“ Genre: War & Western - War / Theatrical Release: 1967 / Director: Don Chaffey / Actors: Raquel Welch, John Richardson ... / DVD released 09 March, 2004 at 20th Century Fox / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Colour, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC „
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This Hammer studio feature film from 1966 is probably now best remembered for Raquel Welch's furry bikini and some rather dodgy historical accuracy but at the time it was one Hammer's biggest box office hit and still remains their biggest ever commercial success. Was it all down to a Neolithic bikini!?
WHEN THE WORLD WAS JUST BEGINNING...
When 'One Million Years BC' was first proposed it was meant to cash in on the huge success of another earlier historical epic Hammer 1965 epic 'She', originally it was intended to re-unite the stars of that earlier film Ursula Andress and John Richardson but when Andress decided against doing the film the role went to former weather girl and recent starlet of sci-fi adventure 'Fantastic Voyage' Raquel Welch. This was a wise choice, it made the voluptuous Miss Welch into one of the 1960's best know sex symbols and launched her acting career worldwide and netted hammer a huge amount of money and critical praise.
The concept of the story was not original in fact the plot is almost identical to Hal Roach produced 1940's epic also originally called 'One Million Years BC' aka 'Man and His Mate' starring Victor mature and Carole Landis.
Tumak son of headman Akhoba is exiled from his savage dark haired Rock tribe and his mate Nupondi is claimed by his brother Sakana. He wanders the prehistoric landscape finally coming upon the ocean where he meets the beautiful blonde haired Loana of the more civilised Shell clan. Tumak finds a home among the shell people for a while but his eventually banished after offending their leader Ahot. Tumak and Loana now take the dangerous journey back to the Rock tribe where Tumak must fight to regain leadership of his people.
Glorious Technicolor a Hammer trademark is used to excellent effect. The costumes and makeup are a little ropy at times. The Rock tribe men are very hairy but the women all look has if they've been doing regular waxing! The difference between the two tribes are emphasised through the film. Rock tribe the more primitive of the tow are shown not caring for weak; when an old man falls into a trap and his left is broken he is simply left to die. They are shown fighting over the food, the strongest getting the largest share the weak and the young getting left with scraps, maybe an unintentional parable for the evils of capitalism!
The Shell clan is totally different they look more like a group of young Swedes on a beach holiday. They are more caring and sharing. They look after their old and infirm they even do some cave painting in their spare time! Of course they don't each chunks of meat but prefer fish soup, better for the brain cells. Prehistoric hippies if I you ask me! They actually risk their lives to save Tumak from an overgrown Turtle even though he is not of their clan.
A SAVAGE WORLD WHO'S ONLY LAW WAS LUST!
We don't actually see the lovely Raquel Welch until about half an hour into the film but it is worth waiting for. Her furry bikini (actually looks more like leather with fur trims) has become iconic in film history and her perfectly tanned body fits it rather well. The main competition to Welch in the glamour stakes comes from Martine Beswicke as Nupondi the dark haired beauty of the Rock tribe. Beswicke a former Bond girl was to become a Hammer regular with future roles in Prehistoric Women (1967) and the cult classic Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971). The sight of Beswicke and Welch wrestling in one of the later scenes of the film is still one of highlight of my film viewing formative years!
Richardson had starred with Ursula Andress in 'She' but in my opinion this is Richardson's best role, his usual wooden delivery of dialogue replaced by some very realistic caveman grunting! Martine Beswicke is not the only James Bond connection in this film. Robert Brown who plays Akhoba the leader of the Rock tribe with great gusto was also later in his film career to appear in the role of M in the last of the Roger Moore Bond films and both of the Timothy Dalton Bond films.
One other notable performance comes from Percy Herbert as Sakana Tumak's evil brother. Herbert will be a well known face to most fans of British films and TV having features in countless movies and TV series in the 1960's through to the 1980's many will remember him from outing in some of the Carry on films. The film was quite unusual in that there is effectively no dialogue apart from grunted names. Like a throwback to the silent movies facial expressions are the order of the day and you feel like the cast revelled in this.
The first thing to say about this film is that it's not meant to be a historically accurate account of prehistoric times. On his travels Tumak is seen battling against a variety of prehistoric monsters including dinosaurs, when we of course know this would be impossible since dinosaur became extinct 64 million years before the film is set and before mankind had ever evolved. So we have to make allowances for these inaccuracies and simply view the film as an exotic adventure story.
Hammer in deal with distributors 20th century Fox studios spent a lot of time and money on this project. Right from the literally explosive start when we see a volcano erupting onto the screen we can tell that some amount of money was spent on this project. The film includes some very impressive location shot on the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. The naturally dry volcanic interior of the island is perfect to reproduce the prehistoric desert lands featured in the film.
A HARD UNFRIENDLY WORLD
The special effects for the film were produced by the legendary stop motion animator Ray Harryhausen. It has to said that by today's standards the special effect fall short of the 'Walking with Dinosaurs' CGI standards but nonetheless for its time this film is quite impressive and still have a lot of charm. Harryhausen's stop motion effect give a reality to the dinosaur's movements that is very impressive and the fight between the Triceratops and Ceratosaur still stands out. Harryhausen was a master of his trade and his early stop motion animation influenced later filmmakers like Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park. Another stand out scene is Tumak's fight with an Allosaurus and it is still among the best things Harryhausen has done. Giant Iguanas, giant tarantulas, giant turtles and dinosaurs what more do you want form a prehistoric romp.
The music in the film is used to great effect and complements the nature of the story; it's composed by Mario Nascimbene an Italian very much in the Ennio Morricone mould using lots of strange percussion and chorus. It is very effective and very atmospheric.
The film carried a certificate of 15 on release but the DVD is now PG. The monsters probably aren't that scary to modern youngsters but there is one scene which is particularly dark and tense features Tumak and Loana hiding in an eerie cave which is home to Ape-like creatures further back in the evolutionary scale to even the primitive cavemen. They pass through the cave which is full of human skulls that are hung all around. These creatures are violent killers and Tumak and Loana needs to get out quick before they return, which of course they do at that very moment. We never see the creatures properly only as shadows or from far away but we hear their terrifying grunts. I remember being quite scared of this part of the film when I watched as a kid. The music is once again used to great effect in this scene. Apart from a little mild gore and a few bloodied faces there is little here to worry about.
The plot is very slight and doesn't really get in the way much of the action. Director Don Chaffey also responsible from the classic 'Jason and the Argonauts' and the not so classic 'The Viking Queen' keeps thing moving along at a reasonable pace and doesn't let the actor get too much in the way of the real stars of the film the prehistoric monsters!
Much of the criticism for this film comes from those who object to the factual and historical inaccuracies of the film, they for me are missing the point. This is supposed to be unadulterated mindless entertainment and there's nothing wrong with that. We all know that there weren't cavemen around when Dinosaurs walked the Earth but we've all wondered what it would have been like to come face to face with a dinosaur well this is what this film is all about stop thinking and just enjoy!
CAST & CREW & THINGS
Raquel Welch ...Loana
John Richardson ...Tumak
Directed by Don Chaffey, screenplay by Michael Carreras adapted from original screenplay by
Mickell Novack, George Baker and Joseph Frickert.
Runtime: 100 min
DVD AND EXTRAS
This DVD release is the uncut version of the film in anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality on the DVD was good and both the soundtrack and the colours were crisp and vibrant.
Unusually for a Hammer DVD release this had a few extras. A couple of interviews were included as part of the package
Interview with Raquel Welch - 'Raquel Welch in the valley of the dinosaurs', a short feature around 8 minutes long in which Raquel Welch talks of how she came to take the role and how it changed her whole career and life. It transpires that she actually had no choice in starring in the film, she didn't want to but she was under contract to Fox and so she had to do it. Although short this is quite an interesting insight into the making of the film.
Interview with Ray Harryhausen- This is the more interesting of the two interviews as it features one of the great of movie special effects Ray Harryhausen. In it he explains how his interest of dinosaurs came about and how he first came across stop motion when he watched the original King Kong movie and fell in love with the process. He explains how stop motion works using one of the original dinosaur models from the film. At just over 12 minutes the interview is fascinating stuff and well worth watching.
These were the only bonus part to the package and they were worth watching to get some background and context to the film.
'One Million Years BC' can be bought from Amazon.co.uk for £3.99 with free delivery in the UK at the time of writing this review.
Recommended for Raquel Welch in 'that' bikini alone!
Continuing my trip through my Hammer Collection DVDs, I arrive at a 1966 film I remember watching on TV as a child in the 1970s and 1980s - One Million Years B.C. But how would it look these days, viewing it as a 40-year-old?
One Million Years B.C. is "the film with the dinosaurs" to those of us of a certain age - or maybe "Raquel Welch in a leather bikini" to our dads! The plot centres around Tumak, played by John Richardson who is heavily bearded here, totally unrecognisable from his cleanly-shaven appearance in another Hammer film She.
Tumak is a member of the Rock tribe, who are (as you might expect) primitive in every way. They hunt, live in groups, shelter in caves and speak in grunts and simple non-English words. (The only 'proper' English is in the voiceover at the start of the film.) They will also kill each other and literally fight over food, so not much family loyalty here then.
Tumak ends up leaving the Rock tribe and for a while is on his own, battling the terrors of his world - the climate, the dangerous rocks and the scary wildlife - dinosaurs, a giant tortoise, a giant lizard and, ermm, a giant tarantula. Oh, okay then. The spider did seem particularly out of place, but I probably just accepted it as a child.
He eventually encounters the Shell tribe, where he meets the stunningly beautiful Loana (Raquel Welch in her bikini). The story continues along the same themes - battling the natural perils and lots of in-fighting amongst the cave people. The dinosaurs are the most exciting part of the film watching it now - and certainly were back in my childhood.
The two parts of the film I recalled vividly were the young girl in the tree being threatened by the dinosaur (which I thought was a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but it was apparently an Allosaurus!) and the big fight between the Triceratops (always a childhood favourite of mine) and the Allosaurus. To be honest, these remain the highlight of the film.
Nowadays, One Million Years B.C. reminds me of those old Japanese Godzilla films I watched around 1989. It all looks very dated and even laughable at times. Of course, in 1966, these were state-of-the-art film techniques that utilised a mixture of stock footage interspersed with stop-motion animation. Ray Harryhausen was responsible for these effects in many other classic films until the 1980s.
There are some good things about the film besides the effects used. The movie was shot partly on location in the Canary Islands (Tenerife and Lanzarote), which provide a beautiful and realistic backdrop for primitive life. There are pretty girls in skimpy costumes too, if you like that sort of thing.
Overall though, I was disappointed in the film and it didn't live up to the memories I have of it. Obviously, films like Jurassic Park and documentaries such as Walking with Dinosaurs (both of which I love) have increased the expectations of today's audience and we expect our dinosaurs to be more high-tech now. But we should recognise the importance of this film in 1966.
Sadly, that doesn't save it from its faults. The dinosaur fights tend to be overlong and the tribe in-fighting bits are dull and repetitive. But it worked for me as a child, and I loved the exciting, adventure film I saw it as then. I'm probably harder to please these days.
This would be a good film for kids to watch on a Sunday afternoon, if modern day children can get past the old-fashioned monster effects - but it was great for its time, revolutionary and a real classic.
5 out of 10
Amazon UK is selling this on DVD for £3.98.
I own it as part of the Hammer Collection and this includes an eight-minute interview with Raquel Welch and a twelve-minute interview with Ray Harryhausen, where he shows the original dinosaur models used in the film, awww!
One Million Years B.C. is a 1966 film by Hammer Productions directed by Don Chaffey. The film is a daft but colourful and ambitious romp depicting the struggles of early cavemen types as they battle each other and various assorted dinosaurs and gigantic creatures which co-exist alongside humans here in ahistorical Flintstones fashion. "This is a story of long, long ago, when the world was just beginning," informs a narrator at the start of the film over rolling clouds and lava flows. Tumak (John Richardson) is a hunter with the violent Rock tribe but after a ruck with his chieftain father Akhoba (Robert Brown) he is exiled and wanders the sun-drenched lunar-like landscapes dodging anachronistic dinosaurs until he encounters a more peaceful and advanced group known as the Shell tribe living by the sea. Tumak becomes an accepted member of the tribe when he saves a little girl from an Allosaurus and also takes an understandable shine to Loana (Raquel Welch), a supermodel cavegirl with a fur-skin bikini and fake eyelashes. When he is cast out from the Shell tribe for trying to pilfer somebody's spear, Tumak takes Loana on a long trek back to his old tribe in an attempt to secure his birthright...
One of Hammer's most lavish and successful films and the first of several stone-age pictures they subsequently produced, One Million Years B.C. is utterly ridiculous at the best of times but rather fondly remembered primarily for Raquel Welch in her furry bikini and the legendary Ray Harryhausen's special effects and dinosaurs. The biggest strength of the film overall though is perhaps the extensive location work in the Canary Islands which supplies a vivid, desolate, volcanic backdrop for much of the action. We first meet the Rock tribe catching a warthog in a trap and then fighting over scraps of it in their cave. Anyone who becomes injured on the hunt or is too old to keep up with them is left for dead - the Rock tribe's social security system leaving a lot to be desired. There is no dialogue in One Million Years B.C. apart from rudimentary attempts by the Shell tribe with people grunting at each other or making hand signs instead (although the Shell tribe do have some annoying conch shell trumpets) which adds a veneer of realism to proceedings I suppose. Any claims to historical verisimilitude in One Million Years B.C. are probably punctured though when a slew of dinosaurs, a giant turtle and a very large spider indeed make guest appearances in the film. Harryhausen's stop-motion animation is a lot of fun although there are also shots of a real tarantula and iguana - that we are supposed to believe are both giant sized - which don't work quite so well. Somehow you readily suspend your disbelief more with an animated model. However you shoot a small lizard it essentially just looks like a small lizard.
Tumak's ejection from the Rock tribe is quite enjoyable and amusing, not least for the presence of none other than Robert Brown as the fiery Akhoba, Brown going on to play M in a couple of Timothy Dalton James Bond films. The usually urbane Brown makes a surprisingly convincing Neanderthal with make-up designed to mimic Lou Chaney Jr in the original 1940 Hal Roach version of the film. The Rock tribe would probably not be the ideal group of people to throw a dinner party as they tend to physically fight over the food on the floor, grunt at each other a lot and also force Nupondi (Martine Beswick) to dance in a provocative manner for their entertainment. Once ejected for threatening the authority of Akhoba, Tumak's trek across the surreal prehistoric landscape is strikingly shot and reminiscent of the atmosphere created in films like Planet of the Apes and Robinson Crusoe On Mars with Mario Nascimbene's superb music score a big plus too. He encounters a gigantic lizard and an Archelon - basically a giant turtle or to be pedantic archelon ischyros, a gigantic testudinate of the late Cretaceous. Tumak is aided by the members of the Shell tribe and they all attempt to shepard a turtle the size of a house into the sea with their spears. These moments are the film at its most enjoyable and despite the slightly rudimentary nature of the effects to modern eyes, Harryhausen's models and animations still have a considerable amount of charm and a real sense of wonder.
When the exhausted and parched Tumak first spots the bronzed women of the Shell tribe fishing in the sea with spears, Raquel Welch immediately makes a suitably iconic presence in her skimpy cavegirl outfit and isn't too far behind Jane Fonda in Barbarella and Ursula Andress in Dr No when it comes to the decade's female cinematic pop culture pin-ups. The Shell women look remarkably well groomed all things considering and resemble a stranded Beach Volleyball team more than an ancient Neanderthal tribe and their vaguely hippyish qualities and inclinations - they have cave art, accessories made from shells and all get along alarmingly happily - are in marked contrast to the grunting aggression of the Rock tribe where the roast warthog is fought over by everyone and you can forget all about pudding and the after dinner mints. Harryhausen's model animation has another enjoyable run out when a little girl is trapped in a tree and a snapping Allosaurus takes an interest until Tumak races to the rescue with a spear. Before the film is out we happily also get to see a Brontosaurus, a Triceratops, and some flying Pterodactyls. John Richardson, who fought it out with George Lazenby to be the new James Bond for On Her Majesty's Secret Service only a few years after this, is effective enough as Tumak although with no dialogue in the whole film and his presumably dashing and Bondian good looks largely buried underneath a huge beard and mop of unruly hair it's difficult to judge how he might have fared as the famous super spy.
On the whole One Million Years B.C. is incredibly silly but oddly compelling at times even without dialogue. The visual effects and Ray Harryhausen's wonderfully animated stop-motion dinosaurs are still hugely enjoyable and the location work - including Tenerife's unique endemic flora - is wonderful, creating a stark, hostile atmosphere for our loincloth wearing heroes to battle against. Raquel Welch as Loana the Fair One is obviously the greatest cavegirl in cinematic history and the music is great too. One Million Years B.C. is obviously not exactly 2001: A Space Odyssey but really not a film to be taken too seriously. If you can get past the quieter stretches and more ludicrous flourishes this is not bad for a few late night laughs. It's worth a look just for the dinosaurs alone.
I have huge admiration for Ray Harryhausen and his stop-motion special effects, after all, without his years of experimenting and perfecting the art, we wouldn't have Wallace and Gromit or Chicken run. But how he got involved with a film as dire as this, I cannot imagine! I suppose the sight of Raquel Welch in her famous fur bikini might have had something to do with it... The luscious Raquel is looking as lovely as ever, probably at her best, and it's hard to fault her acting, as she isn't required to do any, well, not in ther normal sense of the word. The dinosaur scenes were appealing when I was a child, but when my own daughters watched a little of this film recently (they couldn't be persuaded to watch it all), they found the dinosaurs quite ludicrous and demanded to see Jurassic Park instead. The only reason to recommend this film is for it's oddity value... It isn't even the sort of bad film that makes you laugh, you just wonder that it was ever made at all.
One Million Years B.C. might be about as palaeontologically accurate as The Flintstones, but it's still a lasting kitsch masterpiece, as much for Raquel Welchs Amazonian presence in an abbreviated fur bikini as for Ray Harryhausens wonderful stop-motion dinosaurs. A rare big-budget venture from Hammer Films, this 1966 version of the 1940 Victor Mature classic One Million B.C. is set in a fantasised prehistory where Caucasian cavemen coexist with dinosaurs. Loana (Welch) of the Shell People teaches Tumak (John Richardson) of the Rock Tribe that harmonious cooperation on the beach is a better way of life than rule-of-the-mightiest savagery in caves. Every quarter of an hour, the gibberish-spouting ("Akita akita"), skin-wearing, remarkably clean cave folk are inconvenienced by special effects: a giant sea turtle, a hungry Allosaur, a Triceratops/Iguanodon battle, a Pterodactyl that wants to feed Raquel to its chicks, a major volcanic upheaval. Poster icon Welch gets stiff competition from a lithe Martine Beswick in a cat fight, and the camp goings-on are given real screen presence by gorgeous, primitive Canary Isles locations and an epic score from Mario Nascimbene. On the DVD: One Million Years B.C. arrives on DVD with minimal extras: a wonderfully ballyhoo-intensive trailer, plus nice little retrospective chats with Welch and Harryhausen. The picture is an anamorphic print of the original 1.85:1 ratio, and sound is Dolby mono.--Kim Newman