12 Days Of Dino Dicember #20: When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth (1970)

The third (and penultimate) entry in Hammer’s “Cave Girl” series (One Million Years BC, Prehistoric Women, and lastly Creatures The World Forgot), when Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth (or The World, in its UK release) is also one of Hammer’s prehistoric cavemen and dinosaur films to be confusingly retitled as “When Dinosaurs Chased Their Own Tails” for its italian release, which also altered the opening voice over narration to make some random ass sexist and classist remarks about dumb bimbos and how unlikely “lazy student protesters“ were in the stone age and so on.

It would be utterly random if i was not well acquainted with the comtempt and disrespect italian producers at the time had for most “foreign but not american” films (or for example the shameful adaptation/mangling they did of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, especially the movies), and combined with the fact we usually made cavemen movies as comedies. Sex comedies, too.

Awful, awful comedies, like Grunt! from 1973, which had a cameo in Troll 2 as the “monkey rocketing through the air after touching a glowing egg” clip playing on the TV.

Problem is, this isn’t a comedy, it’s an adventure-drama about cavemen tribes, starting with one of the blonde women chosen as a sacrifice to appease the Sun God escaping by jumping off a cliff, then seeking refuge within a water-bound tribe that worships the Sun too but without sacrifices, with her former tribe giving chase and a lot of dinosaur action happening in between the cavemen tribes conflicts and their stone age-styled drama.

the cavemen even speak a specifically made up language, so subtitles don’t help as it’s cavemen gibberish with some recurring words that do mean something, but on the other hand you don’t really need much in the way of dialogue and subtitles since it’s heavy on mostly visual storytelling, so the plot can be followed without any kind of language barrier in the way but also has enough intricacies to make the most out of its primitive characters and their relationships, tribal strifes, and so on.

the stopmotion dinosaurs look quite good, production values overall are quite high for the time of release, and as always it serves as an excuse to see toned men in loincloths and beautiful women in mammoth bikinis, i mean, let’s be honest, historical accuracy was never the main goal, as these cavemen have already invented make overs and dental surgery (and when early humans existed dinosaurs were already extinct), but you know, this is pretty typical for most western productions on the subject, and it’s an artistical liberty taken for the sake of entertaiment.

This was quite likely a good film at the time… and it aged fairly well, acquired taste as it may be and despite how the visual effects haven’t quite perfectly aged, some are fairly obvious today in terms of how they were achieved, but never the less there are lot of dinosaurs shown, lots of actions scenes, stuff happens at a good pace, and snu snu (G rated one, though) ensues.

though if i had to nitpick i wish they made up a bit more of the “caveman language”, if only to hear less the technically 15 or so words that are used with some structure (hence by context you can easily guess what they stand for), which actually feel more like 5 or six, but it IS a nitpick.

Far worse is some incredibly obvious “day for night” editing, as in, it’s a single instance of the movie cutting to and from footage where its night and where it’s bright daylight…. but it’s SO obvious, sticks out even more since the rest of the movie it’s otherwise very well put together, AND it happens during a funeral scene, and more than once.

It’s a bit distracting and hard NOT to notice, but it doesn’t really detract from the surprisingly well aged experience overall, which also a bit more refined to what you could expect from a cavemen und dinosaur film from the era, without lacking the expected deluge of stop motion dinosaurs, good production values and entertaining action scenes. Some really solid vintage cavemen fun.

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