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Guyana: Cult of the Damned (1979)
"Guyana: Crime of the Century" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  25 January 1980 (USA)
5.3
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Ratings: 5.3/10 from 298 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 22 critic

Reverend Jim Jones, the priest of an independent church in the South American country Guyana, orders his followers to commit suicide. But not all of them follow him blindly and begin to think on their own.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Congressman Leo Ryan
...
Dave Cole
...
Richard Gable
...
Dr. Gary Shaw
Jennifer Ashley ...
Anna Kazan
...
Susan Ames
Nadiuska ...
Leslie Stevens
Tony Young ...
Ron Harvey
Erika Carlsson ...
Marilyn Johnson
...
Oliver Ross
Hugo Stiglitz ...
Cliff Robson
Carlos East ...
Mike Sheldon
Eduardo Bea ...
Reporter
Juan Luis Galiardo ...
Reporter
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Storyline

This horrific dramatization of the Guyana tragedy traces the steps of Reverend Jim Jones, a highly charismatic, but profoundly paranoid clergyman, who after years of evangelism and good deeds, begins his own church in the mid-western United States. When Jim Jones becomes increasingly obsessed with the belief that the CIA is "a wicked enemy" who is out to get him, he emigrates with his congregation to Guyana, where he plans to create a utopia. But Jim Jones' utopia consists of a society where he demands his followers turn their minds, bodies and possessions over to him, one that is rife with orgies, physical violence, mental torture, and sexual abuse of children and adults. Ultimately, Jim Jones' paranoia reaches a fevered pitch that culminates in him taking savage action against his own congregation. Written by VCI Home Video

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The movie that dares to tell the truth behind the most shocking crime of the century!

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Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

25 January 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Guyana: Cult of the Damned  »

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Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Ninja Terminator (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Time To Love
Written by Alfredo Diaz Ordaz
Performed by Robertha
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User Reviews

 
"White Night" of Terror.
1 May 2006 | by (brooklyn NY) – See all my reviews

#Slight Spoilers# Based on the true story of the late Reverand Jim Jones who's paranoid obsession of an impending nuclear holocaust as well as him and his followers, of the People's Temple in San Francisco, being rounded up and put in concentration camps lead to the biggest mass-suicide in recorded history in the hot steaming and snake-infested jungles of Guyana back on November 18-19 1978.

The entire event is told to us, off-camera, by a 24 year-old survivor of the Johnsontown massacre in the movie "Guyana Cult of the Damned". The movie goes back to a lawsuit against the People's Temple's founder Reverand James Johnson, Stuart Whitman, by the father of one of his followers who was "accidently" killed when he quit being a member of the Temple. California Congressman Lee O'Brian, Gene Barry, organizes a special task force that travels down to Guyana where Johnson has built a town for his some 3,000 followers to see if the accusations of torture humiliation and even murder of some of his followers against Reverand James Johnson are true.

James Johnson over the years has gone from preaching the words and teaching of Jesus Christ to becoming both a dye in the wool Marxist/Socialist even secretly joined the American Communist Party. Johnson has also become dependent on proscription drugs and the drugs were slowly killing him. That may well have been the reason for his state of mind in the two years that lead up to his grand exit, together with over 900 loyal and not so loyal followers,on that infamous "White Night" in November.

Life was hell in Johnsontwon with James Johnson ruling it with an iron fist and having anyone who disobeyed his orders or will tortured and humiliated in view of all the other Johnsontown members. In one case when a young couple were caught making love in the woods they were made to be forced to have sex, or other men of Johnsontown have sex with them, with male members of Johnsontown in full views of the entire Johnsontown community including the very young children!

When Congressman O'Brian came to Johnsontown to investigate the charges against Johnson all hell broke loose with scores of Johnsontown residents wanting to leave with him. Johnson himself already suffering from advanced brain and stomach cancer went berserk and ordered his men to ambush Congressman O'Brian before he, and the defectors of Jonsontown, the newsman and cameramen left Guyana brutally massacred most of them including Congressman O'Brian.

With the news of O'Brian and his fellow American citizens murdered Johnson got his followers ready for the big night that he's been planning and rehearsing for years the terrifying "White Night". With his faithful physician Doctor Gary Shaw, Bradford Dillman, mixing the deadly cyanide into a giant vat of fruit-punch Johnson had, and forced, his followers to drink it. Some 1,000 people in Johnsontown died before the US, and Guyanan, military could get there to save them from this murderous madman. When they finally got there, Johnsontown, the rescue squads found to their, and the worlds, shock and horror the biggest organized mass murder, by suicide, in human history had already happened. Even though Johnson's wife of 27 years Marilyn, Ericka Carlsson, and one of his young children took a drink of the death fruit-punch potion right in front of him thus going immediately into painful death-rattlings convolutions and dying the good Reverand Johnson, coward that he was, refrained from taking a drink and was shot,in the neck, instead by one of his loyal henchmen.

Shocking but true story about madness and murder with James Johnson using the most naive of people who thought that he was a kind noble and God-like man. Instead the crazed and drug addicted James Johnson sent them and their families, even their infant children, to a hell not heaven on earth like he had promised them. In the end Johnson destroyed everything good, if there was any, that he did in his life making him one of the most evil, and God-less, men that ever walked the face of the earth.

For some strange and ironic reason James Jonhson had a placard over his throne, or seat of power, at Johnsontown quoting the Spanish philosopher George Santanya stating " Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to relive it". Let's hope that we and the world learned from the evil deeds and actions of James Johnson aka Jim Jones and will always remember what he did and stood for and see to it, like Santayana's famous quote, that we never forget and never live to see or let it, or him, ever happen again.


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