One Million Years B.C.
This is the way it was.
Year of Release: 1966
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 91 minutes (1:31)
Director: Don Chaffey
Raquel Welch ... Loana
John Richardson ... Tumak
Percy Herbert ... Sakana
Robert Brown ... Akhoba
Martine Beswick ... Nupondi
Jean Wladon ... Ahot
Lisa Thomas ... Sura
Malya Nappi ... Tohana
In this vivid view of prehistoric life, a man from the mean-spirited Rock People is banished from his home, but soon finds himself living among the kind, gentle Shell People. There, he falls in love with one of their tribeswomen. The two decide to strike out on their own, living by their wits in a deadly land of treacherous beasts and unknown dangers - all leading to a thrilling climax by the edge of an angry volcano.
One Million Years B.C., remindin' us that if you can't muster the courage to tell the woman you love what she means to ya, you're doomed to sit around the cave all day waxin' your spear.
And speakin' of bein' trapped inside with do-it-yourself projects, everybody's been pretty jazzed all week for the grand reopenin' of the Gutter Bowl, and much as I hate to give Chuck Maxwell an ounce of credit for anything, I gotta admit, requirin' proof of a COVID shot to get in increased the county's inoculation rate by 43% accordin' to the health department. It's amazin' how many people're willin' to risk Bill Gates discoverin' the location of their secret fishin' hole if it means missin' out on chili that causes incurable acid reflux and the opportunity to hold a pair of bowlin' balls below your groin to demonstrate your indomitable masculinity to the world. Course, after you've seen a guy stomp around singin' the chorus of AC/DC's Big Balls until they inevitably slip and crack their skull on the ball return a few times it kinda loses its charm - that's why I usually watch the women bowl.
And sure, there're people out there, cynical people, who claim I only do this to observe their form, but that's mainly just Richard Fawner and he's just jealous that his fishnet stalkins don't turn curious, self-loathing heads the way they used to. Matter of fact, me and Billy Hilliard normally hang out in the arcade till one of the ladies gets a few too many Pole Cats in 'er and starts trash-talkin', 'cause once this happens it invariably leads to some kinda wager that results in cruel and/or demeaning consequences for the loser(s), and I gotta say - these gals can get pretty creative.
I missed some of the early proceedins in last night's installment of Gutter Talk 'cause I was playin' R.C. Pro-Am at the time and tryna hold off that Yellow sumbitch after puttin' one too many rockets up his exhaust pipe and triggerin' Sore Loser Mode (you prolly know what I'm talkin' about, but if not, that's when the asshole just takes off at warp speed and there's nothin' you can do if he manages to get past ya).
Anyway, by the time Billy'd explained what was goin' on, Trixie Willager (of the Ball Busters) was goin' nose to clavicle with B.J. Wilder (the captain of the Alley Cats) and so I hadda join the broadspat already in progress.
"Bitch, your skinny ass's been buffed more'n lanes 1-10 put together," B.J. declared.
"Don't knock it till you've tried it, you fuckin' nun. Maybe if you didn't have them big ole bumper thighs somethin'd find its way into yer gutter," Trixie suggested.
"Watch it, skank. I'll put you on your back quicker'n a trucker with a $10 bill," B.J. snarled.
"Trixie Willager, please report to the burn ward," Roxanne Bigelow howled from the next lane over.
"You wanna make this interesting, Twatter Pop?" Trixie challenged.
"It'd be the first time you were interesting for more than three minutes at a time. What'd you have in mind?" B.J. asked, more than a little pleased that she'd ended the taunting portion of the ritual so quickly.
Trixie thought for a moment until eventually a grin identical to that of the Grinch once he'd formulated a plot to steal Christmas, spread across her face.
"Loser stuffs a beer 'tween 'er tits and makes Otis Turlinger drink it," Trixie smirked.
Now, not to lend credence to Trixie's assessment of B.J.'s relationship history, but B.J. is a bit gunshy these days due to a lifetime of datin' creeps. So when Trixie issued the challenge it caught 'er off guard and gave 'er a moment of pause - but only a moment.
"Doesn't seem fair," B.J. responded indifferently.
"Why? 'Cause yer chickenshit?" Trixie accused.
"No. It's just that you couldn't hold a drinking straw between those things, let alone a bottle of beer," B.J. smiled sweetly.
Once we got the two of 'em separated the two teams were prepared to square off in heated, spandex-clad combat. I missed mosta the fourth frame 'cause I hadda spend that one catchin' Billy up on what'd happened durin' the first three frames while he was curled up in a ball under the pool table recuperatin' from a wild elbow he took right square in the gondolas, but the match eventually came down to the final frame, with the Alley Cats down 9 pins and B.J. Wilder set to throw.
"I'm on your side Trix, really, but how *are* you gonna hold that beer if she rolls a strike here?" Bambi Mastrude asked as B.J. lined up 'er approach.
Course by that point Trixie was so P.O.'d that she instinctively smacked Bambi hard as she could on the thigh, creatin' a horrible reverberatin' echo that bounced off every wall in the buildin' and threw B.J. off just enough to leave the 7&10 pins stranded on the boards.
"You thufid cuh--" Billy hollered in Trixie's direction before I managed to cover his mouth.
"Dude, chill out. There're ladies... (I look over and notice Bambi flop 'er entire right boob out to get at an itch on the underside) okay, so maybe not ladies exactly, but that ain't cool, man," I chided.
"Just flatten that 7 pin and take it to sudden death B.J. You got this," I tried reassurin' 'er.
"The hell with that. I'm takin' Syphilis Diller out right now," she replied without ever turnin' around, intent on pickin' up the spare regardless of the difficulty involved.
It was the bravest thing I'd seen since Edgar Mastrude proposed marriage to Bambi on the very same spot three years ago to the day, and unfortunately, ended just as badly when B.J. failed to put enough backspin on the ball and dropped it into the gutter just inches before it could nudge the 7 pin. But, always gracious in defeat, B.J. went up to the bar, bought a bottle of Pole Cat, and ambushed Otis when he leaned over to restock the cigarette machine.
Honestly, it was probably the best thing to happen to both of 'em in a heckuva long time, 'cause Otis hasn't had the guts to ask out a woman since Mystie Forsythe rejected 'im in high school, and B.J., great gal as she is, has the romantic intuition of a male praying mantis. The moment all the beer'd slopped outta the bottle B.J. broke into hysterical laughter, and Otis was so stunned that he unconsciously joined in to reduce the chance she murdered 'im on the spot if she'd gone off the deep end as he suspected.
I saw 'em at the Grime Time later that night in Otis' Fiat Spider checkin' out Evil Brain from Outer Space, and it was just about the cutest thing you've ever seen the way Otis carried 'er overfilled Dr. Pepper so it wouldn't spill and ruin 'er chartreuse Spanx leggings. I dunno what it is about the smell of rental shoes and onion rings, but when you put the two together the Gutter Bowl somehow becomes the most romantic place in Chickawalka County, outside Walleye's Topless Dancin' & Bait Shop.
I prolly woulda just reviewed Evil Brain from Outer Space, but after watchin' the Spandex Valets undulate in their bowlin' uniforms all night I really needed a reminder that there're still a few women out there who don't rattle the scorekeeper's table when they belch, so me and Billy gunned it on outta there and headed back to the house to check out One Million Years B.C. even though we've seen it more times than the inside of our eyelids. The thing I admire most about it is how realistic it is, 'cause think about it - wouldn't *you* fight a Tyrannosaurus Rex with a pointy stick for Raquel Welch? That's just smart writing right there. It's not like, say, Deathstalker, where Conan the Blondhairian fights his way through a horde of greasy cutthroats and Moblin bodybuilders from Legend of Zelda to get Barbi Benton when he *already* has Lana Clarkson. I'm gettin' off the subject here, but when you come across a flick as down to earth as One Million Years B.C. the facts of prehistoric life come at ya pretty fast, so I've taken the liberty of pickin' out a few timeless tidbits to help you conduct yourself with the proper etiquette in the event that you find yourself doin' community service in the company of dinosaurs at the Senior Center. First, takin' your new chick home to meet your folks can be a little awkward when your wife lives there. Second, when both the cavebabes *and* the dinosaurs're willin' to fight to the death for a piece of ya, you're pretty much a shoo-in at the Mr. Mesozoic competition. And third, always yield the right-of-way to the dinosaur, lest you become triceratoppings on a road pizza.
The movie begins with home videos of somebody's colonoscopy exam and a buncha eruptin' volcanoes like we're bein' prepped for a Pepto Bismol commercial, until eventually the sun rises over Pangea and a voice tells us about how in its day the world was so harsh that everybody had to pull themselves up by their kudzu 'cause nobody could afford bootstraps. Once the heavy diarrhetic symbolism subsides, we see this dude who looks like he just crawled outta the dumpster behind Furry Mountain Stuffing (Tumak) haulin' butt through the desert with a wild pig hot on his hinder until he leads the pig into a tiger trap and starts howlin' like he accidentally kicked a chunka cactus up into his breechcloth. Then the resta the tribe comes pourin' down outta the hills so they can grunt about how lucky the pig is that Tumak got to it first until the chief (Tumak's Pop, Akhoba) grants Tumak the honor of divin' into the swine pit to wrestle the pig to the death like a Hee Haw skit that went dangerously off-script. Everybody's about ready to head back to the cave, only this old coot falls into the pit and the tribe unanimously decides to leave 'im behind 'cause they're tired of listenin' to 'im tell 'em what's wrong with their generation. Once they make it back to the Brawnson Cave they start roastin' the boar, but when the bulk of the intestinal parasites've been cooked out of it a brawl breaks out over who gets the sowbelly till the place looks like a tailgate party at Razorback Stadium. Then Tumak gets so P.O.'d at Pops for stealin' his haunch that he takes a swing at 'im with his club and Akhoba ends up puntin' 'im off the balcony and declarin' Tumak's brother (Sakana) his new #1 Son like he's Charlie Chan or somethin'. Fortunately, Tumak's fall is broken by a patch of poison sumac, and he decides he's tired of havin' to get permission to borrow the keys to Dad's wildebeest anyhow, only he immediately runs into a 30' Iguanchadon that starts eyein' like 'im a bucket of throw-be-back ribs and chases 'im into a tastefully decorated grotto that seems like it'd make an excellent bachelor pad except that there's already a Homo Neanderphallus livin' there and he don't want the neighbors gettin' the wrong idea about 'im. So Tumak keeps on truckin' and dodgin' brontosauri that're late for their shifts at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company and things're goin' alright except it's about 147 degrees in the shade and every time he stops he risks fryin' his huevos on the rocks until finally he's so haggard that he passes out in the dunes lookin' like Torgo from Manos: The Hands of Fate.
When he wakes up he's within gruntin' distance of the ocean, and as luck would have it there're about a half-dozen troglodykes down on the beach diggin' for clams wearin' the remains of four skinned cottontails between 'em. Unfortunately, before Tumak can party with the cavebabes from La Brea University, Spamera pokes his giant sea turtle head up over the hill and threatens to smoosh our man main into Tumak & cheese while the lead clam shucker (Raquel Welch) calls 'er army of makeup men with a conch shell and gets 'em to fight the turtle so she can shade Tumak with 'er mammoth mammaries and create Homo Erectus. Elsewhere, Akhoba's out on a hunt tryin' to prove that he's still the top trog even though he's 30lbs overweight and hasta get up to pee six times a night, 'cept when he tries climbin' up this rockface after a goat he loses his grip. 'Cept when Sakana finds 'im he starts thinkin' back to all those times when he was a kid and dear ole Dad would bash 'im over the skull with a mastodon femur for trackin' tar into the house and decides to stomp Akhoba's primary draggin' knuckle and attempt Australopatricide. While that's goin' on, Raquel's showin' Tumak around her hippy commune and at first he's leery of all the general cooperation 'cause the whole deal smacks of Communism, but eventually he gets on board after bein' introduced to the spearfisherwomen in the wet, buckskin bikinis known affectionately as The Deadliest Snatch. Only as soon as Tumak starts gettin' comfortable with the idea of consensual relationships, a T-Rex shows up lookin' for manburgers and wench thighs and Tumak hasta round up some guys to run interference so he can plunge his spear into the beast's gutbucket and take all the credit for savin' the tribe. Course now we got dissension amongst the rank 'cause one of the 18 guys in the tribe who looks exactly like Jesus (Ahot) is supposed to be runnin' the show here, and when he finds Tumak tryna stash some of his top-secret spear technology they hafta settle their differences Saturday Night's Main Event style until the tribe sees what's goin' on and exiles Tumak for bein' just a tad too wild for their kingdom. Raquel decides she's gonna take 'er chances with Tumak and inadvertently creates the incel movement in the process, but after havin' been kicked outta two clans in as many days Tumak decides society can kiss his hairy hominid hinder and the two of 'em go house-huntin' in the suburbs of Bedrock.
Tumak figures he can take the ape-man who lives in the grotto now that he's carryin' the Shell People's top-secret projectile prototype, only when he and Raquel head inside there're a dozen bonobozos inside and they hafta climb the White Tree of Gondor and sneak out through the skylight before they get pelted with primate poo. Then they start a fight between a Triceratops and an Allosaurus and it finally seems like Raquel's noticin' how wherever Tumak goes drama follows, so when she gets the chance she heads for the hills while Tumak's trapped behind a cave-in watchin' the ceratopsian gore Gorgo through the gonads. Unfortunately, Tumak's original tribe's hangin' out on a nearby ridge gamblin' on the outcome of the reptile rumble, and next thing you know Sakana and his Bro-Magnons grab 'er and start goin' after Raquel's raque. Tumak is P.O.'d, and after bashin' three or four Geico sales reps he spears Sakama through the spleen and is just about to finish 'im off but Raquel won't let 'im 'cause in a world with an average life expectancy of 28 a woman needs to have options. Then everybody heads back to Tumak's original pad and his first wife (Nupondi) is royally hacked off about the cave wreckin' bimbo he's brought home, and pretty quick we've got a prehistoric version of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" video with Raquel wieldin' a gazelle horn and Nupondi swingin' a torch. Raquel ultimately triumphs and the tribe shows its loyalty by passin' 'er a boulder and encouragin' 'er to mush Nupondi's face into a prehistoric Picasso paintin' till Tumak steps between 'em and manages to broker some kinda Cro-Mormon peace treaty. This probably wasn't what the Flintstones had in mind with that whole "modern stone-age family" thing, but it sounds pretty good to me. In any event, these people really need to lighten up, so Raquel goes down to the pond and teaches 'em how to frolic and everybody's havin' a real nice time even though they kinda look like hobos fightin' for quarters in a water fountain. 'Cept then this terrordactyl kidnaps Raquel and tries feedin' 'er to its babies and ends up droppin' 'er into the ocean when it under compensates for the weight of 'er upper half and she hasta stumble home to the Shell People so she can get an escort back to the land of the Rock People and help Tumak ascend to the bone throne. Think I'm gonna cut this one off here, but it's worth pointin' out that, even though it ain't really clear *how* she knows - Raquel knows Sakana's about to pull some Cain and Abel level treachery, so believe me when I tell ya - you don't wanna miss the conclusion.
Alrighty, well, Hammer finally left their comfort zone and thank cripes for that, 'cause the success of One Million Years B.C. brought with it a fresh wave of stop-motion dinosaur flicks that kept the subgenre goin' after some of the less-than-stellar offerings of the '50s threatened to torpedo it. Titles like The Beast of Hollow Mountain may have been fine when there was no better alternative, but it's flicks like One Million Years B.C., and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth that really reinvigorated the public's interest, and arguably proved that the student, Ray Harryhausen, had eclipsed his mentor, Willis O'Brien, as the master of stop-motion animation. By this point, Hammer had already proven itself to be the greatest remake factory in the history of film, and while you could argue that few of their titles were original, One Million Years B.C. was a flick where they kinda stuck their necks out a little more than they were used to doing with all the old Universal properties. After all, the original One Million B.C. didn't have anywhere near the name recognition that Dracula or Frankenstein had; nonetheless, Hammer saw an opportunity and ran with it, and the result was probably the most successful dinosaur film ever made in the years prior to Jurassic Park. It's often regarded as a low-budget flick, but at the time it was Hammer's most expensive film to date, and with the exception of a couple additional stop-motion sequences that went unfilmed due to time and financial constraints, it really doesn't come across as a low-budget picture to an audience that's acquainted with truly low-budget films. It made a star of Raquel Welch, became a staple of late-night TV for the next 30 years, served as a reliable babysitter for stressed-out moms across the world, and led to numerous imitators throughout the '60s and '70s, culminating in the silliest, but perhaps most entertaining flick of all in 1981 - Caveman, starring the immortal Ringo Starr. Yes, the effects are dated. Yes, the film has absolutely no dialogue. And yes, it's essentially a "day in the life of" movie with no plot where the protagonist is relentlessly battered by the hazards of everyday life with no build-up to some grand conclusion - but it's concise, entertaining, and never overstays its welcome, and for that reason it has a timeless quality that transcends modern notions of what a movie should be. And if that doesn't sell ya on it, just be aware that there're two very compelling reasons why Raquel Welch graced the cover of over 100 magazines in 1966, and they're not overhyped.
Anyhow, it's time to separate the iguanas from the iguanodons and investigate whether the finished product is greater than the sum of Raquel's parts. The plot is basically Tumak's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and a Half. Life comes at him like a truck with a severed brake line and he tries like hell to keep from endin' up roadkill on the side of the highway - that's it. The only real problem I have with it is the fact that it takes Tumak nearly a day of hoofin' it through the desert to find the Shell People, and by the end of the flick, Raquel's able to rally her people to save Tumak's hinder in the span of about 15 minutes. Other than that it's your basic "stuff happens" movie, and since the stuff happens to be dinosaur battlin', it's pretty decent. The acting comes down entirely to body language on account of all the verbal communication consisting of unintelligible gibberish, but the primary cast is able to do quite a bit with nothing more than facial expression and body movements. It probably goes without saying that all the actors portraying man's oldest ancestors happen to be oddly light in skin pigment, but I can't imagine there're too many people out there who were able to get past man and dinosaur living side by side and still object to a cast dominated by Anglo-Saxons.
Here's who matters and why (less Raquel Welch, who's nothin' short of the most famous Stone Age starlet in the history of the world): John Richardson (War of the Planets, Black Sunday, The Church, Murder Syndrome, Battle of the Stars, Eyeball, Torso, Frankenstein '80, The Vengeance of She, She 1965), Percy Herbert (Doomwatch, Island of the Burning Damned, Quatermass 2, The Atomic Man), Robert Brown (Warlords of the Deep, Demons of the Mind, The Masque of the Red Death 1964, The Abominable Snowman), Martine Beswick (Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde, Cowgirls vs. Pterodactyls, House of the Gorgon, Night of the Scarecrow, Critters 4, Trancers II, Evil Spirits, From a Whisper to a Scream, Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell, Strange New World, Seizure, Prehistoric Women 1967), William Lyon Brown (The Vengeance of She), Frank Hayden (Creatures the World Forgot, The Lost Continent 1968, Prehistoric Women 1967), Terence Maidmont (Children of the Damned), Yvonne Horner (Prehistoric Women 1967), David Kossoff (The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, Nineteen Eighty-Four 1956), James Payne (Dragonslayer, Lifeforce, The Hunger, An American Werewolf in London, The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1982, Old Dracula, No Blade of Grass, Quatermass and the Pit), Vic Perrin (The UFO Incident, Gargoyles), Dido Plumb (Hands of the Ripper, Cry of the Banshee, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Dorian Gray, The Fearless Vampire Hunters, Prehistoric Women 1967, Eye of the Devil, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll), Nikki Van der Zyl (Scars of Dracula, Frankenstein Created Woman, Prehistoric Women 1967, She 1965).
The mainstream credits are as follows: Percy Herbert (Grogan in The Bridge on the River Kwai), Robert Brown (M in four James Bond movies, Bert Harker on The Newcomers), Martine Beswick (Paula in Thunderball, Zora in From Russia with Love), David Kossoff (Doctor Alfred Kokintz in The Mouse that Roared, and The Mouse on the Moon, Alf Larkins on The Larkins).
The special effects, in a highly contested duel with Raquel Welch's bra, are why we're all here, and they're some of the best of Ray Harryhausen's career. The stop-motion includes a giant sea turtle, a brontosaurus, an Allosaurus, a Triceratops, a Ceratosaurus (which as far as I can tell is a T-Rex with a giant pimple on its nose) and a coupla Pterosaurs, and they're all pretty good, as stop-motion goes. We've also got a live-action iguana and tarantula blown up and composited into the early sequences, and while some people contend this was due to budgetary constraints, it was may have been done as an homage to the original One Million B.C., which heavily utilized iguanas to represent its dinosaurs. To round things out there are also about a dozen ape-men and a wild boar, and while these are the least convincing of the lot, there aren't any effects in the movie that come across as dated by the standards of 1966. Basically, you should know by now what you're getting into with a Ray Harryhausen movie, and you're either okay with that or you're not. That said, his creations here are top-notch by the standards of the time, even if things get a little shaky when stop-motion humans are added to the mix.
The shooting locations are excellent, with the exterior scenes being filmed in the Canary Islands of Spain. Not exactly what we've become accustomed to, as most dinosaur films had been set in jungles since the days of The Lost World in 1925, but One Million Years B.C. makes a point of telling us early on how harsh life was in those days and follows up with a lot of inhospitable terrain to reinforce the voice-over. It also uses geography to draw distinction between the two tribes, with the group living in the harsher conditions being more war-like, and the tribe inhabiting the coastal region having had a chance to develop its intellectual side a bit more. The cave interiors are excellent as well, and given how little time is actually spent inside them this is the place where you'd expect the production values to dip if they were going to, yet they don't, and this speaks strongly to the skill of the set designers. The soundtrack is split into two distinct types of tracks, the first of which is an amusing, self aggrandizing style that makes you feel like the flick should be taking place in the Roman Colosseum. These pieces, despite being a little cheesy, do kinda make sense on the basis that we're seeing man's earliest origins, and that these are momentous events for man as a species - even though from our perspective it's just a guy in a loincloth who's managed to outwit a wild pig. It's sorta like what they tried to do with the soundtrack in 2001: A Space Odyssey, only it worked in that movie. The other tracks are more what you'd expect, and feature a lot of sounds created from non-instruments, like bones, rocks, and sticks striking each other. These tracks are more typical and cliched, but atmospherically consistent with the events of the film and generally strike the correct tone. Hammer must have liked it, as they rehired the composer, Mario Nascimbene, to work on The Mummy, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, and Creatures the World Forgot, before the company eventually folded in 1979. Overall, One Million Years B.C. has good production values for the time and holds up well thanks to its abundance of charming special effects. And although I think The Valley of Gwangi is a little more fun, One Million Years B.C. is better built, and the obvious jumping-off point for anyone interested in getting into the subgenre. Great for a lazy Sunday afternoon; check it out.