UK / 1970 / Hammer
Director: Don Chaffey
Writer: Michael Carreras
Cast: Julie Ege, Brian O’Shaughnessy, Tony Bonner, Robert John, Marcia Fox, Rosalie Crutchley, Don Leonard, Beverley Blake, Doon Baide, Ken Hare, Sue Wilson, Derek Ward, Fred Swart, Josje Kiesouw, Hans Kiesouw, Gerard Bonthuys, Frank Hayden, Leo Payne
This fantastically silly Hammer production follows a tribe of Neanderthals struggling to survive prehistory and its myriad dangers – sudden seismic disasters, terrifying beasties, barbaric machismo and sibling rivalry.
Tony Bonner and Robert John play the grunting brothers grim, Toomak and Rool, locked in a power struggle to lead the troupe after their wise old leader, Mak (Brian O’Shaughnessy), is shuffled off this mortal coil by a crazed wildebeest. There’s also the fairer sex to fight over, and this being a Hammer film from the early ’70s, the producers make the most of their picture’s chronological placing to run rampant over contemporary society’s feminist awakening. Queen of the Stone Age is right here in the barely recognisable form of Julie Ege. Her character, Nala is dressed to impress in a revealing furry bra and loincloth combo, and when her menfolk aren’t fending off enemy marauders, she spends most of the time struggling to keep the horny brethren at bay.
The film was largely shot on location in the plains and rocky outcrops of Africa. Writer Michael Carreras (son of Hammer founder, Sir James) and production designer John Stoll, have attempted to garnish the drama with a sprinkling of archaeological/anthropological veritas . But if you’re looking for history lessons you’ll be disappointed. If, however, you view it as a curio from the Hammer shocker locker, you’ll have great fun. As Variety noted, it’s, “a bizarre and violent Stone Age horror film. Don Chaffey has directed with tongue-in-cheek gusto, and there is a succession of energetic, bloody battles, excellent special effects and a remarkably-planned earthquake sequence.”