Prehistoric Women

Tagged: Film

1. US film (1950). Alliance Productions, Inc. Produced by Albert J Cohen. Directed by Gregg C Tallas. Written by Tallas, and Sam X Abarbanel. Cast includes Judy Landon, Laurette Luez, Mara Lynn, Allan Nixon and Joan Shawlee. Narrator: David Vaile. 74 minutes. Colour.

Amazon princess Tigri (Luez) and her Stone Age friends have driven all males away some time prior to the start of this Prehistoric SF film; but, being practical, they capture enough to serve the purposes of reproduction as far as necessity dictates. One of the recently obtained males, Engor (Nixon), proves more intelligent than his comrades, and escapes, battling a huge humanoid while he is on the loose. Recaptured shortly, Engor impresses Tigri by using fire to drive away a dragon-like Dinosaur; the film concludes with prospects of better relations between the Amazons, and the general male population.

This low-budget exploitation film may have been influenced by the US version of One Million B.C. (1940; vt Man and his Mate), but is decidedly inferior. Though mildly unusual for Cinema in showing the women as more advanced than the men (see Women in SF) and in being shot in colour – a rare thing for any genre film of the period – the film is poorly made and ultimately of minimal interest. [GSt]

2. Film (1967; vt Slave Girls UK). Seven Arts Productions/Hammer Films Productions (UK); 20th Century Fox (US). Produced and directed by Michael Carreras. Written by Carreras (credited as Henry Younger). Special effects by George Blackwell. Cast includes Martine Beswick, Michael Latimer and Edina Ronay. 90 minutes, cut to 74 minutes. Colour.

Somewhere in British colonial Africa in the early twentieth century, explorer David Marchand (Latimer) is leading a big-game hunting expedition. When a leopard is only wounded, he sends the rest back while going on to find and finish off the animal, not wishing it to suffer an agonizing death. He accomplishes this, but is captured by a primitive tribe who plan to sacrifice him to the white rhino god whose spirit his actions have supposedly disturbed. Touching the rhino statue's horn, he is sent backwards in time by a lightning-flash (see Timeslip). Wandering about awhile, he encounters lovely blonde cave woman Saria (Ronay) trying to escape her home valley; a group of brunette Amazon women take both of them prisoner. The valley, surrounded by mountains, is ruled by an Amazon society of brunette women who have enslaved blonde-haired women (apparently no women with plain brown or red hair exist here). The men are imprisoned within a mountain caverns which is a natural dungeon; how this situation arose is left unexplained. Queen Kari (Beswick), ruler of this Lost World, is a cruel, vicious woman who wants Marchand for herself; he, however, has fallen for Saria. He is repulsed by Kari's incredible heartlessness despite her continuing seduction attempts. Finally agreeing to be her subservient companion, though only in hope of easing her cruelty, Marchand is told by Kari that the blondes once ruled over brunettes with similar tyranny; given her character, the truth of this claim is doubtful. Saria very stupidly exposes the Marchand's deception, and the furious Kari consigns him to the men's dungeon, where he is clapped in irons. But Marchand soon plots revolt, leading the males in a violent uprising during which the women's legend of the White Rhino God appears to come true when the creature appears. Kari, a firm believer in the beast, bows to it only to be gored to death. Saria explains to Marchand that her world is not his; he is left alone with the rhino statue he first encountered and, touching its horn again, is returned to his own time in another lightning-flash; the fate of the warring prehistoric factions remains unclear. Making his way to the local village, Marchand meets a young blonde woman (Ronay) who looks exactly like Saria – presumably a Reincarnation – and the film concludes with strong intimations of romance.

Reportedly made in part to recoup the costs of One Million B.C. (1966), and also probably to re-use its sets and fur bikinis, this rather silly exploitation film is perhaps the nadir of Prehistoric SF in the Cinema. While surprisingly mild despite the blatant sexual undertones – it would not be given even a PG13 US rating today – the film is often edited for television, especially its fight scenes (also some of the dancing sequences). Restored prints have reportedly been issued on home video. Primarily of interest for fans of the alluring Beswick, who gives the only decent performance. It may have been influenced by the 1950 US film Prehistoric Women (1 above), but is little better than that very modest effort. [GSt]

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