Director – Gregory G. Tallas, Screenplay – Sam X. Abarbanel & Gregory G. Tallas, Producer – Sam X. Arbarbanel & Albert J. Cohen, Photography – Lionel Lindon, Music – Raoul Kraushaar, Special Effects – Howard A. Anderson, Makeup Supervisor – Sam Kaufman, Art Direction – Jerome Pycha, Jr.. Production Company – Alliance Productions, Inc..
Laurette Luez (Tigri), Allan Nixon (Engor), Joan Shawlee (Lotee), Judy Landon (Eras), Mara Lynn (Arva), Jo Carroll Dennison (Nika), Kerry Vaughn (Tulle), Tony Devlin (Ruig), James Summers (Adh), Dennis Dengate (Kama), Jeanne Sorel (Tana), Johann Peturrson (Guaddi), John Merrick (Tribe Leader), Janet Scott (Wise Old Lady), David Vaile (Narrator)
A tribe of cavewomen set out to find men for themselves. They come across a group of men who attack and kill the women’s tame panther. The women abduct several of the men and make them prisoner. One of the men Engor sets out to find what happened to his comrades, discovering fire along the way. He is then captured by the women where the leader Tigri decides she wants him as her husband. In between their battling dinosaurs and the fearsome giant Guaddi, the men and the women discover an attraction to one another.
The prehistoric genre began in the silent era with short films such as The Cave Man (1912), D.W. Griffith’s Man’s Genesis (1912) and Willis O’Brien’s The Dinosaur and the Missing Link: A Prehistoric Tragedy (1915). The genre reached a peak in the 1960s with Hammer’s quadrology One Million Years B.C. (1966), Slave Girls/Prehistoric Women (1967), When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970) and Creatures the World Forgot (1971). The genre fairly much died out after the 1970s where if filmmakers have touched it at all it has been comedies like Caveman (1981) and The Croods (2013) or more anthropologically realistic works such as Quest for Fire (1981) and Clan of the Cave Bear (1986).
Prehistoric Women – not to be confused with the alternate title for Hammer’s Slave Girls – has a fairly bad reputation and seeing the film does not disappoint on this. The film is cheap and tattily made. It lacks the stop-motion effects to create decent dinosaurs – we do get a couple of scenes with a very wobbly looking pterodactyl flying over and attacking but the main menace is actually a giant (played by a tall actor).
The drama is dull. The plot is a simplistic one, although it does generate a few of the cliches used by later films – the man having to choose between the good girl and slutty bad girl we had in One Million Years B.C., or the discovery of fire plot later used by Quest for Fire. What becomes rather funny are the scenes after the men are captured whereupon they fall into an indentured domesticity with the various women hitting and pushing them around.
The film is crippled by the same problem that all prehistoric films have – namely that the cavepeople are not able to speak, requiring either dialogue that is improbably in English or consists of grunts, subtitles or, the option that Prehistoric Women goes with, a narrator who tells us what is happening. The one we have here speaks with the easygoing false bonhomie of narrators in 1950s newsreel shorts – the glib cheer of it all grates on your nerves. This also leads to some unintentionally hilarious lines: “The next morning, the six determined women set forth on their mission accompanied by one of their panthers.”
This is possibly the one film out there that cries out for a proper dvd restoration. The copyright on the film fell into public domain and so it has floated around forever. The only copy that is apparently available to everybody is the same one that can be found on YouTube (see link below). However, this appears to have been cropped for television viewing and cuts the corners off the names on the opening credits. It also feels like it has gone through multiple generations of video copying to the point where the colour is completely washed out – the fire the cavepeople discover looks pink, for instance. Moreover, the scenes that take place at night-time and in darkened areas are so murky that it is impossible to tell what is happening.
Director Gregg Tallas was previously the final credited director on the lost world film Siren of Atlantis (1948). Tallas later returned to his native Greece and made a handful of Greek language films. His only other work of genre note is a segment of the horror anthology Cataclysm (1980).
Full film available here