Love cats? Roar approval

BY ALEC GLUESING | JUNE 25, 2015 5:00 AM

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Hungry, territorial, or just plain murderous beasts have been a staple of filmgoers’ summer diets since Steven Spielberg’s mechanical shark made waves in 1975. Nothing lures audiences in like a bloody set of razor-sharp teeth — Jurassic World’s record-stomping début weekend proving beyond the shadow of a T-Rex that we puny humans are still giddy for creature features.

However, despite its impressive computer-generated dino chops, the latest Jurassic is largely just that: a flashy piece of digital shock and awe. Looking for something real, something dangerous?

Discerning thrill-seekers should check out Roar on Saturday morning at FilmScene, 118 E. College St. Directed by Exorcist producer Noel Marshall, the 1981 cult thriller stars Marshall, then-wife Tippi Hedren (The Birds), and their two kids in the completely flimsy, totally insane story of a family fending off more than 100 “pet” cats on their private wildlife preserve.

Did we mention that the cats were lions? And tigers and cheetahs? And that they were the family’s pets in real life, too? The fear, excitement, awe, and pure kookiness on display in Roar are all real.

So are the injuries and close calls. Marshall, his family, and a reported 70 other crew members all suffered numerous bites, scratches, broken bones, and other injuries. Amazingly, nobody died over the course of this film’s 11-year production. Many viewers will likely find the making of Roar just as fascinating as the end product — check out Hedren’s account of the process, The Cats of Shambala.

FilmScene is screening Roar as part of its family-oriented Picture Show series, but the tension and unpredictable predators on display may be too much for younger children. Drafthouse Films re-released this curio in April — film buffs will want to catch it before it slinks back into the jungle again.

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