Sir Robert Beaumont is behind schedule on a railroad in Africa. Enlisting noted engineer John Henry Patterson to right the ship, Beaumont expects results. Everything seems great until the crew discovers the mutilated corpse of the project's foreman, seemingly killed by a lion. After several more attacks, Patterson calls in famed hunter Charles Remington, who has finally met his match in the bloodthirsty lions. Written by
(Some Spoilers) True story of the Tasvo Man-eaters who terrorized the workers working on the Kenya Ungandan Railway back in 1898 killing and devouring almost 140 of them in nine, March-December 1898, months. It's during that reign of terror the Tasvo Lions, weighing some 500 pounds each, lived or dined almost exclusively on human flesh.
The film starts with Irish engineer Col. John Patterson, Val Kilmar, sent to Kenya by his British overseer, or boss, the pompous and all full of himself the future Sir, hoping that he'll be knighted by the Queen, Robert Beaumont, Tom Wilkerson. As soon as Col.Patterson arrives on the Dark Continent he's faced with a revolt by those workers that he's in charged of with them afraid to go out and build a bridge over the Tasvo River.
These two man-eating lions have been snatching and devouring workers at will and it thought that they, the killer cats, aren't even lions but evil and murderous spirits preventing the bridge, that's being erected on sacred native ground, from being built. The killings go on unabated and it's when one of the local native leaders Mahina, Danny Cele, is dragged out of his tent and eaten by the lions the rail workers just refused to go back out and lay tracks, to build the bridge, over the Tasvo River.
Being like phantoms more then lions the killer cats are immune to anything that Col. Patterson and his native guide Samuel, John Kani, can come up with in both trapping and killing the two giant felines. It's then out of sheer desperation that the "I've never been wrong in all my life" Robert Beaumont, it must have taken a lot out of his giant ego, hires big game hunter Charles Remington, Michael Douglas, to do the job, kill the Tasvo Man-eaters, that nobody including Col. Patterson can seem to do. ***SPOILER*** Remington who after failing to put down the killer cats with both Col. Patterson and Samuels' help goes out on his own, without Col. Patterson's knowledge, only to end up becoming the Tasvo Man-eaters next victim and meal.
Far better then many of it's critics and detractors say it is "Ghost and the Darkness" does have it's share of shocks and thrills despite not having the benefit, like similar movies like "Jaws", of having any real and state of the art special effects. There's only one scene where there's a mechanical or fake lion, like the shark in "Jaws", in the movie and that was about the most ineffective scene in which the killer cats attacked in the entire film. The lions are seen mostly in close up when they do most of their damage, attacking and killing the rail workers. But the few scenes where the lions do fully expose themselves, like the dream-like attack on Col. Patterson's wife and son, are truly heart-stopping and as good as anything you'd see a like-wise animal attack film.
P.S The notorious Tasvo Lions have been said to have become man-eaters because of an epidemic that killed off most of their food, gazelles zebra and wildebeests, in the area or their hunting grounds. This forced them to go for humans as prey since human beings were the only source of food, with all their normal prey dying out, left open to them. A far more interesting clue, in later checking out their skeletal remains, to the man-eating Tasvo Lions turning to prey on humans has to do with them having abscesses and infections in their teeth and gums. This had the lions suffer extreme and excruciation pain when they had to bite into the extremely thick and tough hides of their normal prey in order to kill and eat them. They turned to hunt kill and eat human beings only because their skin or hides weren't as tough and thus easier to penetrate and not cause the Tasvo Lions any terrible pains in doing so.
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