This is a story hailing from the dawn of mankind, where humans were the highest form of life - but only just, due to his cunning setting him above the other animals. After being banished from the Rock tribe because of a dispute with his brother, caveman Tumak (John Richardson) wandered the wilderness until he was found by the Shell tribe. Would he settle down with cavegirl Loana (Raquel Welch), or would the danger of this prehistoric world keep them apart?
Producer Michael Carreras scripted this Hammer remake of Hal Roach's One Million B.C. You know that famous 1960s poster of Raquel Welch striking a heroic pose while dressed in an animal skin bikini? This film, of course, is where that image comes from. In fact, those who remember Raquel tend to forget that this is also a Ray Harryhausen special effects showcase, too, a definite nod towards the work of his mentor Willis O'Brien, especially The Lost World and his unrealised pet project Creation.
Accuracy was not this film's forte, so you get unhistorical scenes of cavemen fighting Harryhausen's splendid dinosaurs, but then, the same thing could be found in O'Brien's work. Stop motion effects included a triceratops fighting a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a pteranodon which battles pterosaur for the body of Raquel (to eat, that is) and a Tyrannosaurus Rex-type thing pitted against those Shell people. The first dinosaur you see is a disappointment because it's just a magnified lizard, as in the Roach original, but don't worry, there is a gigantic turtle on the way.
The two tribes are colour-coded for viewer convenience, with the dark-haired Rock tribe savage, untrustworthy much given to in-fighting and in need of an anger management course. On the other hand, the blonde Shell tribe are more civilised hunters who paint their caves, hold dinner parties and enjoy a joke. The theme is learning and by extension, evolution, where the sophisticated Shell people, who live by the sea, teach Tumak the benefits of diplomacy, having a sense of humour, swimming and other such improving traits, while he teaches them the benefits of killing a marauding dinosaur. But mainly this learning goes one way.
We are never allowed to forger their prehistoric world is a grim one and they're never ten minutes away from certain death at the hands of a fellow caveperson or the jaws of a giant monster - not to mention the volcano that interrupts the ending. One Million Years B.C. was probably the best caveman movie, which isn't saying much, but this was more fun than Clan of the Cave Bear. See also: the suspiciously similar When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. Watch for: Raquel and Martine Beswick having a catfight - Beswicke is unsung in this, looking just as good in her bikini as Raquel does, although she didn't get her own bestselling poster. Special mention should also go to the distinctive music, heavy on the choirs and rattling sticks, by Mario Nascimbene.
British director best known for directing fantasy favourites Jason and the Argonauts and One Million Years B.C, both of which featured groundbreaking Ray Harryhausen effects. Chaffey also directed Hammer’s Viking Queen, but much of his work was in television, both in the UK (The Prisoner, Man In a Suitcase) and, later, the US (Charlie’s Angels, CHiPs, Airwolf). Also made kids’ favourites Greyfriars Bobby and Pete's Dragon for Disney.