From the DVD case: In this vivid view of prehistoric life, a man from the mean-spirited Rock People (John Richardson) is banished from his home, but soon finds himself living among the kind, gentle Shell People. There, he falls in love with one of their tribeswomen, played by bikini-clad Raquel Welch, in the role that made her a major star. The two decide to strike out on their own, living by their wits in a deadly land of treacherous beasts and unknown dangers – all leading to a thrilling climax by the edge of an angry volcano. With stunning primeval imagery created by pioneering special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen, One Million Years B.C. is a true science fiction classic. (1966, color)
Mark says: I can’t watch One Million Years B.C. without reminiscing about the first time I saw it televised. I was a school boy and I watched it at my house while my friend, Tony, saw it at his. The next day we got together to discuss the merits of the movie. All I could talk about were the dinosaurs, but all Tony could talk about was Raquel Welch!
Stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen (It Came from Beneath the Sea, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms) usually teamed with producer Charles M.Schneer, but here he freelances for Hammer Film Productions. The overall quality of the picture (story-wise) is inferior, but Harryhausen’s contributions hold up well.
We’re introduced to Harryhausen’s first creation when a Brontosaurus lumbers across the landscape. It’s a magnificent, though subtle, piece of work. We are treated to many other Harryhausen dinosaurs as the film progresses, including a giant sea turtle, a pair of Pterodactyls, and a Triceratops battling a Ceratosaurus.
The most show-stopping scene, though, involves a combination of live action and special effects as the cave people combat and kill an Allosaurus. This easily rates as one of Harryhausen’s most exciting sequences. To Harryhausen’s credit, the “acting” of his stop-motion dinosaurs often surpasses the acting of the humans.
Unfortunately, One Million Years B.C. occasionally relies on the old “photo-optically enlarged Iguana trick,” which is a shame considering they had Harryhausen at their disposal. This technique was probably used due to budget limitations, and Harryhausen may have been under considerable time constraints. A particularly perplexing scene involves a photo-optically enlarged spider and cricket. This short sequence is so cheap and out of place that it could have easily been removed from the film altogether.
This isn’t Raquel Welch’s screen debut, but it certainly burned her into the consciousness of the world’s male movie-watching population. Her “charms” are barely covered as she traverses bleak landscapes and battles various prehistoric beasts. For a cavewoman, she keeps her brows well plucked and has an uncanny knowledge of make-up. But considering this film’s enormous historical inaccuracies (the most blatant being that man and dinosaurs did not exist during the same era), Raquel’s make-up seems a minor detail.
John Richardson (Black Sunday) as Tumak is a rather dull hero, and we see more of his flesh than we care to. There is a particular scene where he surveys the landscape and a gentle breeze lifts his fur toga to reveal his buttocks. I could have done without that, but I suppose they needed to throw in something for the ladies.
One Million Years B.C. doesn’t feature any true dialog, just grunts and a few prehistoric nouns. This is one of the reasons it seems longer than it actually is. The story itself also lacks in pace, and the scenes without Raquel Welch or dinosaurs seem unbearably long.
I own the 91 minute American theatrical version of the film, which is 9 minutes shy of the original British version. One scene cut from the American adaptation is a segment where Martine Beswick (Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde) performs a mildly erotic dance. I remember seeing this sequence in trailers and always wondered why I never saw it in the film.
The American release does include the “cat fight” between Raquel and Martine, however, and I’ve been assured that no dinosaur footage has been removed.
One Million Years B.C. is directed by Don Chaffey (Jason and the Argonauts, Creatures the World Forgot).
Scene to watch for: Tumak (John Richardson) makes shish kabob of an Allosaurus.
Line to listen for: “This is a story of long, long ago, when the world was just beginning.”
FYI: This is a remake of 1940’s One Million B.C. starring Lon Chaney, Jr.
Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! out of 5.