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Guyana: Cult of the Damned (1979)

Guyana: Crime of the Century (original title)
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.


René Cardona Jr.


René Cardona Jr. (screenplay), René Cardona Jr. (story) | 2 more credits »
1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Stuart Whitman ... Reverend James Johnson
Gene Barry ... Congressman Leo Ryan
John Ireland ... Dave Cole
Joseph Cotten ... Richard Gable
Bradford Dillman ... Dr. Gary Shaw
Jennifer Ashley Jennifer Ashley ... Anna Kazan
Yvonne De Carlo ... Susan Ames
Nadiuska ... Leslie Stevens
Tony Young ... Ron Harvey
Erika Carlsson Erika Carlsson ... Marilyn Johnson
Robert DoQui ... Oliver Ross
Hugo Stiglitz ... Cliff Robson
Carlos East ... Mike Sheldon
Eduardo Bea Eduardo Bea ... Reporter
Juan Luis Galiardo ... Reporter


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


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


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


It's an unauthorized version of the Jonestown story, so many names were changed. Jim Jones is called "James Johnson." See more »

Alternate Versions

The original Mexican cut runs 115 minutes. The USA cut of the film was reedited by Universal down to 90 minutes. This USA cut, although tamer as far as violence and sexual situations go, has a tighter pace and a more documentary-style feel to it by adding some informative narration from an unseen male "survivor." See more »


Alternate-language version of Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980) See more »


Time To Love
Written by Alfredo Diaz Ordaz
Performed by Robertha
See more »

User Reviews

This movie tells everything but the truth
15 March 2005 | by skangasSee all my reviews

I have to admit that ever since I first heard about this cult I've been terribly interested in knowing just what the tag line of the movie implies that this movie tells you: The Truth Behind the most shocking crime of the century. This movie did everything but fulfill its' promise.

We get introduced to the cult in an opening scene with Reverend James Johnson, the leader of the cult, preaching in a church. He explains that they have gotten a piece of land by the "friendly socialists" in Guyana where they will establish a religious community. This is a key sentence, because the connection between Johnson and socialism becomes established over and over again. For example, in the "Johnsontown agricultural project", they listen to a woman that is trying to teach them Russian while they are working. Later in the movie, the U.S. Ambassador calls Johnson a socialist.

I think that the movie was made too soon after the incident to have any perspective. I was bewildered by the ignorance of the director that actually believed he could get any real insight in the event when not even a year had passed since! He tried and failed miserably, as far as I'm concerned. This movie is not even trying to tell the truth. The director is making almost desperate efforts to draw parallels between "suicide cults" and "socialists" using the infamous "guilt by association" method. I think that this is a very interesting movie if you watch it from that perspective - and bear in mind the echoes of the cold war. If you're trying to get to know what happened - look elsewhere.

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

25 January 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Guyana: Cult of the Damned See more »

Filming Locations:

Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,668,965, 27 January 1980

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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