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Hops and Box Office FLOPS: ‘THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS – Oh, Here They Come…They’re Man-Eaters’


The Ghost and the Darkness is an account of the Tsavo man-eaters—a pair of lions who terrorized a Kenyan-Ugandan railway construction camp from March to December of 1898. The history of the British presence in that region is complicated; and it is one, we will not touch on here. The movie barely does either.

Despite that, its issues lie elsewhere. From poor Irish accents to Michael Douglas hamming it up as big-game hunter Charles Remington, The Ghost and the Darkness doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Is it a historical drama? An animal attack-infused thriller? Or, more simply, some sort of bizarre piece of Michael Douglas performance art that is meant to boggle the mind?

Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas in the Ghost and the Darkness

Point of fact, it’s all three. Those elements don’t necessarily mesh well together. It’s a shame, really, because this historical tale of killer cats run amok seems ripe for big screen adaptation. And there are things here that do work well. It’s wonderfully shot, used real-life lions, and does a more than adequate job of transporting you to 1890s Africa.

At the end of the day, unfortunately, the 30 minutes of Douglas mugging for the lens kill the picture—just as John Henry Patterson (Val Kilmer) did his feline foes.

But that absurd turn is also why you need to see it. So sit back, tap a couple of Fear. Movie. Lions Double IPAs from Stone Brewing Co., and try your best to avoid the malaria slaughter hospital! I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt. Cash, and Chumpzilla, are torching the brush to lure out the fearsome beasts.

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction/Plot Breakdown – How do you effectively romanticize colonialism? Well, you attempt to make “Jaws with paws.” (00:00)
  • Lingering Questions and the Reality Wasn’t Real Enough Challenge – After fielding a few more questions from Capt. Cash, he challenges us to identify which elements of historical dramas were embellished to make the movie seem more realistic. (48:01)
  • Recommendations – A couple of Kilmer-centric recommendations are joined by an animated favorite. And next up: It’s a podcast Royal Rumble! The boys from The Double Turn join us to break down Lethal Weapon 4! (1:21:58)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to check out all the interesting factoids—the true story behind the lions and more—from this week’s episode!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbeanSpotifyAcast, and TuneIn!


Thomas L. Kelly

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