Sunday, October 23, 2011

PREHISTORIC WOMEN (Michael Carreras, 1967)

A tribe of beautiful women worship the extinct white rhino, their insufferable men relegated to grim impotence who are now replaced by an gigantic artificial phallus. Michael Carreras usually produces Hammer films but adequately directs this tepid tale of gorgeous women and tribal rhythms set amid the temperate savannahs and jungles of Bray Studios. This ho-hum drama has two good reasons to view...and they both belong to Martine Beswick! Ok, so we never get full frontal and all the women a drop-dead beautiful with perfect hair and makeup, but the self-assertive Beswick as the evil Queen steals the film. She moves like a jungle cat stalking prey, her lithe disarming sensuality dominating and nakedly severe. My disbelief was terminally suspended, not with the very absurdist concept of the story itself, but in the fact that the “hero” David spurns her aggressive advances!

The convoluted plot has something to do with a tribe forced into bondage because the white man has slaughtered the last albino rhinoceros, and David is magically thrown backwards into time to correct the sins of his fathers. He does this by freeing a tribe of blonde women and their spurious spouses all at the expense of a bevy of raven haired matriarchs. Is this a metaphor concerning the failing of male entitlement and the rise of feminist empowerment? Or a subversive metaphor about the fall of British Imperialism? Or could it reflect the fear of interracial marriage and racist propaganda? Well, I just think it’s a rather ignorant Eurocentric story about the mysteries of darkest Africa told like a juvenile adventure story. Carreras pads the film with too many dances and ceremonies but the actors fulfill their roles with utmost integrity, emoting the cheap dialogue with gusto and verve. This is a film that is actually better (though not by much) than it has any right to be.

Final Grade: (D)

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