Thursday, 25 August 2011

Creatures The World Forgot

To Ege Their Own

Creatures The World Forgot UK 1971
Directed by Don Chaffey
Warner Archives Edition Region 1

Well this is a film I never thought I’d be reviewing.

Creatures The World Forgot is the fourth and last in the cycle of BC movies that Hammer released in the 60s and 70s, the previous three being One Million Years BC, Slave Girls (aka Prehistoric Women) and When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth. I’ve seen the first two entries in this cycle and, to be honest, I wasn’t really into them much... but I’ve been wanting to see this one for a while now because... oh heck, alright, I might as well come clean. I’ve been wanting to see this one ever since I saw Hammer’s publicity stills for the movie which featured a topless shot of one of the lead actresses (model Julie Ege) posing with a spear.

What can I say? I like Julie Ege and the proposition of seeing her running around the prehistoric flora and fauna sans clothing proved too much for me to resist... so I ordered one of those expensive Warner Archive DVDR editions from the US (via my "source" DVD dealer) just so I could see said spectacle while it’s still in print. As it turned out, after I watched it, the publicity shots from this movie featuring the delightful Miss Ege were, perhaps, a little bit too enthusiastic with their portrayal of the actual content of the film in question. That is to say, they flat out lied, as Miss Ege is wearing what can only be described as a “shaggy bra” to run around the prehistoric landscape with. This didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the movie too much, however. It could have been worse... she might not have appeared in it at all! As it was she turns up about two thirds of the way through which, in all fairness, is more screen time than she gets in most movies I’ve seen her in.

The movie is pretty much a silent movie... well not so much silent as there are certainly plenty of grunt and groans and “Hrwarhhh”s in it... and it does have an orchestral score. What I mean to say is... the film, like a couple of its predecessors, has no dialogue in it. I can’t say I’m complaining too much about that as things could have got a lot worse, a lot quicker in this movie if there’d been an actual dialogue script encumbering the actors. As it is, the film plays out in a fairly interesting and competent manner... telling the usual story for these kinds of movies, with various tribal leaders fighting both each other with their trusting spear wielding clans of cavemen... and amongst themselves as new people vie for leadership in their tribe. The tribes are fairly clearly marked through three generations of characters to make things easier in this particular prehistoric movie, just like teams on a football team. You have the dark haired cavemen who are a mixed bunch, mixing good guys and bad guys and a lust for blind violence if untempered by their new allies in another tribe, who consist of bearded, blonde, blue eyed cavemen and who posess a greater intelligence and who are clearly the good guys. A fairly good working alliance forged between the two tribes gets broken when the chief and father of twins, a black haired and blond haired boy, dies and it’s up to the two new candidates to bash it out amongst themselves.

The blond guy wins but then makes a philosophical evolutionary leap in his morality by refusing to kill his brother and not getting into any more violence. He splits off from the tribe (taking half of them with him) but his new babe Julie Ege keeps attracting other cavemen whom he has to ward off with his rugged masculinity and demonstrative grunting. Things get bad when his brother and his half a tribe catches up with him but his brother is captured by... um... a tribe of grey mud covered people with giant grey head masks that want to do some unspeakably horrendous killing of people in a style that predates 70s American slasher movies and so the two tribes temporarily reunite to vanquish this new menace. Then the fighting recommences with the kidnapping of Julie Ege by dark haired brother who puts her into what can only be described as a stone-age bondage scene... which is nothing compared to the heavily censored tree branch BDSM scene carried out in a ritualistic stone age dance party scene by the tribal medicine woman. There’s lots of interesting things going on in this movie including a younger new medicine woman born as lightening hits a tree who genuinely has a telepathic link with other members in the tribe... but lots of little threads and deviations like this are just not picked up and run with the way they might be in a longer or bigger budgeted movie. To be fair though, remember, there’s absolutely no dialogue in this movie so to get across as much of a “story” as they did is a good accomplishment from the writers, directors and performers etc.

Mario (The Vikings) Nascimbene’s score is a nice, percussion dominated orchestral score which acquits itself quite nicely with the visuals and it’s hard to factor in some of the derogatory little anecdotes of his incompetence I read about him in the book Hammer Film Scores and the Musical Avant Garde (reviewed here) a couple of months ago. It’s a score I wouldn’t mind owning if somebody would put it out on CD but, alas, I fear the days of Hammer music CDs are long gone now... they just don’t seem to sell as well as they should.

The one thing which puzzled me in a film with the title Creatures The World Forgot is the lack of creatures in it. True, there are two porcupines in a scene and there’s also a scene where a bear attacks a man... but there’s really not enough screen time to count these as the “creatures” of the title, surely? And besides, the so called bear is actually a man dressed in a quite laughable bear suit which the cameras have tried to disguise with angles and lighting as much as possible but which really doesn’t help to hide the fact that the bear suit is truly a less than lacklustre example of the “bear costume maker’s” art. So the title of the movie might better be Creatures The Writers Forgot To Put In The Movie on this one methinks. Or perhaps the title refers to Julie Ege and a few of the other “cave gals” that populate this hairy, stone-age, love and wrestle fest.

One thing I am certain of is that the direction on this one certainly felt a lot more competent than in the first two Hammer entries in this genre and it was altogether a lot more fun too. Definitely worth checking out if you’re into this kind of thing but would suggest the expensively priced Warner Archives DVD-R Edition is something you might want to have a good hard think about first.

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