Creatures the World Forgot (1971) poster

Creatures the World Forgot (1971)

Rating:

UK. 1971.

Crew

Director – Don Chaffey, Screenplay/Producer – Michael Carreras, Photography – Vincent Cox, Music – Mario Nisembene, Special Effects – Sid Pearson, Production Design – John Stoll. Production Company – Hammer/Columbia.

Cast

Tony Bonner (Toomak), Robert John (Rool), Brian O’Shaughnessy (Mak), Julie Ege (Nala), Marcia Fox (Dumb Girl), Rosalie Crutchley (Old Crone)


Plot

Back at the dawn of prehistory. After a volcanic eruption kills most of his tribe, the fierce Mali asserts leadership over the survivors and takes them on an arduous trek across a desert region to find a new land. A tribe of more advanced blonde-haired people welcomes them. Mali takes a mate from the other tribe and she gives birth to two twin boys – the peaceful and intelligent, fair-headed Toomak and the cruel, dark-haired Rool. As the two boys grow up, they compete for the role of tribal leader and the beautiful Nala.


Hammer Films had had some success with a cycle of prehistoric films beginning with One Million Years B.C. (1966) and continuing with the likes of Slave Girls/Prehistoric Women (1967) and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970). Creatures the World Forgot was the last of this mini-cycle and is generally regarded as the poorest of the films, due to its eschewal of the stop-motion animated effects – indeed its lack of any dinosaurs at all – that had marked One Million Years and When Dinosaurs. There is a certain irony to all this – in attempting to make the film more cheaply, Hammer actually succeeded in making it the most anthropologically correct of the whole cycle. It also says much about the audience for these films – that they prefer the romantic spectacle of cavemen fighting dinosaurs to the prehistoric reality.

Julie Ege in Creatures the World Forgot (1971)
A prehistoric Julie Ege inherits the fur bikini

Certainly, Creatures the World Forgot is not as bad as many of the pro-dinosaur crowd would have us believe. Director Don Chaffey, who also made One Million Years B.C., stages a number of scenes well – there is one visually great piece with two women fighting for a water skin at the top of a dune, they rolling to the bottom while the water uselessly splashes out in closeup only to find they are then trapped there unable to scrabble up out of the loose sand. Don Chaffey also stages some exciting action scenes – the catfight between Julie Ege and Marcia Fox and the alarmingly realistic scene where Brian O’Shaughnessy is gored by a wildebeest. Some pieces like where chief Brian O’Shaughnessy gets water out of the ground or the scurrying for insects to eat have the flavour of anthropological verisimilitude about them.

In the end though, Creatures the World Forgot returns to the genre’s usual simplistic storylines – bad hero vs good hero, the saving of the put-upon fur-bikinied heroine – but for the most part the film is not too bad a variant. Minor Anglo-horror queen and top-billed former Miss Norway Julie Ege has a forgettably passive role.

Don Chaffey was a director who made a handful of films during the Anglo-horror cycle, including several others for Hammer’s exotica cycle with One Million Years B.C. (1966) and The Viking Queen (1967). Elsewhere, Chaffey directed Ray Harryhausen’s Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and the psycho-thriller Persecution/The Terror of Sheba (1974). In the 1970s, he moved over to work in US television and also made several children’s films with Disney’s Pete’s Dragon (1977) and the Hanna-Barbera film C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979).



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