One Million Years B.C. (1966)
“Travel back through time and space to the edge of man’s beginnings… discover a savage world whose only law was lust!”
Director: Don Chaffey
Cast: Raquel Welch, John Richardson, Percy Herbert
Synopsis: Caveman Tumak is banished from his savage tribe. He finds a brief home among a group of gentle seacoast dwelling cave people until he is banished from them as well.
One Million Years B.C. is one of those movies that holds a place in the hearts of men of a certain age. We came to it as small boys, enthralled by Ray Harryheusen’s dinosaurs, but on repeated viewings — and this movie was shown a lot on TV, even in the days when there were only three channels showing a total of about fifteen movies each week — we came to appreciate more the luscious Raquel Welch running around in the manufactured shadows of those make-believe monsters, her ample bosom heaving within the confines of her fur bikini. It’s an outfit that’s achieved almost iconic status, and there were few women who could fill it out in quite the way that Ms Welch could…
The storyline of One Million Years B.C., which was loudly trumpeted as the Hammer Studio’s 100th release, is little more than an afterthought. John Richardson plays Tumak, one of two sons of a prehistoric tribal leader. The other son is played by that dependable English character actor Percy Herbert, and these two siblings are engaged in some kind of competition to win the favour of their brutal father who strictly adheres to the ‘survival of the fittest’ philosophy. Therefore, an old man who accidentally breaks his leg when he falls into a pit is left for the vultures without a backward glance. Tumac displeases his old man somehow, and after falling over a cliff edge during a fight with him, decides to head off on his own with a dismissive grunt in the general direction of his tribe’s caves.
Venturing into the wilderness proves to be a risky decision, however, especially as the land is roamed by giant lizards and terrapins. Yeah — terrapins: can’t help thinking someone maybe volunteered their pet when ideas were thin on the ground for that one. Anyway, after trekking through the desert trying not to become dinosaur, lizard or terrapin food, an exhausted Tumak reaches the coast, where he’s discovered by Loana (Welch) and her gentle and enlightened tribe of blonde-haired peaceniks. While Tumak recuperates under the care of Loana and her tribe, and learns a more gentle way of life, his brother inherits his father position as tribal leader by treading on his old man’s fingers when he’s hanging from the edge of a cliff, setting up a tense confrontation when Tumak decides to return home to show off his new girlfriend, Loana.
One Million Years B.C’s big selling points weren’t just Raquel Welch’s boobs — if you watch the trailer you’ll see that the special effects are given even more prominence, and although they look pretty clunky today, it’s the SFX that make movies like this so much fun to revisit. Well, that and Miss Welch’s, you know — don’t want to keep going on about it — them — but I’m sure they were responsible for getting quite a few bums on seats back in 1966. I digress. Shot by British director Don Chaffey, who also directed the classic Jason and the Argonauts, One Million Years B.C. is a remake of Hal Roach’s 1939 movie One Million B.C., and it benefits greatly from location shooting in Lanzarote; the volcanic landscape really looks like a prehistoric terrain. Given that the dialogue consists of around a dozen made-up words or names and that there is hardly any plot to speak of, it’s quite astounding that One Million Years B.C. has four screenwriters attached to it. But then, the lack of dialogue is perhaps a blessing seeing as the acting is poor enough without words and would, presumably be even worse had those involved actually been given anything meaningful to say. Raquel Welch even fails to roll down a small sand dune convincingly.
(Reviewed 2nd August 2012)