Archive for Creatures the World Forgot

Feature the World Forgot

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on April 4, 2017 by dcairns

Edited highlights of the cast list of CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT, Hammer’s third caveman epic. Just skip over it lightly, it’s not that thrilling in itself.

Julie Ege – Nala
Brian O’Shaughnessy – Mak
Tony Bonner – Toomak
Robin John – Rool
Marcia Fox – The Mute Girl
Rosalie Crutchley – The Old Crone
Don Leonard – The Old Leader
Beverly Blake – The Young Lover
Sue Wilson – Noo
Ken Hare – The Fair Leader
Derek Ward – The Hunter
Fred Swart – The Marauder Leader
Frank Hayden – Zen
Leo Payne – The Old Tribal Artist
Tamsin Millard – Rock Woman in Fight
Christine Hudson – Rock Woman in Fight
Cheryl Stewardson – Rock Girl
Samantha Bates – Rock Girl
Debbie Aubrey-Smith – Rock Girl
Audrey Allen – Rock Mother
Vera P. Crosdale – Old Rock Woman
Mildred Johnston – Old Rock Woman
Lilian M. Nowag – Old Rock Woman
Mark Russell – Rock Man
Dick Swain – Rock Man
Mike Dickman – Rock Man
John Hollis – Masked Attacker

Hammer made ONE MILLION YEARS BC which had excellent Ray Harryhausen dinosaurs and attractive starlets in fur bikinis. Then they made WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH which had excellent Jim Danforth dinosaurs and attractive starlets who took off their fur bikinis. Then they made CREATURES, which had no dinosaurs whatsoever and attractive starlets who hardly seemed to put their fur bikinis on at all.

The “stories” were never very great but they still managed to markedly decline across the informal tits-and-lizards trilogy, to the point where CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT makes ONE MILLION YEARS BC look like frickin’ Crime and Punishment. Hammer producer (boss’s son) Michael Carreras gave himself the job of writing it, because he was in a position to do so. Even though nobody else would have hired him to write an eye chart. True, he wrote BC also, but that was a remake. Left to his own devices, without a previously constructed narrative, he begins this one with the main characters being born, then sits back for twenty minutes while they grow up and we await the arrival of a plot. Jesus. In the absence of comprehensible dialogue, Michael Carreras, you had one job. Tell us a story.

The film is pretty near unwatchable for grown-ups and unsuitable for children. I can recommend it only to the senile or unborn.

The film isn’t even very useful for students of cinema to analyse as a bad example, because it’s awfulness is so obvious. And the thought experiment “How would I improve this?” can be answered in an infinite number of ways. Anything you do would improve it.

But I have one thought. Change the character names — make them the same as the actor’s names. It can still be in cavemanese, if you like, but make the leading lady a Julie, and her boyfriend a Brian. Hilarity ensues. Think of it! cavepersons called Audrey, Ken, Tamsin and Tony! Truly, when something is a sterile fantasy with no connection to the real, a dose of the mundane will spice it up. And when something is stale, flat and unprofitable social realism, a dash of surrealism is what you need.

“Mike!”

“Ugga ook heek moop, Mildred.”

“Nakk! Vera P. Crosdale acka pikk ungo, Derek.”

“Samantha! Cheryl! Urk anga!”

It would still be pretty low on my list of prehistoric adventures, but it would be better.

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“…I shall think that insubstantial death is amorous…”

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2008 by dcairns

I’ve given up commemorating birthdays here on Shadowplay because whenever I do it, the subject promptly keels over in a state of rigor mortis. I homaged Richard Widmark and Jules Dassin in my first month and look what happened to them. I thought about mentioning Hazel Court, missed the date, and she STILL died. So, no more birthday celebrations here.

Obituaries, however, are fair game — I can’t see what harm I can do there. And Friday’s Guardian obits page was fairly thronging with film talent: Tristram Cary and Julie Ege have both crossed the river to the Western Lands. The link between them is Hammer films.

Alec the dalek

Cary scored THE LADYKILLERS, which is enough to make him a Shadowplay hero in itself. That film is one of the most perfect feats of stylisation in British cinema, and the score plays a big part: Cary not only wrote the music, but also arranged the sound effects, to create the kind of unified effect often rendered impossible by the compartmentalisation of film production. The big bass drum that sounds as characters topple from a great height into a freight train is an example of music crossing over and BECOMING sound. The build-up to Alec Guinness’ entrance is a symphony of music and sound in perfect harmony, with Peter Sellers impersonating a parrot and a ringing doorbell as seamless parts of the mix.

The producer of THE LADYKILLERS, Seth Holt, used Cary again for the little-known but rather fine BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB, but it’s his work in electronic music, at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and elsewhere, that is Cary’s other great claim to fame. Apart from scary electronica for Dr. Who, Cary crafted many of those oddly neutral-but-bleak themes used in BBC educational programmes in the ’70s. They create quite a strange mood, like lying in a flotation tank and thinking about the relentless march of time, destroying all things.

A different sort of mood is associated with Norwegian model-turned actress Julie Ege. A genuinely guilty pleasure, Ege’s career touches on greatness with ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE (the best Bond film, the best Bond!) and Robert Fuest’s THE FINAL PROGRAMME, but is more customarily found amid the depths of NOT NOW DARLING, THE AMOROUS MILKMAN, UP POMPEII, etc. A film festival gathering of her comedy output could easily induce mass suicide, but that’s not her fault. The simple fact is that prior to the late ’60s, the British low-brow sex comedy was about sexual failure — grotesque, cheerfully depraved working-class halfwits failing to get their end away. The moment anybody actually scored the laughter died in your throat, because nobody wants to picture Sid James engaged in the physical act of love. Not even with Julie Ege.

Ege’s scream queen career ought to have offered more quality, since there were some decent horror films made in the ’70s in the UK, but her roles were in LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES (standing decorously by as Hammer films jump on the Kung-Fu bandwagon), CRAZE (getting picked up by Jack Palance at the Raymond Revuebar) and CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT (the third of Hammer’s dinosaur movies — the one where they left out the dinosaurs, story, and the tops halves of the fur bikinis), films that seem to compete with the sex farces for sheer depression and poverty of imagination. These are all important works for the true student of dreadfulness. Julie Ege’s beauty and casual approach to clothing makes them perhaps slightly less unwatchable than they might have been, but her greatest contribution to society was becoming a nurse, something which we really should value more highly than a willingness to appear onscreen without knickers.

My fondest memory of Ege is a parody of this archetype in The Making of the Goodies’ Disaster Movie, a spin-off book from the legendary TV comedy The Goodies. Ege appears in the book’s copious illustrations, playing a starlet who is outraged at the film-makers’ suggestion that she keep her clothes on for a part, even if it IS essential to the plot.

Julie’s movies, while nearly all terrible, provided sex-starved Brits with cheap thrills during the years when America was getting its rocks off to DEEP THROAT and the like, and by contrast the British films are quaint and sort-of innocent, if sexist. That’s really the reason I can’t celebrate Ege’s contribution to film more wholeheartedly — she made many of us happy by baring her bits, but she did so in films that were dismal celebrations of bimbosity, often portraying women not as objects, as feminist criticism usually argues, but as mentally deficient obligatrons, autonomous, apparently sentient beings whose desires and behaviour just happen to conform to the densest fantasies of the average Razzle-reader.

NOT NOW DARLING is available to rent or buy.