Eye For Film >> Movies >> Prehistoric Women (1967) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Deep in the world's most unconvincing jungle, David (Michael Latimer) makes his living guiding rich white men who want to hunt big cats. But like most traditional hunters, David respects his prey. When a leopard is wounded by not killed, he tracks it to finish it off, ignoring marks designed to warn him off the territory of a notoriously fierce tribe. Captured, he is taken to the Temple of the White Rhino to be executed, but fortunately for him a freak lightning storm - which may or may not be connected to an ancient prophecy - opens a portal to another dimension. On the other side he finds a tribe of beautiful women kept as slaves by, well, another tribe of beautiful women, just waiting for a big strong man to save them.
This isn't so much H Rider Haggard material as a comic book boys' own adventure caught in a moment of awkward intimacy with a Sixties pin-up magazine. It was made on a whim by Hammer Horror when they realised they had costumes left over from One Million Years BC. The script, which was originally written under a pseudonym, also seems to be comprised of leftovers from other films. On the plus side, it's delivered with gusto, not least by Martine Beswick as the tyrannical ruler of brunette tribe, who wants our hero for her own. Cue a seduction sequence that runs the gamut of soft porn cliches, from writhing on a bed to erotic dancing, from lounging around naked under furs to posing coyly in a bath (it's unclear where, in the jungle, they got the bubble mixture). Unfortunately for her, David is just the sort of honourable and unlikely chap who refuses to engage with that sort of thing, thereby enjoying all the titillation but keeping himself (and the viewer) pure. He's turned off by her cruelty, he says, but perhaps it's also because he has his eye on a sulky little blonde (Edina Ronay).
Beyond the amply-filled bikinis there's really not a lot to this one, but a few extra cliches - pseudo-marital sacrifice, forbidden idols and monstrous masks - are thrown in to keep the story going. There's a bit of light bondage, a particularly silly spot of girl-on-girl wrestling, and lots of scenes in which people get wet for no particular reason. There's also, briefly, an appearance by that Hammer staple, the crazy old man who imparts dire warnings. This time the warnings are philosophical - keeping people as slaves leads to trouble - but in a film whose ending celebrates the end of the unnatural reign of black people over white people and brunettes over blondes, it's hard to see what lessons have been learned. Still, this is too camp a film to offend, too shallow to be accused of having any kind of political meaning.
Part wet dream, part sentimental romance, Prehistoric Women harks back to simpler age when men were men and films were written in five minutes on the back of an envelope. Undoubtedly Hammer's worst moment, it just about manages to sneak into the so-bad-it's-good category but will sit there more comfortably if you can avoid watching it when sober.Reviewed on: 17 Jun 2012