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Released in 1966, Hammer classic, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C is the spectacular prehistoric adventure of Tumak, a caveman and the son of the leader of the rock tribe. When Tumak (JOHN RICHARDSON), is banished from his tribe he wanders through the brutal prehistoric lands until he stumbles upon the shell tribe and Loana (RAQUEL WELCH), the daughter of the chief who takes pity on the exhausted and injured wanderer and nurses him back to health. [Official Synopsis]

One Million Years B.C., the tale of long long ago when the world was just beginning is a film I must have seen countless times at this point. Usually via one of its many TV broadcasts that I wind up being taken in by and usually not in full because I tend to stumble across it half way through or leave before the end. So with this 50th Anniversary release it seemed to be the best opportunity to sit down and watch the film in full.

This is a weird film really. I mean this a film with almost zero dialogue beyond grunts and gestures. The special effects (a mix between great Ray Harryhausen stop motion and real life lizards with wigs on, blown up for scale) are so dated it almost feels like a hoax at times (especially the giant tarantula) and when you factor in the story has next to no historical accuracy it would be easy to laugh at the whole, sort of ridiculous affair. However for me, all of the above is what gives the films is enduring charm. This is a Caveman Fantasy film and somehow that works despite giving you very little to connect with really.

A large part of the audience obviously is drawn to the film via the stunning good looks of Raquel Welch. I mean come on, she shines in this film as cave-girl Loana. Yes, its utterly a man driven depiction of cave-girls, with all the women having fitted push up bra fur bikinis that also show a ton of leg and midriff, but it's a 60s film and it comes with the territory (not that much has changed in modern film really). Honestly, not only does Welch look beyond great here, she delivers a warm and charming performance and really does deserve to be the face of the film like she is because it's only from when she arrives in the story that it becomes something more enjoyable.

Video


The presentation opens with a grainy look that is a wash of grub and not exactly pleasant visual that comprise of what seems to be stock footage of volcanoes and a 60s smoke special effects that won't really convince anyone.

Getting through the opening credits the film certainly has a better depiction of colour ranges than the TV broadcasts usually I’ve been used to over the years. The screen is full of crisp detailed volcanic rocks and wide landscape shots look fantastic at times and the point of this HD release is utterly felt. Yes, it can sometimes look a little soft but under the right lighting conditions the image really comes to life in ways I’ve never experiences watching the film.

When people arrive in the film the image appears bright and fresh. Light glows off of bare bronzed skin and eyes twinkle when they capture the sunlight. Interior scenes (mainly in studio based cave sets) look a little softer than the exterior scenes but again lighting bounces off of oiled skin well and the fur costumes look detailed and layered giving a real sense of their weight (or lack thereof with the fur bikinis).

Of course the stop motion elements drop the quality right off given the aged techniques. The elements with actors look horrid, flat and grubby but for fans of Ray Harryhausen's work should enjoy these moments because the actual creature elements actually look great, full of detail and very very clean. These stop motion elements really seem a chasm away from everything that surrounds them in terms of quality and it really shows off the craft in how they were made.

Audio


The big bang opening is shrill and overbearing and a whole lot of noise. The score is strong throughout but very central and battles with the sound effects at all times. The track is not all that crisp sounding but it’s certainly more powerful than the TV broadcasts I've been used to so despite the limitations the track certain made the film's audio feels a little more dynamic.

The voice over narration at the beginning of the film is strong and clear and the score is certainly felt within the presentation with it clicky driving tribal beats. The storm in the early part of the film is again quite overbearing as opposed to impressive. Lots of rain hisses and thunder makes it quite the attack on the senses, this continues through any big or wild moments in the film which often led me to turn the volume down for brief periods as it wasn't a comfortable watch with the higher pitches Essentially the film sounds its age and a little muffled in the higher ends but its still noticeably stronger than I’ve heard the film sound before.

Extras


The 'Interview with Rachel Welsh' (12:14 HD) skips through the making of the film and her thoughts on the director. It's clearly a project that to her is a fluke in terms of it's status in film history but was obviously a stepping stone that did her career the world of good.

The 'Interview with Martine Beswick' (15:54 HD) repeats a lot of what Welch said but gives a good view of the film from a support roles point of view.

Last up are the 'Ray Harryhausen Stills, Storyboards and Artwork' gallery which is are all fantastic and genuinely pieces of art. There is also a 'Stills Gallery'.

Overall


One Million Years B.C. is all kinds of ridiculous and a type of film nobody makes anymore. Despite enjoying the film a whole bunch it's easy to see why this type of film fell out of fashion, it's a bit of fun but not treated at all lightly. The wild prehistoric world is delivered so straight faced at times its as if it's based on some historical documents detailing when cave-people fought dinosaurs and the situations of tribal war and carnage is so seriously depicted no one really gets the chance to shine on a character level beyond little glimmers, largely between our two leads.

I for one would sign up for the return of the caveman (or more so cave-girl) movies. With modern tech and the right dose of fun, there's no reason for the genre not to return to our big screens one day but for now, revisiting this admittedly weird but enjoyable classic was a delight. The video presentation was enough of a boost to be happy with it , the audio not so much and the extras are too thin to call this a real celebration but it's good to have One Million Years B.C. on Blu-ray even if it deserves a bigger treatment than this on its birthday.

* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.

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