Prehistoric Women (1967 film)

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Prehistoric Women
Prehistwomen.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Michael Carreras
Produced by Michael Carreras
Written by Michael Carreras
Starring Martine Beswick
Michael Latimer
Steven Berkoff
Music by Carlo Martelli
Cinematography Michael Reed
Production
  company
Hammer Film Productions
Seven Arts
Distributed by Warner-Pathé Distributors (UK)
20th Century Fox (US)
Release date(s) 7 July 1967 (UK)
25 January 1967 (US)
Running time 95 min.
Language English
Budget ₤140,000[1]

Prehistoric Women (originally released as Slave Girls in the UK) is a 1967 British Fantasy Adventure film. The film stars Martine Beswick as the main antagonist and stage actor Michael Latimer. Steven Berkoff features in a small role at the end.

Plot[edit]

David Marchant, a British explorer, along with Colonel Hammond and a guide are pursuing a leopard on an African safari. The Colonel takes aim but misses and only wounds the animal. With nightfall warned by the guide, David decides to follow the party back to camp whilst he puts the beast out of its misery.

Walking someway, he passes various trees with a picture of a white rhino but ignores them. Finally, he shoots the leopard, just as the weakened animal attacks him. No sooner is the creature dead, David is ambushed and captured by a primitive tribe. They accuse him of disturbing the spirit of the white rhinoceros, and take him to their leader's temple. As the high priest/leader makes his decision David notices a large, ancient stone statue of a white rhino and realizes this is what the tribe worship. Interested, David reaches out to touch it. Just as he is about to be killed for his trespassing and disturbing the spirits, David touches the statue and there is flash of lightning that opens a giant crack in the cave wall.

Wasting no time, Marchant makes his escape and finds himself in a lush paradise jungle within a large valley. Hearing a noise, a terrified fair-haired beauty (Edina Ronay) tumbles out of the bush-growth. David tries to help her but the woman bites him and runs off where she entered. Following her, David tackles her to the ground. But they are both attacked by dark-haired women. David is escorted with them to their village whilst the fair woman is bound and taken with them. As they reach the outskirts, David is astounded to discover another white rhino statue, only it looks less ancient and possibly even newer.

Entering into the settlement, David finds the fair-haired woman serve the dark haired woman, who they themselves are ruled over the beautiful Queen Kari (Beswick), who immediately takes interest in David an chooses him as her mate, but he is appalled by her cruelty and spurns her advances.

Angered, Kari orders her guards to throw David into a window-less cell. Getting to his senses, David finds the same woman he encountered earlier and introduces himself. She reveals her name to Saria. When asking if Saria's people have ever fought back, she replies that Kari is protected by the Devils; the guardians who shield the people from the "cruel world outside". In return, one of the blonde women must be taken as a thanksgiving for protection.

David is them moved to where the other men are, in a cave and now living in the fear of Kari. At a mealtime, an elder tells David of how it all began; Their ancestors moved into the area and hunted the white rhino until extinction. This done, they erected a false image to believe others that they still existed. In doing so, they offended their gods, and the legend of the white rhinoceros was born.

The elder goes on to say that they were sent a tribe of "dark people" who came to this land, seeking protection. They were described as less intelligent and were enslaved. The only protection Saria's people had was the lie that the white rhino protected them, until a slave girl escaped and told them of the lie. As a result, the men were enslaved and the slave girl was made their Queen: Kari. The tribe will only become bonded by spirit again when the false idol is destroyed.

As time passes a 'Devil' chooses who should be made the next bride of the white rhino. The chosen one is Saria. Learning of this, David urges the men to join forces with the blonde women and against the dark people. Escaping, the men disrupt the ceremony as the rhino-masked "Devil" who is about to take Saria. David jumps the "Devil" and unmasks him as an African man who then flees. David battles Kari, knocking her unconscious and then frees Saria. More rhino-masked "Devils" emerge from the jungle but the men and allied women pursue them, unaware they do not know the jungle as well as they do, despite David's protests.

A battle breaks out between the two tribes in the jungle. Kari meanwhile regains consciousness and grabbing a knife, determined to kill David, sets out through the battle. Suddenly there is an almighty roar and both tribes, to their horror, see a white rhinoceros. Despite Kari telling the tribes it is their god and they will not be harmed, the beast charges and impales the false idol, Kari, with its horn. The creature begins to drive out the "Devils" and disappears into the jungle.

Finding Kari's corpse, David takes a wooden brooch with a white rhino of it and offers it to Saria, who then refuses it saying that the "Devil's" won't be returning. She goes on to say that the legend is partly fulfilled and she heads over to the rhino statue whilst David follows, stuffing the brooch into his top pocket. David tells her that he won't leave her, despite Saria telling him that her world is not his.

Suddenly there is thunder and it begins to rain. David confesses his love for Saria but she moves away and tells David that her love for him will always remain. She leaves David alone in the rain, along with the statue of the white rhino. As if hypnotized, David moves forward and touches the rhino's horn as lightning strikes.

In an instant, Marchant is back in the high priest's temple just as they are about to proclaim judgment over him. Suddenly the rhino's statue begins to break and crumble to pieces. The priest joyfully announces that the legend of the white rhinoceros is true and that they are free at last. The priest then orders the destruction of the "false idol's temple" whilst David discreetly leaves and joins the guide who has been waiting for him.

As they both head back, David is surprised at how little time had passed for the guide. Once back at the camp, David wonders whether if it really was a dream or he had really traveled back in time to reunite a lost African tribe and end a million year-old legend. As he cleans himself, he discovers the white rhino's brooch in his pocket proving some truth in his experience. David is then asked to greet some people from London. To his amazement, one of the guests is the living image of Saria. The guest then introduces herself as Sarah.

With the brooch in hand, David shakes her hand, proving that it really did happen and Saria's love for him lasted throughout time.

Background[edit]

Hammer used nearly all the sets and costumes left over from the film One Million Years B.C. (1966), which had starred Raquel Welch and featured Martine Beswick. Further films by Hammer which traded heavily on the appeal of scantily clad cave girls were When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970) and Creatures the World Forgot (1971).[2]

Shooting took place from 10 January to 22 February 1966.[3]

Cast[edit]

Reviews[edit]

“…[Beswick] was cast as Queen Kari in the film Prehistoric Women, a sort of follow up to the successful One Million Years BC. As the seductive and deadly leader of a tribe of lost amazons, Beswick had one of the great roles of a lifetime. Unfortunately, the production was plagued by indifferent direction, a low budget, and the fact that it was following up a gargantuan worldwide box office hit …”[4]-- Film Fatales: Women in Espionage Films and Television, 1962-1973

"An eccentric and unloved Hammer film that uses a blondes vs. brunettes scenario."[1]-- The Hammer Vault

"Idiotic Hammer Film in which the Great White Hunter stumbles into a lost Amazon civilization where blondes have been enslaved by brunettes. Honest! Nevertheless it has developed a cult following due to Beswick’s commanding, sensual performance as the tribe’s leader."[5] -- Leonard Maltin's 2010 Movie Guide

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Marcus Hearn, The Hammer Vault, Titan Books, 2011 p.90
  2. ^ Sinclair McKay (2007): A Thing of Unspeakable Horror: The History of Hammer Films: 105
  3. ^ Bruce G. Hallenbeck, British Cult Cinema: Hammer Fantasy and Sci-Fi, Hemlock Books 2011 p165
  4. ^ Lisanti, Tom (2002) Film Fatales: Women in Espionage Films and Television, 1962-1973, Jefferson, N.C: McFarland and Company, page 61
  5. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2009) 2010 Movie Guide. New York: Signet Books, page 90.

External links[edit]