Continuing my quest to watch every weird-ass movie in the Los Angeles Library catalog.
One Million Years B.C. (1966)
Cavemen run around clubbing and spearing each other when they’re not clubbing and spearing dinosaurs, or ogling bikini-clad cavechicks, including a pneumatic Raquel Welch.
This is one of those films you read about in science fiction film books that are labeled a “classic.” Well, I’m calling bullshit here and now. This is a very bad movie. And a dull one. (We’re only looking at its merits as a sci-fi-action-adventure movie, not its scientific credibility.)
There’s a voice over narrator at the beginning, but he leaves after a few mostly unnecessary words, of the “life is harsh here” variety (gee, we'd never have known that just by watching the movie), and never crops up again. We’re dealing with cavepeople, so that means a limited vocabulary and some gesturing, but usually a lot of staring. (Gesturing and staring - shit, it's a bunch of mimes!) Quest for Fire this is not. At times it seemed like I was watching the prehistoric man scenes in Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part 1 or Ringo Starr’s Caveman (remember that movie, boys and girls?).
The story involves Tumak, the son of leader Ahkoba, getting kicked out of the Hill People tribe after fighting with his padre over a leg bone or some-such. Tumak is played by John Richardson, who makes a respectable caveman, but his father (Robert Brown, later M in the 70s and 80s Bond movies) looks like a cross between Sean Connery and Avery Schreiber. Mostly Avery Schreiber. In his exhile Tumak runs into, or rather tumbles down a hill into, the Shell People, all blond and tanned, fishing and swimming, selling tie-dyed tee shirts and waxing their surfboards (yes, Tumak stumbles onto Venice Beach).
There’s a lot of Tumak "walking the land scenes," which are breathtaking at first – they shot in the Canary Islands, located off the northwest coast of Africa – but after about the fourth trek or so across the wasteland it becomes extremely tedious (and the whole movie is only 90 minutes long). Still, nice of the production to pony up some bucks and shoot somewhere cool, rather than, say, VASQUEZ ROCKS, but then this isn't Korg: 70,000 BC now, is it?.
The visual effects are interesting. On the one hand, you get great Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animated dinosaurs including an allosaurus, a tyrannosaurus, a triceratops and a pteranadon. But on the other hand you also have a real live iguana, blown up optically to the size of a 747, traipsing about. Usually in dino-flicks it’s one or the other.
The music also annoyed me, being mostly a creepy religious-sounding chorus of voices that would have been more appropriate for a movie involving exorcism than a dinosaur romp.
Let’s be honest, the only real reason to watch this movie, aside from Harryhausen’s effects, is for Raquel Welch and her fur bikini. And boy, she still holds up, if you know what I’m saying, and I think you do. Her Loana is the hottest cave/beach chick around, with the biggest hair, the biggest smile and the biggest boo—well, you get the idea. She runs, swims, and fights in those little scraps of rabbit fur or whatever they were – how they stayed on through all that is a real special effects miracle.