Thursday, September 13, 2012

If You Think Your Life Sucks, Then Please Watch...

 Hi Keeba and hello movie lovers! It is I, the Movie Maven, here to...what? You say you're feeling down?  You feel like your life is stalled in traffic on a hot day in a small car without air conditioning and the radio is playing nothing but Barry Manilow, Celene Dion and Katy Perry songs? Sounds like you need some cinematic medicine from Dr. Feel Good to chase those blues away. And lucky for you, I have a real celluloid corker that promises to do just the trick. It has romance, drama, adventure and a rubber chicken masquerading as a Pterodactyl. So (repeat with me now) if you think your life sucks, then please watch..."The Prehistoric Women"(1950)!

Written by Sam X. Abarbanel and directed Gregg C. Tallas (who gave us "Siren of Atlantis" in 1949 and "Bikini Paradise" in 1968, so he definitely has an enlightened view of women), "The Prehistoric Women" concerns itself with "romance when the world was young." How young? Well, the filmmakers aren't so sure. The story unfolding before us could have taken place 10,000 years ago. Or 100,000 years ago. The "archaeologists who unearthed this tale" aren't even sure themselves, the flick's narrator (David Vaile), admits. Producer A.J. Cohen would later insist that "The Prehistoric Women" was "50% accurate, scientifically", which ought to satisfy everybody.

Anyway, our story begins a l-o-o-o-o-ng time ago, before the civilizing influence of cable TV or the written word. A tribe of prehistoric women, all dressed in the latest animal print fashions, are dancing up a storm and feeling rather restless. How come? Because they have no men folk to canoodle with. Why? As the Wise Old Lady of the tribe (Janet Scott) explains, about 15 years ago their mothers made the decision to break with men folk because they were brutal creeps. And indeed they were. As flashbacks show us, the club wielding men of their former tribe expected the gals to haul dead animal carcasses all over the place and never let them stop to rest or get water. And if the gals did stop for a bit, the men would slap them around or bonk them on the head with their clubs.

Finally, a woman named Tana has enough. When her man knocks her to the ground, she picks up a rock and brains him on the skull. You go, girl! Then she gathers up the rest of the women and their daughters and they head for the hills.

Under the leadership of emerging feminist Tana, the prehistoric women set up a man-free commune where they learn to fish, tame panthers for pets and create functional living quarters in trees. Everything appears to be going great guns until eight foot, three inch Johann Peturrson (an Icelandic circus performer by trade) roars on as the local giant "Guadi". He has the nerve to off three of the tribe members, including Tana. So its up to the Wise Old Lady of the tribe to herd the remaining females to safer ground.

Flashbacks over, the tribe is now under the leadership of Tana's daughter Tigri (Laurette Luez). On the advice of the Wise Old Lady of the tribe, Tigri leads her fellow tribeswomen and their pet panther on a quest to find some men--purely for "breeding purposes", you understand. Soon enough they find some conveniently hunky guys who are out hunting tigers. Wasting no time, the females load their sling shots with rocks and pummel the guys into submission. Gasps narrator Vaile, "The men are surprised to find themselves under attack by the weaker sex!" While the gals hog tie their captives and march them back to camp, a chap named Engor (Allan Nixon) hides away. He then staggers back to his tribe of cave dwellers and is nursed back to health by his mom.

Determined to free his buddies and punish the pushy prehistoric women, Engor heads out on a rescue mission. Along the way he discovers fire which, the narrator explains, "(Engor)doesn't understand" but does sense "this new discovery has the power to inflict injury." It also makes food taste better.

Advanced as Engor is, he still manages to get captured by the prehistoric women and leader Tigri claims him as her own. Understandably, things get off to a rocky start. True to her bossy nature, Tigri soon forces Engor to perform various chores, with limited success. The most memorable involves a boulder Engor has trouble moving. As Tigri's impatience grows, the duo gets into a snit fit and start trading gibberish insults--which the omnipresent narrator translates for us lucky viewers:

Engor: "Gee-nay! Elko! Lee-to!"

Narrator: "He has just asked her, "If she is so wise and superior, why doesn't she see if she can move the rock!"

Using a branch for a lever, Tigri does just that.

Engor:0 Tgiri:1

Later on, while reclining in their tree house, Engor will attempt to get cozy with Tigri and she slaps him for getting fresh. However, when another member of her tribe shows an interest in Engor, Tigri beats her up. The hunky Engor clearly stirs something up in Tigri, even if she doesn't quite exactly know what it is. To cool off, Tigri goes for a swim and dives like an Olympian off a cliff. This causes the narrator to comment,"Ironically, the Swan Die was invented before the swan."

Of course, because "The Prehistoric Women" is billed as a "love story", Tigri and Engor eventually do iron out their differences. Before that happens, though, the men over power their female over lords and force them back into submissive servitude. Savvy viewers will recall that it was exactly this kind of maltreatment that drove their prehistoric moms into ditching men in the first place. No matter. As narrator Vaile triumphantly declares, "And so the tables are turned. The dominant male is happy and contented. Women wait on him as though he were king."  Even better, "The once proud, fiery leader of the tribe (Tigri) meekly obeys..."

This turn of events wouldn't be possible if the prehistoric women hadn't come to see that male domination was better with their own eyes. The tipping point for this reversal comes when the guys save the women from...a rubber chicken strung up on wires that is suppose to be...a Pterodactyl. Later, that pesky Guadi returns and chases everybody into a cave. Quick thinking Engor then lights a fire that befuddles the poor Icelandic giant and burns him to a crisp. Male superiority thus firmly established, Tigri and the gals ask Engor and his chums to join them in forming a new tribe. They agree. The Wise Old Lady of the tribe, smiling broadly, then performs "a marriage ceremonial" whereby the fur clad couples mingle their blood to seal their unions. This moves narrator Vaile to conclude, "And so in those distant days, even as today, the eternal battle for supremacy between woman and man was solved, not through the clout and the glove, but through romance." Cut and print.

 Unfortunately, even this happily-ever-after send off failed to impress movie critics or audiences who "laugh(ed) uproariously" (in the words of the L.A Daily News) through the entire flick--and continue to do so today.

"The Prehistoric Women" was later remade, sort of, in 1967 under the titles "Slave Girls of the White Rhinoceros" or "The Prehistoric Women". The star was Martine Beswick, a former Bond Girl with the acting talent of a gravy ladle. However, both films were in the running for the coveted Golden Turkey Award for "The Most Primitive Male Chauvinist Fantasy in Movie History" in the prestigious Son of Golden Turkey Awards by the Brothers Medved. The eventual winner was "The Mesa of Lost Women" (a film chronicled in this blog), but there is no doubt both films deserved to be nominated in this category.

After watching "The Prehistoric Women", I hope you come to believe that your life may not be so bad after all.Remember, Tigri and her friends lived in a world without sanitation, medicine or dental floss. Sure, they could tame panthers, but they were powerless against rubber chickens rigged up on wires. And nobody expects you to haul around dead animal carcasses without getting a reasonable break now and then.

So, if you think your life sucks, watch "The Prehistoric Women" and I'm sure you will feel better soon. Until next time movie lovers, Save the Movies!