Thousands, even millions, of years ago, and mankind was in a primitive state, as seen by the tribe that Sanna (Victoria Vetri) belongs to with their superstitious ways. Tonight they are performing their sacrifice to the gods, and three women have marked themselves out as candidates for death by dint of their blonde hair. As the tension builds with the tribespeople gathered around, one of the victims cannot take the stress any longer and makes a break for freedom, but as she is caught a huge storm descends and throws them into chaos. Now is Sanna's chance to escape...
One Million Years B.C. was a substantial hit for Hammer Films, and its iconic image of Raquel Welch in her fur bikini had adorned many a bedroom wall in poster form. The other selling point had been Ray Harryhausen's stop motion effects that brought the creatures to life, but he was not available for When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, which the follow up was named, so Jim Danforth was brought in. Also not returning was Welch, so an alternative was brought to the table: former Playboy Playmate of the Year Vetri, who was guaranteed to look her best in that cavegirl attire.
There's an interesting name in the credits, as renowned British science fiction author J.G. Ballard was given the job of coming up with the treatment, and he went on to say that he was proud that his first film should be the worst ever made. But Ballard was being modest, for this is fairly engaging stuff, even if it cannot make up its mind whether it's supposed to be for adults or children. Sure there are the dinosaurs, and cavemen fighting the dinosaurs, and a subplot involving a mummy dinosaur that adopts Sanna, but then again there was the potent sex appeal of Vetri in skimpy clothes, and in the European version she even featured in nude scenes.
Sanna does get away from the would-be sacrificers, only to end up with another tribe who are suspicious of her; all except Tara (Robin Hawdon - I suppose Tara wasn't a girl's name back then), a hunky cavechap who takes a shine to the new arrival. However, Ayak (Imogen Hassall) is jealous and does her best to get the rest of them to gang up on Sanna, which results in our heroine making a break for it. But Tara does not forget her, and goes a-searching while she ventures out alone, almost getting eaten by a large, carnivorous plant for her trouble.
Then there's the lizards, which include some actual lizards made up, which always feel like a cheat when there are stop-motion creatures in the rest of the film. Danforth conjures up some impressive beasts, and if they're not quite as flavourful as the Harryhausen efforts they're still the highlight of the flim, Vetri apart. Sanna's love story ends up almost displaced by the adoption plot, where after she wakes up in a large eggshell a mother dino thinks that she's her offspring and Sanna gets to frolic with a baby dino in endearingly ridiculous sequences. She also displays a talent for fishing, at one point diving into a pool and surfacing with a fish in her teeth. When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth is utterly unhistorical, with the Moon being formed at the same time as the dinosaurs who share the planet with humans, but as a fantasy goes it's amusing enough for a film where you have no idea what the actors are saying for the whole time. Music by Mario Nascimbene.