Teenage Caveman (1958 film)
Theatrical release poster
by Reynold Brown
|Directed by||Roger Corman|
|Produced by||Roger Corman|
|Written by||R. Wright Campbell|
|Music by||Albert Glasser|
|Edited by||Irene Morra|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
Teenage Caveman (a.k.a. Out of the Darkness in the UK) is an independently made 1958 black-and-white science fiction adventure film drama, produced and directed by Roger Corman, and starring Robert Vaughn and Darah Marshall. Teenage Caveman was released by American International Pictures in July 1958 as a double feature with How to Make a Monster.
The film was originally shot as Prehistoric World, and some 8x10 publicity stills retained the original title; AIP later changed it. Years later, Corman stated in an interview, "I never directed a film called Teenage Caveman". Lead actor Vaughn stated in an interview that he considered Teenage Caveman to be the worst film ever made. It was later featured on the mocking television series Mystery Science Theater 3000.
A tribe of primitive humans lives in a barren, rocky wasteland and struggle for survival, despite a lush, plant-filled land on the other side of a nearby river. They refuse to cross the river because of a law that evolved from an ancient tale warning of a god lurking there who brings death with a single touch.
A young man of the tribe challenges the law and is eventually followed by other male members of his tribe, who fearfully cross the river in order to bring him back. They soon encounter the terrible god, a large, horribly burned but strangely human-like creature. Despite the young man's peace overture to the god, another tribal member, out of fear, lays a trap and stones the creature to death with a large rock; the young man then shoots and kills that tribesman with one of his arrows. The others gather around the now dead god and discover that the creature is actually a much older man with long white hair. He is wearing some kind of strange, unknown outer garment with a fearful hood. They find another strange thing in the old man's possession; they are puzzled by this flat, thick object that opens and contains mysterious markings and vivid black, white, and gray images that show an even stranger human world unknown to them.
In a surprising denouement provided by the ancient man after his death, the truth is revealed in voice-over as the tribesmen page through his book: He was actually a survivor of a long-ago nuclear holocaust, forced to live for decades inside his now ragged, discolored, and bulky radiation suit (which is implied to have once been covered with deadly radioactive fallout). The ancient man has wandered the land for decades while the primitive remnants of a devastated human race have slowly increased their numbers; his frightening outer appearance caused them to fear and shun him.
A final, cautionary question is asked in voice-over by the old man: Will humanity someday repeat its nuclear folly after civilization has once again risen to its former heights?
Corman thought the film to be pretty good, but felt it could have been "genuinely good" had he had more time and more money. Variety found the film to be a good exploitation item aimed at the teen market. The Hollywood Reporter disliked the film, and cited the film's low budget as a reason. Monthly Film Bulletin said the film tried hard but was ultimately unsuccessful.
- Robert Vaughn as Symbol Maker's Teenage Son
- Darah Marshall as Blonde Maiden
- Leslie Bradley as Symbol Maker
- Frank De Kova as Black-Bearded One
- Charles Thompson as Tribe Member
- June Jocelyn as Symbol Maker's Wife
- Jonathan Haze as Curly-Haired Boy
- Beach Dickerson as Fair-Haired Boy / Man from Burning Plains / Tom Tom Player / Bear
- Ed Nelson as Blonde Tribe Member
- Robert Shayne as Fire Maker
- Marshall Bradford as Tribe Member
- Joseph H. Hamilton as Tribe Member
The film was released on DVD by Lionsgate Home Entertainment on April 18, 2006, as part of a two-disc set, with The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent on the first disc.
Mystery Science Theater 3000
Teenage Caveman was featured in episode 315 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, along with the shorts Aquatic Wizards and Catching Trouble. The episode debuted November 9, 1991, on Comedy Central. MST3K writer Mary Jo Pehl struggled "to find a positive thing to say about Teenage Caveman", in which Vaughn appeared to play "a thirty-something teenage caveman", and called Corman "a horrible director ... [who] wasn't trying to make good films, just films that came in under budget".
- Survival film, about the film genre, with a list of related films
- "Teenage Cave Man". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved November 13, 2016.
- Trivia for "Trivia: 'Teenage Cave Man' (1958)." Internet Movie Database. Retrieved: July 7, 2015.
- Frank, Alan (2000) The Films of Roger Corman. Batsford.
- Frank 1998, p. 67.
- Warren, Bill (1982). Keep Watching The Skies Vol II: 1958–1962. New York City: McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0899501703.
- "Viking Women and the Sea Serpent/Teenage Caveman (Double Feature)". Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Santa Monica, California: Lionsgate. April 18, 2006. ASIN B000EHSVJ6. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
- Episode guide: 315- Teenage Caveman (with shorts: ‘Aquatic Wizards’ and ‘Catching Trouble’). Satellite News. Retrieved on 2018-07-09.
- Beaulieu, Trace; et al. (1996). The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide (1st ed.). New York: Bantam Books. p. 13. ISBN 9780553377835.
- MST3K: Volume XXXV Shout! Factory. Retrieved on 2018-07-07.
- Frank, Alan G. (1998). The Films of Roger Corman: 'Shooting My Way Out of Trouble'. London: B. T. Batsford. p. 67. ISBN 978-0713482720.