Hammer's third foray into prehistoric adventure (following ONE MILLION YEARS BC and WHEN DINOSAURS RULE THE EARTH) is a dismal, low-rent affair, lacking in any artistic flair and any imagination. This time, the budget excluded any Harryhausen-produced dinosaurs (come to think of it, even the papier mache perils of THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT might have come in handy), instead concentrating on the exploitation features of nudity and barbarism.
Much of the fun to be had watching this film is the novelty value (although the film isn't original) of watching a bunch of hairy men and women running around, grunting and fighting indiscriminately. Not a single word is spoken during the course of the film, so events are depicted entirely through visual means of communication. This soon becomes tiring and boring to watch, as it takes about half an hour of set-up for the plot to really begin.
It's a muddled affair, concerning a pair of twin brothers who are caught up in destiny and other mumbo-jumbo courtesy of an annoyingly camp shaman who hangs around for the entire length of the film (all other characters from the beginning of the film have either died or moved on by this point), waving a bloody whip and making me wish I was there to beat the living daylights out of him. Not much of the film makes sense, and the plot is minimalistic to say the least. Mostly, it's concerned with people running around and hitting each other with sticks. Like an early version of TV game show GLADIATORS, if you will.
The acting is sub-par all round, with not even a name star making a guest appearance. The best they can do with is Julie Ege (THE MUTATIONS), left to supply the glamour interest, although she doesn't have a big role and pervy viewers will be disappointed that she doesn't shed her fur bikini either (although lots of other girls do, their faces conveniently obscured by hair - I wonder why?). All of the men in the film look exactly the same, with long brown hair and bushy brown beards, with the exception of the aforementioned shaman and the hero, a guy with blond hair (dyed) for a change. He is played by a young-looking Richard Branson.
The special effects are used sparingly, something which we ought to count ourselves lucky for, as what brief back projection work there is, is simply appallingly bad. There is some gore (controversial for the time, tame for today's standards), mostly consisting of blood-covered people, although a standout scene involves a man's nose being bitten off by another man. To make up for the effects, there is some nice scenery work (it was filmed on location in South Africa, so expect miles of desert and sand), although it has to be said, that by the end we're sick of it.
The perils in this film are hilariously bad. One bear is blatantly a man in a suit, and makes no attempt to be anything else. A tribe of squat, scary, Neanderthal men look more like they need a bath than being terrifying, while the climax involves a group of grey-painted guys with giant stone masks encircling their heads. Scary? No way. Absurd? Definitely. The fright value is somewhat diminished when one of the polystyrene masks slips forward and you see the flash of blond hair underneath. So did I like this film? Not really. It's so bad it's just, well...bad. However I will award it an extra mark because at least Hammer were trying something different instead of their usual Gothic horrors. Also, it might be worth watching for novelty value alone, but I wouldn't bank on it.
Review by Leofwine_draca from the Internet Movie Database.