And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


One Million Years B.C. (1966)
February 1, 1999, 3:17 pm
Filed under: Movies, Reviews | Tags: , , , ,

Well, its easy to make fun off. We can say that, certainly. What else is there to say about One Million Years B.C.? That “mockablity” does not a good movie make. Apart from some vintage Ray Harryhausen special effects, sure to please dinosaur and monster fans, this bland, mildly bitter little flick has absolutely nothing to recommend it. Except Raquel Welch’s breasts. If only they, and Harryhausen’s dinosaurs, had gotten more screen time. This movie might’ve been decent. Instead, they (the dinosaurs, not Welch’s breasts) pop up for no particular reason at all, distracting and interrupting my modest efforts to understand just what the hell is going on.

For some unforgivably stupid reason, screenwriters George Baker and Michael Carreras wrote an entire script in Cavemanese. If this film were a simple bit of exploitative nonsense (an excuse to star at Harryahusen’s T-rex and Raquel’s twin reginas) I’d say, okay: no harm, no foul. Just a pointless waste of movie. Unfortunatly, in a movie that is obviously driven by dialogue, its usually a good idea to have dialogue your audience can understand. Then again, films set in prehistoric worlds notorious for they’re stupid dialogue. Perhaps director Don Chaffey thought to avoid that Bert I. Gordon route,  having sat through the Notorious B.I.G.’s King Dinosaur, cringing all the way. More likely, love of Lon Chaney’s 1940 vehicle, One Million B.C., moved him (and his producers) beyond all rationality. After all, they decided to remake that piece of crap.

Whatever the reason, our plot is as murky as the bottom of the Atlantic after an oil spill.  One Million B.C., if I recall, at least had the decency to throw its audience a bone, framing the prehistorical tail with a modern-day, archeologist’s voice-over. No such luck here: we’re left to puzzle out the plot threads as we go. As near as I can tell, we open with a brunette cave-dweller, Tumak (John Richardson) who’s chased out of his tribe for…something or another. He finds another, more-peaceful tribe along the coast, where Raquel Welch nurses him back to health. This enrages Raquel’s pre-existing beau, who chases Tumak out again. But this time he takes the fur-bikini-clad girl with him, and returns home to his original tribe in triumph. Taking over, Tumak attempts to lead a war against Raquel’s former home tribe…but before the cavemen can finish whaling on each other, a volcano erupts, burying them all. The End.

And that’s it. Some plot, huh? Where to start? How about we start with Raquel. Don’t expect much from here. She walks through her part at a casual stroll, looking as if someone replaced her brain with a trained rat. It’s a performance that makes Alicia Silverstone’s turn in Batman and Robin seem lucid and animated. Unfortunatly, the only thing that made Ms. Silverstone’s acting bearable was the fact that I could laugh at her pancake-flat line delivery. Ms. Welch’s is similar, but I have no idea what the hell she’s saying. The result is a puzzled, angry feeling that threatens to overwhelm my feelings toward the film as a whole. No amount of prehistoric, animal-hide bikinis can take these splinters from my eyes and ears. Even if they do manage to lift and separate…somehow.

Oh, and did you know cave women developed their own water-proof mascara? Little known fact, right there.

Now, for the dinosaurs. I’ve always had a problem with movies that portray cavemen and dinosaurs living contemporaniously. Crazed Christians can believe what they like, but by age six I’d grown up enough to get over the sixty-five million year gab between us and the terrible lizards. What excuse did the screenwriters use? “Dinosaurs put butts in seats.”  To make matters worse, aside from one excellent stop motion T-rex (I mean, it looks like this thing’s in the frame. Beautiful work by Harryhausen. I could practically touch the damn thing. If you must see this movie, see it for its one T-rex vs. cavemen fight scene) most of the great reptiles are unrecognizable, misshapen creatures. In the worst of worse cases, echoing King Dinosaur, some of the “monsters” are obviously iguanas and crocodiles inserted into the movie through bad bluescreen composite shots.

Even if this were one of Harryhausen’s epic extravaganzas (with some ancient, mythological hero’s name in the title) One Million Years B.C. would still have been a horrible film. Good acting would have helped. Good writing would have helped more. As would the recognition that crap stories are crap stories, whether Lon Cheney originally starred in them or not. MST3k fans will get a good kick out of providing your own translations for our protagonist’s dialogue. Everyone else, skip this turkey, and the pre-historical sub-genre as a whole. Move along people; nothing to see here.

G

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[…] B.C. so desperately wants to join the ranks of films like One Million Years B.C. and Prehistoric Women it forgets why such movies sucked, committing many of the same mistakes. […]

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