Saturday, 30 July 2016

Prehistoric Women

Title:  Prehistoric Women
Director: Michael Carreras
Released: 1967
Starring: Michael Latimer, Robert Raglan, Edina Ronay, Martine Beswick

Plot: When jungle guide David (Latimer) is captured by a tribe of natives who plan to sacrifice him to their white rhino god, only to soon find himself sent back in time a prehistoric age and caught between two warring tribes.

Review: One of the more overlooked films which made up Hammer Horror’s brief jaunt into caveman movies with this film originally intended to be the A-picture on a double bill with “The Old Dark House” only for studio head (and the director’s father) James Carreras to view it as being below Hammer’s standards and instead used the film as the support feature for a double with “The Devil Rides Out”. This of course should hardly have surprised any involved in the production seeing how it reused a lot of the sets and costumes from “One Million Years B.C.” while being shot quickly over four weeks.

A disposable bit of titillating fluff at best, this film lacks from the start any of the charms of Hammer’s other “cave girl” movies such as “One Million Years B.C.” or “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” which the release of this film was sandwiched between. At the same time Michael Latimer bland lead lacks any of the Doug McClure charm whose own caveman battling antics in “At The Earth’s Core” or “Land That Time Forgot” this film could be mistaken for attempting to imitate only fall largely flat for the most part.

The plot once we get into the prehistoric world despite a strong setup however soon descends into a blondes versus brunettes storyline as our warring tribes of fur bikini clad ladies face off in this timeline were the brunettes have enslaved the blondes while being led by their beautiful Queen Kari (Beswick) who has enlisted the help of a rival tribe known as “The Devils” who favour wearing papier-mâché animal skull masks and what appears to be half a gorilla costume. Kari offering her slaves to “The Devils” as brides / sacrifices in return for their continued protection.  This ceremony in particular is fantastic to watch as outside of yet more obvious titillation the selected girl is then forced to sit on top of the stuffed rhino which is being worshiped by the tribe in a perhaps unintentionally funny sequence.

Unsurprisingly David is soon picked for mating by Queen Kari only to eventually spurn her efforts when he discovers how cruel her regime is. The other men in the film meanwhile are kept confirmed to the mines and its unclear if Kari’s tribe actually have any male members seeing how like their blonde counterparts they are made up entirely of attractive model types with director Carreras clearly looking to tap into that same market that had been so thrilled by Raquel Welch’s definitive fur bikini antics in “One Million Years B.C.”.

Martine Beswick is probably one of the more memorable aspects of the film as we makes up for her less than believable whip skills with a smouldering shark like beauty, making it more of a shame she doesn’t have a better leading man to play off against. Edina Ronay meanwhile is a likeable enough love interest who performance rests more on how good she looks than her performance which is only just alittle more animated than Latimer while also having the advantage of playing a cave girl so she doesn’t have to emote much.

It should be noted that anyone expecting some papier-mâché / stop motion dinosaur fun will find themselves sadly disappointed as the budget here clearly only stretched to one leopard and a stuffed rhino on casters which is essentially wheeled in the general direction of the cast.  The real action coming at the finale as the recently liberated male slaves uprise and battle the devils in the very obvious soundstage jungle in a fight which it’s hard to actually tell if they are winning or not. Still we get a few creative kills including a girl fight which ends with one of them being pushed into a spit aswell as a fun goring by a rhino.

While this might not be the most painful of viewings it’s disposable at best and all the more surprising that it came from Hammer, even if they were essentially just cashing in on an accidental trend here this is no doubt the sort of film that the teenage me would have loved. Yes there are moments of fun randomness throughout its just you can find the same things elsewhere and no doubt done better.

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