WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH
(director/writer: Val Guest; screenwriter: story by J.G. Ballard; cinematographer: Dick Bush; editor: Peter Curran; music: Mario Nascimbene; cast: Victotia Vetri (Sanna), Robin Hawdon (Tara), Patrick Allen (Kingsor), Drewe Henley (Khaku), Sean Caffrey (Kane), Patrick Holt (Ammon), Imogen Hassall (Ayak), Magda Konopka (Ulido); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: G; producer: Aida Young; Warner Brothers; 1970-UK)
“How could any exotica cult film buff take a pass on this extravaganza?”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Val Guest’s low-budget Hammer production is an unusual B-movie monster film; it’s strangely conceived in Shepperton Studios that mixes bikinis with a script adapted from an idea by cult sci-fi writer J.G. Ballard about the prehistorical world of dinosaurs and tribal warfare among mankind at the beginning of time. It’s an inane sequel to the 1966 One Million Years BC, but is well-crafted considering how tacky it is…and…enjoyable if viewed as a really bad film requiring no thinking. J.G. Ballard is quoted as saying “I’m very proud that my first screen credit was for what is, without doubt, the worst film ever made.” The dazzling stop-motion animation dinosaur visual effects were by Jim Danforth and Roger Dicken, who were nominated for an Oscar.
It’s set in what goes for the prehistorical age (shot in the Canary Islands), as the cliff-dwelling barbaric Stone Tribe of sun-worshipers sacrifices all the island’s three young blonde bikini clad women to the Sun god in return for gaining protection from the giant carnivorous lizards looking to devour them. Sanna (Victoria Vetri, former Playboy Playmate of the Year in 1968) is one of the beautiful blondes being sacrificed because she’s blamed for a sudden deviation of the sun that causes all the island weather disturbances. Fortunately, she is saved as a cyclone sweeps her over a cliff and out to sea. She is rescued by muscular fisherman Tara (Robin Hawdon), a member of the nearby Sand Tribe, but Sanna’s affair with Tara doesn’t sit well with Tara’s jealous girlfriend Ayak (Imogen Hassall). Things worsen as the tribe ostracizes the couple when a moon appears in the sky for the first time and a storm appears, as the ignorant tribe is confused and panics. Ayak comes to the conclusion that this is Sanna’s fault, and accuses her of witchcraft. As a result Sanna flees into the jungle where she must survive on her own amid the dinosaurs, where she will live happily ever after with her lover Tara–that is, weather permitting. Sanna trains one of the baby dinosaurs who believes she is one of her offspring, while the tribe scatters in fear of the dinosaurs. Later a typhoon leaves those still around fighting for their survival.
So what if it’s scientifically inaccurate! The prehistoric language of choice uses fictionalized monosyllabic dialogue to utter such cave talk gibberish as: “Akita! Akita! Akita!” How could any exotica cult film buff take a pass on this extravaganza?
REVIEWED ON 2/4/2004 GRADE: C