Do you remember this movie poster?
It’s for Roger Corman’s TEENAGE CAVEMAN (1958) a picture that appeared in the “MOVIES I’D LIKE TO SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN” section of this here blog.
Well I’ve now seen it, not on the big screen but I’ve seen it nonetheless and let me tell you this…..
The movie poster is slightly misleading.
Now that’s not to say I don’t love this film, It’s a nice piece of work, and I suppose they’ve got to advertise the thing somehow but at no point in this picture, nowhere at all, does ANYTHING REMOTELY like the scene in the poster take place….. In saying that, they do get chased by some hungry looking dogs, yes dogs, the household type. In fact if you look close enough, I’m sure you can spot a collar.
The film stars a young Robert Vaughn as the “rebel”. Vaughn is best known for his long run in the hit 60’s show THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. but also revered for his turn as the fiendish Ross Webster from SUPERMAN III…by far the worst villain name in movie history.
A hairdresser in Bedrock?
Being prehistoric times (or is it?) the characters don’t have names. Vaughn is “The Symbol Makers Teenage Son”. His dad, not surprisingly, is “The Symbol Maker”. They are members of a prehistoric tribe governed by ancient rules that basically prevents them going “beyond the river”, as the first clip will explain. Despite food being scarce on their side of the water and plentiful on the other, they must not cross for fear of encountering “The god that brings death with its touch”, that’s another thing I adore about this film. It’s like Corman wanted every character to have a name that takes a fortnight to say.
There’s also unspeakable horror to be found with monsters, dogs, bears, big squirrels and “earth that will take you”, or quicksand to the layman. It’s great stuff.
This first clip sets things up nicely. Pretty much all of this picture is shot on one location which would have helped with the time and budgets they had. Look out for the first signs of the perils that lie beyond the river whilst admiring the script and acting.
Vaughn, full of rebellious teenage energy, leads a mob of hardy (yet incredibly weedy looking) lads beyond the river to search for food and possible future prosperity for the tribe. Trouble was bound to come his way and doesn’t let him down when he finds himself faced…… well, not actually “faced” with two VICIOUS looking monsters. I’ve uploaded this delightful scene for you to feast your eyes on. Not only are the beasts rather nice, check out Vaughn’s girly spear throwing technique. It’s a thing of beauty.
Tribal retribution comes his way following this reckless jaunt across the water as his nemesis, protector of the old ways and tribe hate monger “The Black Bearded One, seeks to have the curious lad strung up for bringing evil upon them, this guy is for me the strongest character in the movie and could either be a representation of the Soviets, or maybe the republican party. This film is loaded with cold war metaphor. It could have just left you to work this out for yourself but the last 3 minutes of the picture are devoted to a voiceover telling you EXACTLY what you’ve watched and EXACTLY what it means. Kind of like the moral telling off you used to get at the end of the He-Man cartoons.
The Black Bearded One: He’s got a beard, and it’s black.
I’m dying to tell the rest of the plot which involves a nice twist at the end surrounding “The god who brings death with his touch” but it ain’t in the tradition of this blog to do so. At only 65 minutes it’s not a huge time investment. These films were made for teenage drive-in audiences so they’re just damn good fun. Let’s not take anything away from the filmmaker however. Roger Corman knew how to get movies made, and how to get young talent working.
I’ll leave you with the weediest part of the film. As I’ve said, Vaughn doesn’t really pull off the “rebel” character for me; he’s more like a member of the prehistoric Young Conservatives. I think this scene demonstrates it perfectly…… Just check out how RUBBISH his bow and arrow is. It is a great little film though, if you notice it on some strange cable channel at 4 in the morning, I recommend you stay up and have a look.