Written by Michael Carreras
Directed by Don Chaffey
Starring Tony Bonner, Robin John, Julie Ege
US Release Sept. 1, 1971
RT 92 min.
Home Video Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Classic Horrors rating = 8 (out of 10)
Warning: review contains plot spoilers.
When you go on a movie binge like I have, watching more than 35 movies in one month, you’re bound to have surprises and disappointments. The number of the latter is usually larger than the number of the former. Therefore, when a surprise comes, you tend to exaggerate its good qualities. Keep this information in mind as I tell you how much I loved Creatures the World Forgot. Whether or not it’s the “best” movie in Hammer’s “Cave Girl” series remains open to debate. However, I can tell you without a doubt that it’s my favorite.
That may be due to a preference in style, and the style of Creatures the World Forgot is very different from that of One Million B.C., Slave Girls (aka Prehistoric Women), and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. Although we don’t really know what prehistoric times were like, Creatures the World Forgot seems the most authentic. There’s something about the locations and the cinematography; at times, it feels like a documentary. I don’t believe there are any interior sets, so it feels 100% “real.” The quality of the actual film is also different; I’m not sure how to describe that, but I’ll try…
Director Don Chaffee returns to conclude the series that he began five years earlier with One Million Years B.C. I don’t know if we credit him or cinematographer Vincent G. Cox for the creative camera work. The picture is clearer. The shot compositions are more interesting. There are extreme close-ups, unusual angles and camera movements. There are compelling POV shots, such as when a man trapped under boulders sees the flat side of a rock heading toward his face as another man slams it down to put him out of his misery.
I also prefer the story. Despite what the advertising says, hyping the appearance of Julie Ege…
“SEE the sensational new star Julie Ege. She’s a creature you’ll never forget!”
…Creatures the World Forgot is not really another women-running-around-in-fur-bikinis movie. Instead, the story follows the lifelong rivalry between two brothers for leadership of their tribe. While you can characterize the characters as “blonde” or “brunette,” hair color is not the distinguishing feature of different tribes. A love story is not the focus; there are no catfights over a man. If anything, there are more one one one fights between men, particularly Toomak, The “Fair” Boy (Tony Bonner) and Rool, The “Dark” Boy (Robin John).
As the movie begins, it could almost be a sequel to One Million Years B.C. That movie ended with cataclysmic phenomenon and this movie opens with cataclysmic phenomenon. There are no dinosaurs here, though. It’s all strictly human drama and adventure. Twice, there are… “creatures.” But they’re either just sand crabs or a “bear” in a cave. Speaking of the bear, it’s the one part of Creatures the World Forgot that is poorly handled. It’s a really bad effect, and the fact that a tribesman wears its head later as a hat does not make it any less so.
Toomak and Rool are born on the same day as a mute girl, actually “The Dumb Girl” (Marcia Fox). The tribe’s medicine woman, actually “The Old Crone” (Rosalie Crutchley), takes her under her wing as an apprentice after a lightning strike convinces her that the baby should not be sacrificed. The Dumb Girl grows up alongside the brothers and becomes Toomak’s ally. In fact, she is responsible for the final blow at the end of the movie that ends the brothers’ rivalry forever. But that’s jumping ahead. We witness the characters at four stages of their lives: as babies, as children, as young men, and as fully-grown men.
I like the transitions between these stages. Each one usually ends with some type of fight or event that leaves one of them injured. The next one begins with a shot of the scar from this injury on an older person. For example, baby Toomak is marked with a small cut on his chest. The next stage of his life begins with a shot of a boy with a scar in the same location on his chest. Likewise, after a fight with his teenage (let’s assume) brother, the next scene shows a scar on Rool’s leg where Toomak cut him several years earlier.
The stages depicted vary in running time, but the majority of the movie takes place in the final stage, when Toomak and Rool are adults. During this stage, Rool pursues his brother through the jungle toward a final confrontation high atop a mountain. There are obstacles along the way, during which Toomak actually tries to help his brother. It’s clear that there’s a classic, familial good guy/bad guy dynamic in play when Toomak’s assistance doesn’t earn him any favor from Rool. Headliner Julie Ege plays Nala, Toomak’s wife, but, as I mentioned, is not the focus of Creatures the World Forgot.
She’s merely a pawn between the brothers, becoming victim as Rool captures her near the end of the movie. Honestly, she’s insignificant to me in the movie. The Dumb Girl is a more compelling character and shows more emotion during her scenes, particularly during the movie’s conclusion. I wonder what audiences thought when they were lured into theaters to see it. I don’t know, but I speculate they were disappointed, which led to lower box office figures, which led to the end of the “Cave Girl” series. (If anyone who reads this has more information, please let me know.)
The other thing I like about Creatures the World Forgot is that there is no language created for the characters. Verbal communication is limited, and what little there is consists of only grunts. I’ve said before that it’s more involving because you have to pay attention to keep up with what’s happening. It almost makes you feel like you’re a part of the tribe. The final movie in the series does continue increasing the nudity, but here it’s in the background. It’s more “National Geographic” than it is “soft core pornography.” And, as in When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, the men are lean and mean.
We’re ending Hammer’s adventure phase on a high note. I never imagined I’d be writing that sentence after watching everything that came before Creatures the World Forgot. Whether you agree depends on your taste, I suppose. If you want lighthearted fun with stop motion dinosaurs and scantily clad, model caliber women, you should probably stick with its predecessors. But if you favor higher quality adventure with a more realized story, this is the prehistoric movie for you. I’d probably be exaggerating if I called the others “movies” and this one a “film,” but it does convey the essence of what I’m trying to say.