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GUYANA: CRIME OF THE CENTURY (CULT OF THE DAMNED) (1979) Director: Rene Cardona, Jr. VCI Entertainment

In 1976, Rene Cardona Jr. co-wrote the film SURVIVE, which was based on a real-life tragedy wbelow plane crash survivors were compelled to retype to cannibalism, and it was directed by his prolific father. A few years later, Cardona Jr. was ago to tackle an also more inrenowned catastrophe, and also this time he remained in the director’s chair for GUYANA: CRIME OF THE CENTURY. Based on events that developed barely a year after this was lensed, the film recreates the last days of Jim Jones, a fanatical California-based minister that put up a commune in Guyana, which ended up in a mass suicide entailing himself and over 900 followers.

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Our movie commences with the ondisplay warning “Names have been adjusted to defend the innocent,” but all you really have to know is that Reverand Jim Jones is below referred to as Reverend James Johnchild and also played by the underrated Stuart Whitguy, and also the community of Jonesville is now dubbed Johnsontown. In the fevery one of 1978, Johnson and also his congregation are given permission to erected shop in Guyana, South America, through a lot of of the flock fancying him as a Christ-like number whose word is absolute regulation. But all is not rosy in this utopia, as citizens are exploited as tough labor and also then offered rations of rice through a spot of bland gravy. Although Johnchild rants and raves about all points holy and his love for his human being, he rules over them as a sadistic tyrant. A would-be deserter is drugged and left on the railroad track to be crushed; a trio of boys captured pinching midnight snacks are puniburned in the snake pit, through water torture, and also shocks to the personal parts; and a young couple captured making love has actually the male required to be sexually assaulted in front of everyone by a big black male (luckily,

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the scene cuts amethod prior to we the audience is based on anypoint further than suggestion).

Meanwhile, word of the horrors of Johnsontvery own acquire back to the UNITED STATE by means of complaints from friends and family members of the followers, and also an investigation is under method. The golden state congressguy Lee O"Brien (Gene Barry in a strong performance), sets up a team of reporters, photographers and also various other interested parties to fly to Johnsontown and also determine the truth around it with their own eyes. But after Johnkid advises his load to act happy and also wear painted smiles, some of them decide they desire to leave with O"Brien—all which are gunned dvery own before they could take off for the States. After a failed attempt to arvariety exile in the Soviet Union, Johnson provides his followers swig a concoction of Kool Aid laced with cyanide, and also over 900 Johnsontown occupants are discovered dead prior to the authorities arrive.

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Although Cardona’s film might have been beaming through sensationalism, the exploitation is surprisingly toned dvery own, basically limited to the aforementioned happenings. It’s as though he wanted to make a much more credible, straightforward reinforming of the appalling occasions, probably aiming it at an extra mainstream audience (this film was overshadowed by the more highbrow telefilm, GUYANA TRAGEDY: THE STORY OF JIM JONES, additionally presented to U.S. audiences in 1980). Although there are stretches of boredom below, the “train wreck” curiosity of the subject matter, the outstanding redevelopment of the Jonesville/Johnsontown camp once compared to authentic photos and also newsreels, and a familiar cast -- filled with noteworthy character actors in the trash film phases of their career – aid pull this off, at leastern on B grade level. Whitman was a smart alternative for the imposing lead, constantly hiding behind dark sunglasses and exemplifying a true madguy with as well a lot power. His divine speeches to his faithful legions display a man practically possessed, while the various other side of Johnboy is viewed as an ailing, scheming and also extremely shrewd individual.

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Also in the cast are Joseph Cotton and John Ireland also as Johnson"s shifty lawyers (they reportedly escape before the mass death, virtually acting out a Hope and also Crosby program in order pull off a quick exit), Yvonne DeCarlo (yes, Lily Munster) as Johnsontown"s Press Officer, Bradford Dillmale as the loyal medical professional who mixes the deadly punch, Robert DoQui (“King George” in Jack Hill’s COFFY), Jennifer Ashley (also in Cardona Jr.’s atrocious TINTORERA), Gerguy actress Nadiuska, Tony Young (CHROME AND HOT LEATHER), and also Cardona Jr. continual Hugo Stiglitz, whose voice has been re-referred to as by an additional actor. In truth, many the international actors have been re-referred to as by none other than Mel Welles!
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Released in the U.S. as GUYANA: CULT OF THE DAMNED and also re-edited dvery own to 90 minutes by Universal (who also opted to add voiceover narration by a “survivor”), the film was formerly easily accessible on VHS on the VCII label, an offshoot of porn company VCX, but it was very hard to find a copy. VCI Entertainment’s DVD presents what you would certainly label the director’s reduced of the film, clocking in at 115 minutes. The carry is acceptable for a budget release. Although fans of this title that never saw a decent, unreduced variation of it will certainly a lot of most likely be incredibly pleased, quality nuts will certainly nitpick at a quite soft-looking picture with bacount secure colors which regularly bleed. There is a scattered amount of print damage, and although the audio often suffers from background noise, it’s passable all at once. The film is presented in a suitable 1.78:1 ratio, but without anamorphic enhancement.

Extras on the disc are minimal—though many cast members are still alive, most of them are either retired or many most likely couldn’t be bothered doing interviews. There is no actual trailer for GUYANA existing, only trailers for 3 other VCI releases: ROBINSON CRUSOE, HANNIBAL and also MEIN KAMPF. Bios for Stuart Whitmale, Gene Berry, Jennifer Ashley and Rene Cardona Jr. are contained.


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All of them are sloppily put together, but worst of all, they display screen the wrong photo for Ashley!
(George R. Reis)