"Urggh urgghh. Ooog arrggg gruggggg gurggggg googggg urrrr gruurrr gurr goorg grurg gaarr gaharg gurgh. Gurggh!"
In a prehistoric time. In a dangerous land. Where man is the new kid on the block. This is the story of violence, betrayal, love, and survival told in a series of monosyllabic guttural sounds, set against the backdrop of volcanic eruptions and pterodactyls.
Facts of the Case
20th Century Fox is not playing around here. Splashed on the cover of One Million Years B.C. is Raquel Welch, brilliant red hair flowing, clad in her loincloth bikini, gazing upward, probably at a dinosaur or maybe at one of the key grips trying to stare down her top. Sly, Fox, recognizing that a cleavage-bearing Raquel Welch will probably move more discs than a scraggly John Richardson.
This old-school vision of humanity in its infancy follows the life of Tumak (Richardson), a caveman with brilliant blue eyes and a tendency towards violence. He is the son of a mighty chieftain in a tribe, whose members specialize in beating on each other with big wooden sticks. Tumak has a brother, a manipulative (if cavemen can be manipulative) snot who burns quick with envy and pioneers the bowl cut.
Tumak's tenuous life nearly ends when a family BBQ turns violent. Spotting Tumak crunching on a savory wild boar rib, dad snags it from him and starts chowing. Not having any of this, Tumak attacks, and after a few stick blows, the upstart youngster takes a tumble off the cliff.
Exiled from his community, Tumak wanders the savage lands. Before he takes even a few steps he is confronted with that most legendary of prehistoric beasts: the giant iguana. Again, narrowly escaping with his life, Tumak ends up at the beachside hangout of a hippie/Aryan caveman commune, where he meets the luscious Loana (Welch).
Tumak's temper gets the best of him again, and he finds himself jettisoned from his second tribe in almost as many days. But Loana, smitten with the bad-boy image, follows, and the two begin their life together, characterized by nonverbal love and skin-revealing loincloths.
Their adventures bring them fact-to-face with a T-rex, a triceratops, a couple of bastard pterodactyls, Tumak's old tribe and, eventually, an unruly volcano.
I have to admit I have a soft spot for these old, stop-motion monster movies. For some reason I really get a kick out watching animated action figure creatures roaring and eating action figure people, while actors shout and hurls stones at nothing in particular. I suppose I could trace this fascination back to my love affair with the old Sinbad movies and, of course, King Kong.
As far as stop-motion mayhem, One Million Years B.C. brings home the bacon.
Watch in horror as the peaceful seacoast cavemen battle the vicious dinosaur! Cringe as one of the poor schmucks is chewed on! Be astounded at the awesome sight of a triceratops and a T-Rex laying the smackdown on each other, decades before Jurassic Park III gave us dino battles! Gasp as the pterodactyls engage in midair combat and a helpless Raquel Welch screams, held fast in a talon!
Then again, you may find the antiquated effects absolutely stupid and crappy. For me, "stupid and crappy" translates into "charming and fun." Besides, I'd take a stop-motion monster over a super-obvious CGI creation any day.
Aside from the spectacle of the film, there really isn't much else. How many emotional depths can you dive into when your characters grunt the whole time? Basically Loana and Tumak dig each other and hang out.
Now, since this an historical epic and, I'll assume, not unlike programs on The Discovery Channel that dealt with the same timetable, I'll share with you the valuable information I learned about cavemen and their times:
• Iguanas, spiders, and turtles, the size of colonial homes,
existed back then, and they all liked eating cavepeople.
Fox included some information about the transfer process on the disc. Apparently, it was a real ordeal getting this film onto DVD. The original print had been destroyed and, thus, the studio was forced to go to multiple sources to secure a complete transfer. As such (and taking into account it's almost 40 years old), it's possible to look past the grainy visuals of the film. Just the fact they pulled it off deserves recognition. Sound is a typical stereo mix for films of this age. The audio is loud enough, and the monster effects get real strong play. The finishing volcano scene could have used a little more oomph, though.
For thought-provoking celluloid, look elsewhere. For a blast from the past, mount up!
Raquel Welch is brought up on multiple charges of "Looking Super-Hot" in the first degree. Case dismissed.
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