CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT is the third and final entry in a trilogy of stone-age adventures from England’s Hammer Films. Unlike ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (1966) and WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH (1970), the movie eliminates the colossal prehistoric monsters, and thus the need for costly stop-motion animation effects (it also didn’t help that Jim Danforth’s painstaking work on WHEN DINOSAURS delayed its release). The last of many Hammer titles to be released theatrically by Columbia Pictures (who also put up financing), Sony now offers this exercise in prehisteria, sibling rivalry and survival as part of its continually impressive “Screen Classics By Request” DVD series.
In primitive times, a tribe of dark-haired cave folks are devastated by an earthquake. The survivors, now lead by an appointed chief (Brian O'Shaughnessy, SLAVERS), travel on and soon encounter a blonde-haired tribe. Their strange customs lead to an exchange of mates, and the chief chooses a young fair-haired girl (Sue Wilson) in a ritual which involves some introductory flagellation. She becomes pregnant and dies in childbirth after delivering twin boys (who of course end up looking nothing alike). The results of her death-inducing labor are The “Dark” Boy (Robin John) and The “Fair” Boy (Tony Bonner, SUDDEN TERROR). The brothers are instant rivals, with the latter being the more intelligent and civilized of the two, not to mention a hit with the ladies, namely the “Girl” played by the curvaceous Julie Ege (THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES) in the role which was supposed to turn her into the next Raquel Welch.
Because of the fact that CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT skips out on the dinosaurs and essentially involves scantily clad cave people cavorting, it’s often considered one of Hammer’s worst efforts, but it’s really not all that bad. Producer Michael Carreras’ script is simplistic but at least brings a more natural, adult-oriented approach in comparison to Hammers other stone-age romps, even if there is a level of silliness involved. There’s plenty of action, and things do move (the plot takes place over a span of years), with the main problem being that there is no dialog (no narration, and no phony caveman vocabulary, just grunts) which tends to make matters confusing, or worse, just bore the viewer. But the more organic approach to this kind of picture is actually refreshing, with primitive beings looking more gruff (and the women far from dolled up this time) and replacing the once-essential dinosaurs (who historically never coexisted with man in the first place) are authentic jungle animals including oryx, a hyena, wildebeests, warthogs, porcupines and a large python which is lucky enough to wrap itself around Julie Ege. The most laughable scene involves an aggressive cave bear; an actor in an embarrassing furry suit which looks like it was left over from “The Colgate Comedy Hour.”
While CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT placated Michael Carreras’ enthusiasm for adventure films (he was never big on Hammer’s signature gothics), it was more likely put into production to entertain his father Sir James’ (still head of Hammer, but not for long) love of the publicity wagon, and the hyping of the next big starlet. In 1970, Hammer and Columbia launched a campaign to find the “Screen’s New Sex Symbol of the Seventies”, deciding on the Norwegian-born Ege (who had already done a handful of pictures, including a bit in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE). Ege (who sadly, passed away in 2008), looks great in her two-piece animal skin get-up, even if her blonde locks are covered with a ratty brunette wig, and she certainly provides the right amount of jiggle. Ege did become something of a celebrity in the U.K., though her career was mostly grounded in low budget horror and cheeky sex farces throughout the 1970s.
The film was shot entirely on location in South West Africa, mainly in the Namib Desert. The scenic locations give the film a nice, broad visual scope, and Vincent G. Fox provides some commendable cinematography, which includes a number of interesting camera set-ups. Don Chaffey (who had helmed ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. and THE VIKING QUEEN for Hammer) does a good job of guiding the action, allowing the film to get very violent at times (including the graphic killing and skinning of an oryx) though no one is ever going to say this is his best effort (that honor probably goes to JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS). Italian-born veteran composer Mario Nascimbene (who provided the music for both of Hammer’s previous stone-age films) gives us an epic score which was once available on LP and is now available on CD from the Italian Legend label. Marcia Fox (OLD DRACULA) plays another sexy cavegirl who happens to be mute (not that it really matters when all you do is grunt) and the great character actress Rosalie Crutchley (BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB) plays “The Old Crone”, a witch doctor type who ages throughout the film and seems to have some kind of mystical influence over some of the other characters.
As Sony has recently released a number of their Columbia-owned Hammer titles as reasonably-priced DVD box sets with stunning anamorphic transfers, it’s certain that fans will feel gypped shelling out around $20 for CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT as a standalone. Released as an MOD (manufactured on demand) DVD and available for sale online, Sony’s edition of CREATURES looks fantastic, presenting the film in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement, and transferred from flawless vault elements (only jumping in quality when needless, albeit brief, stock footage from ONE MILLION YEAR B.C. is on display). The mono audio is also rendered exceptionally well. Like Columbia Home Video’s previous pre-record VHS release, the film is presented here in its full “unrated” version, showcasing a number of naked breasts and some bits of carnage. There is no chapter menu, but chapter stops can be jumped ahead at ten-minute intervals. The original theatrical trailer is included. For more information on this title, visit HERE. (George R. Reis)
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