The plains and jungles of Africa are where game warden David (Michael Latimer) makes his living, and as darkness falls across the land he has just been acting as guide to an English hunter on safari who really wanted to shoot a leopard for its hide. It doesn’t go too well, and David sends the bungler home while he sets off into the bush to put the injured animal out of its misery, but he only gets so far before his local companions warn him for encroaching on a dangerous tribe’s territory, as indicated by the icon of the white rhino they see on a tree. Undeterred, he ploughs ahead into the foliage, but just as he finds the leopard he is accosted by tribesmen who demand to sacrifice him to their white rhino god!
But we don’t stick with the first tribe, we go on to a different one and the reason for that was Hammer’s lack of profits. They had enjoyed a big hit with One Million Years B.C., a Raquel Welch versus the Ray Harryhausen dinosaurs epic, but it had been a costly enterprise and to make some of that cash back they conjured up this very minor work using the same costumes, sets and by the looks of it, wigs. What use did they put them to? It was a throwback to those genre movies of the nineteen-fifties where a hapless bloke or blokes would find a planet populated by attractive women, or a lost world on Earth where a tribe of ladies ruled, and what do you know, this was the scenario for Prehistoric Women.
But this wasn’t an H. Rider Haggard set up where the tribe were living in a forgotten land in the present day, for David with one touch of the ceremonial rhino horn during a thunderstorm is transported back to an earlier era, the prehistoric era as the title suggests, where he stumbles upon a very stagey-looking set of circumstances – no location shooting for this little item. Probably just as well in the typical British climate, for the females dress in animal skin bikinis and Dave cannot believe his luck, or so you would think from a movie of the sixties but here he is more caught up in releasing the oppressed from the yoke of their masters, or mistresses as director, producer and screenwriter Michael Carreras pitted the blondes against the brunettes.
David being a brunet would be more likely to be on the side of the leader, Kari, played by that famed dark-haired beauty, the rather splendid Martine Beswick, but it didn’t play out that way as he fell for one of the blondes, Saria (Edina Ronay, daughter of restaurant expert Egon Ronay and a future fashion designer). Since it was yellow against black, with the dark ones to be overthrown, we were also courting the cliché that the blondes were the goodies when the brunettes were made to be baddies, a curiously prevalent misrepresentation that occurred in fantasies such as this, especially curious here when Kari was by far the most interesting character as Beswick chose to have a bit of fun with her role.
Everyone else was performing with the utmost gravitas, as if camp hadn’t struck them as how most would regard Prehistoric Women for decades to come, leaving Beswick to carry the obvious ludicrousness with some aplomb. Sadly, you never felt as if you were getting enough of her – always leave ‘em wanting more, were evidently her methods here – as the rest of it was filled out with some rather embarrassed-seeming British thesps dolefully going through the motions, whether that be complaining about the food or participating in near-endless dance sequences to pad out what was already a shoddy effort. Even the rhino god that gets so much attention in the script was notably immobile until the grand finale when they attached it to castors and it hurtled around the set, though according to the characters it was only that heavily symbolic horn that anyone cared about anyway. At least it had a happy ending after a fashion, but a few chuckles would be the most you’d get out of these endeavours. Music by Carlo Martelli.