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The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)

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A bridge engineer and an experienced old hunter begin a hunt for two lions after they start attacking local construction workers.


Stephen Hopkins


William Goldman
4,531 ( 617)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Douglas ... Charles Remington
Val Kilmer ... Col. John Henry Patterson
Tom Wilkinson ... Robert Beaumont
John Kani ... Samuel
Bernard Hill ... Dr. David Hawthorne
Brian McCardie ... Angus Starling
Emily Mortimer ... Helena Patterson
Om Puri ... Abdullah
Henry Cele Henry Cele ... Mahina
Kurt Egelhof Kurt Egelhof ... Indian Victim
Satchu Annamalai Satchu Annamalai ... Worker #1
Teddy Reddy Teddy Reddy ... Worker #2
Raheem Khan Raheem Khan ... Worker #3 (as Rakeem Khan)
Jack Devnarain Jack Devnarain ... Nervous Sikh Orderly
Glen Gabela Glen Gabela ... Orderly #1


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 Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Control Your Fear See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence and gore involving animal attacks | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



Germany | USA


English | Hindi

Release Date:

11 October 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Geist und die Dunkelheit See more »


Box Office


$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,215,063, 13 October 1996, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Charles Remington was based on Anglo-Indian big game hunter Charles Ryall, superintendent of the Railway Police. See more »


When Patterson is waiting up on his perch (with the baboon as bait), the familiar "Who-cooks-for-you" call of a barred owl (Strix varia), only found in North America, can be plainly heard in the background. Although there is a species known as the African barred owl, it is an entirely different species (Glaucidium capense) and is much smaller, with a call bearing no resemblance to that of the larger American species. See more »


[first lines]
Samuel: This is the most famous and true African adventure.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The beginning of the end credits is shown with a photograph of the real bridge as background. See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Going Bananas (2016) See more »


Terere Obande
Traditional music
Lyrics by George Acogny
Produced by George Acogny
Performed by The Worldbeaters with The Johannesburg Choir
See more »

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User Reviews

Flawed but entertaining, and with a killer bite
28 April 2010 | by Samiam3See all my reviews

True story, two lions killed a hundred railroad workers in east Africa in 1898. Col. Pattersson is sent from England to supervise the building of a bridge in Uganda across the Tsavo river. He ends up a bit over his head when the lions show up. He teams up with famed hunter Charles Remmington to bring down the cats from hell.

It wasn't until I heard what other people had to say that I realized that The Ghost in the Darkness is half way to a Jaws rip-off. But of course this is a real story. I've even seen the hides of the two lions preserved in Chicago's natural history museum. They were actually maneless, but for obvious reasons this film gives its killer fuzzballs the hunk hair which makes Lions stand out from any other cat.

I do know that cats are generally more aggressive than dogs towards people (because of their rogue personalities), but these lions are unnaturally ferocious. They are more monster than animal, which is the intended approach of course. Sometimes though it gets a little unbelievable. One scene in particular, involves the cats ambushing a dorm of about two dozen, all are killed. Regardless of their size or ferocity, are we supposed to believe that two lions can kill that many people in thirty seconds flat without one escaping. It's a tent for god sakes.

There are a few other problems with The Ghost and the Darkness. Tom Wilkinson's performance is annoying. this is too lame a role for such a good actor. I didn't think Michael Douglas was that great either. He plays the role with too much Indiana Jones in him. A there are also a couple of scenes which are just playing goofy.

In general though, The Ghost and the Darkness actually amounts to an entertaining monster movie. I'll give the most credit to the animal trainers, because these lions give great performances. I wouldn't call it a scary movie but it certainly has its grizzly parts which might shake you up some. The Ghost and the Darkness bridges the gap between Thriller, horror, and adventure, and I'm pretty sure it'll give you what you want (assuming this is your kind of movie)

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