Guyana: Crime of the Century
|Guyana: Crime of the Century|
The current DVD cover features the two alternate English titles of the film
|Directed by||René Cardona Jr.|
|Written by||René Cardona Jr.|
|Starring||Stuart Whitman, Gene Barry, John Ireland, Joseph Cotten, Bradford Dillman, Mel Ferrer|
|Music by||George S. Price, Nelson Riddle and Bob Summers|
|Editing by||Earl Watson|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release date(s)||Mexico: 20 September 1979
United States: 25 January 1980
|Running time||115 min. (Mexico), 90 min. (USA), 108 min. (UK)|
|Country||Mexico (co-produced with Spain and Panama)|
Guyana: Crime of the Century (also known as Guyana: Cult of the Damned) is a 1979 exploitation horror film written and directed by René Cardona Jr.. The film, which was shot in Mexico is very loosely based on the Jonestown Massacre. It stars a number of American actors such as Stuart Whitman, Gene Barry and Joseph Cotten. The names of central characters are slightly tweaked from the historical ones: the film is set in "Johnsontown" rather than Jonestown, the cult is led by "Reverend James Johnson" (Whitman) rather than Rev. Jim Warren Jones, and the murdered Congressman is "Lee O'Brien" (Barry) rather than Leo Ryan.
Amongst numerous historical inaccuracies, the "Johnsontown" membership is largely cast with white actors, while in reality, and at its height, the majority of Peoples Temple members were African American.
Moreover, the film depicts "Sharon Ames" (the fictionalized version of Peoples Temple loyalist Sharon Amos, as played by Yvonne DeCarlo) being murdered, along with her children by a shadowy, knife-wielding man. In reality, Sharon Amos—a hardcore supporter of Jim Jones stationed in nearby Georgetown—followed the orders of Jones for his followers to die on November 18, 1978. Amos reportedly took a kitchen butcher knife and slit the throats of her two youngest children (Christa, age 11 and Martin, age 10), then asked her eldest daughter Liane (age 21) to kill her with the knife, thus leaving Liane to kill herself.
A minor inaccuracy concerns the "Johnson" death scene; as Johnson (Stuart Whitman) appears to expire from a gunshot, as he collapses, he pulls his shirt open by the lower four buttons. This is meant to explain why in actual Jonestown death scene photos, Jim Jones is seen laying on the pavilion floor with his red shirt open. It appears the real Jones' shirt was in that condition due to the effects of the body swelling after death, which is quite evident in all photos of the deceased Jones.
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