The Ghost and the Darkness

Theatrical Release: October 11, 1996
DVD Release: December 1, 1998
The Ghost and the Darkness


While working for a railroad baron (Tom Wilkinson) in colonial Uganda, engineer John Patterson (Val Kilmer) finds his construction efforts stymied by a series of lion attacks. After more than 100 workers die, grizzled hunter Charles Remington (Michael Douglas) is called in to head the increasingly desperate effort to kill the animals. Based on a true story, director Stephen Hopkins’s thriller recounts an archetypal case of man vs. beast.

Dove Review

This is an interesting story with some suspense. Col. John Patterson (Val Kilmer) is an engineer who finds himself in colonial Uganda, attempting to build a bridge within six months so as to beat the Germans and French to it. The story takes place in 1898. Patterson leaves behind his young pregnant wife in London and looks forward to the birth of their child, which he hopes will be a boy.

However, he doesn’t plan on the fear and panic he encounters in the village in Africa, as two large lions, which seem to have supernatural powers, have been attacking and killing the people. When Patterson successfully kills a different lion, the people hope he is the one to kill the two man-eating lions. However, when the attacks become more frequent and bloody, he soon faces their wrath as they believe his presence has caused the increase in deaths.

Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas, who plays grizzled hunter Charles Remington, are at their best in this story, and it concludes in a satisfying manner. Unfortunately, the violence of the lions killing and eating human flesh, and the bloody results, are graphic and too intense to award this film our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal as a family-friendly movie.

Content Description

Sex: Kissing by a couple in a couple of scenes.
Language: GD-1; G/OMG-4; J-1; Chr*st-3; H-2; B-1; S-1; The word "fart" is used.
Violence: Some strong violent scenes with lions attacking and eating the flesh of people; scenes with blood on lion's mouths and on people's bodies; flesh being torn by lions; terrorized people dragged by lions; several deaths; a man has bloody hands from working so hard; the villagers shoot at lions; a man holds back the natives with a gun; a lion kills a baboon; lions are killed; a man dreams about a woman and child being attacked by lion; a lamp is kicked over and it starts a fire.
Drugs: A few scenes of drinking and a few men are intoxicated;
Nudity: Shirtless men are seen.
Other: There is fear and panic in the village and an outbreak of Malaria; some skeletons and skulls are found in a cave; there is a question as to whether or not the lions are supernatural creatures.


Company: Paramount Home Entertainment
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Producer: A. Kitman Ho
Genre: Action
Runtime: 109 min.
Industry Rating: R
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter