A Land Before Time – One Million Years B.C. (1966)

Unbeknownst to many, Hammer Films was not a one trick pony. On occasion, Hammer did tend to make films that were not of the horror genre and One Million Years B.C. is a perfect example of that. Horror may have been where their bread was buttered, but the studio felt like they had a lot to offer and usually, these other films were just as good. Directed by Don Chaffey with special effects by the legendary Ray Harryhausen, the film was pure adventure and an escape for the viewer from start to finish. Some might decry that humans and dinosaurs never lived during the same time period, but the movie was never meant to be historically accurate, it was meant to be an excursion for the mind, a short passage of time where you could shut out the world and in that regard, the film was highly successful.

One Million Years B.C. 69Essentially, the film is a story of two brothers as the narrator will tell you, but it is of Tumak more so than Sakana. The story finds Tumak an outcast from the cave tribe after a number of events and it sees him make his way through perils to the tribe by the sea where Loana, played by Raquel Welch, falls in love with him. Tension arises though because Tumak is not used to the kindnesses which the tribe perpetuates and soon, the two tribes will come into conflict because of Tumak until they are finally unified due to a common cause.

There are a few things that really make this film stand out from others of its ilk, the first being the special effects and more specifically, the stop-motion used to bring the various dinosaurs to life by Ray Harryhausen. You can tell that the dinosaurs are fake, but the sculpting is done so well and for the most part, they fit seamlessly into the picture amidst whatever action is going on that you cannot help but be thoroughly delighted seeing them wreak havoc on the very real humans. Though you get a few laughs during a couple of scenes, one being the giant iguana, there are instances where you feel really bad for the creatures when they are slain and you hear them gasping out their last few breaths. One Million Years B.C. 67You know that these prehistoric monsters do not actually exist, but when you watch the film your imagination comes into play and thus, clay dinosaurs or not, you cannot help but feel a twinge of sympathy.

The photography, or cinematography, was also quite good with the barren expanses, craggy mountains and shots of a serene ocean all on display. It gave the movie a real prehistoric feel, a land untouched by man, still pristine and still beautiful. It made Tumak feel small, like a grain of sand in a desert when he first makes his way out into the world and it gave the viewer a sense of danger, for how could one man on his own survive in such a large and unforgiving place, no matter how appealing it may look to the eye?

Though Tumak as played by John Richardson was front and center for much of the film, it was Raquel Welch who drew your eye, a woman for whom the term screen goddess was invented. You had to watch her even more so, as well as the rest of the cast due to the fact that nobody spoke English and most of what was said was through body language. As it was, you understood what everyone was saying or trying to say and it never felt contrived or forced. Most people will more than likely tune in for Welch as she is the draw here, but should you give the film a chance, you will most likely be pleasantly surprised with all that it has to offer. It may not be a horror film, but One Million Years B.C. turned out to be a wonderful bit of fantasy and adventure from the age of reptiles courtesy of Hammer Studios.

3.5 out of 5

2015 Edition

First EntryTrapped in the… – Valley of the Dragons (1961)
Second EntryCan You Feel the… – Tremors (1990)
Third EntryBeauty and Danger Collide in… – Viking Women and the Sea Serpent (1957)
Fourth EntryDance the Night Away in the… – Village of the Giants (1965)
Fifth EntryIt Was a Time… – When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970)
Sixth EntryDo Not Fall Into the Grasp of… – The Giant Claw (1957)
Seventh EntryWho Knew They Could Give Birth? – Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996)
Eighth EntrySo Many to Choose From – The Loves of Hercules (1960)
Ninth EntryShould Have Stayed Down Below – Up From the Depths (1979)
Tenth EntrySnakes On a Boat! – Anaconda (1997)
Eleventh EntryThink Twice Before You Cheat – Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)
Twelfth EntryBack to the Trough – Tremors 3: Back to Perfection (2001)
Thirteenth EntryPast and Present Collide in… – Mega Shark Versus Mecha Shark (2014)
Fourteenth EntryMating Season – Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004)

Last Year’s Creatures…

Giant Monster Gamera (1965)
The Monolith Monsters (1957)
Gamera vs. Barugon (1966)
Tarantula (1955)
Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967)
Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)
Gamera vs. Viras (1968)
The Cyclops (1957)
Gamera vs. Guiron (1969)
Monsters (2010)
Gamera vs. Jiger (1970)
The Killer Shrews (1959)
Gamera vs. Zigra (1971)
The Deadly Mantis (1957)
Space Monster Gamera (1980)
King Dinosaur (1955)
Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)
The Black Scorpion (1957)
Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996)
Them! (1954)
Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris (1999)
The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
Gamera the Brave (2006)
Frankenstein Conquers the World (1966)

6 replies »

  1. I love this movie and did a review of the iconic poster (which I think you read already). Glad to read that you mostly like it. Welch was the draw, but there’s some fun dinosaur special effects as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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