably know by now, the production of the movie is the most interesting part and you can see it, feel it and be part of it through the entire movie, while you sit there is shock at how weird everything is. You know it by now that "Roar" was filmed with wild lions, tigers, cheetahs, cougars, leoparts, jaguars and even elephants, and many of the cast and crew members were seriously injured while making the movie.
How a movie like this could even be made is surprising on its own, but it all came down to a real family's love for large, wild cats. Tippi Hedren (lead actress of this movie, and also some smaller unknown movies like Hitchcock's "The Birds") and her then husband Noel Marshall (director) loved animals and the idea spawned from that. So they decided to make a movie with the entire family: Tippi Hedren and her daughter Melanie Griffith, Noel Marshall and his two sons John and Jerry Marshall. It was a nice little thing to do with the family, which ended up in some serious injuries. Some of these injuries include cinematographer Jan de Bont being scalped and needing over 200 stitches, Tippi breaking a leg from falling off an elephant, Melanie being in need of surgery afterwards, and assistant director Doron Kauper had his throat (among other tings) bitten open by a lion. Not to mention Noel, who got injured over and over again, as he plays the lead role himself. The long production ended in 70 crew members being injured in total. To say that the movie is insane doesn't quite cover it.
Does all of this make "Roar" a good movie? Not at all. The movie is pretty bad. There is little story and most things make no sense at all. Is it entertaining? Oh yes. It's incredibly entertaining. You can just tell how hard it was to try and make a serious movie while huge cats are clinging on you, biting you, chasing you, or even stealing your clothes. It's especially funny to see all of this happening in a really tight space. My absolutely favorite parts are when tigers manage to destroy two different boats! Honestly, while your jaw might drop at times due to the constant feeling of actual danger, the movie had me laughing out loud more than I could count. It's hilarious to see these people struggling to keep the animals calm. I honestly don't care too much that people were harmed, because they all knew what could happen in the making of a movie like this. Therefor, I was always rooting for the animals.
It's unfortunate that several lions died on set during a flood in 1978, but I don't think I can blame the production itself for that. However, I don't know how I feel about several different kinds of wild cat animals being put together in small places. I'm no expert, but if they are actually wild, isn't it a bad idea to do that? This is obviously just one of the many incredibly dumb things that happened during the production, but it's hard not to think about the animals since they have no control over it.
"Roar" needs to be seen, and I think it's great that it has gotten some heavy exposure close to 35 years after completion. It was seen back when it came out, but it has not been easily attainable until its recent DVD and blu-ray releases. Studio S Entertainment (Sweden's number one distributor for animal horror) have made sure to make the movie available in this territory, but you can probably find it elsewhere if you're not Swedish. And you should, because this is something special. Good? Absolutely not. But fun as hell, weird as hell, and a truly unique exploitation cult title.
I decided to watch the director's cut, where the additional scenes are dubbed to German (it's the only material that could be found). It doesn't matter much that they are dubbed. It might take you out of the movie a bit, but the story isn't that good to begin with. You're just here for the chaos anyway! The movie feels incredibly long considering the only redeeming value is the use of real animals and the attacks, butyou might as well watch the director's cut while you're at it. It's a weird experience worth getting through!