Monday, January 22, 2007

Films that Should’ve Stayed in the Jurassic Era 04.07.00

It’s Yabba-dabba-doo time again at the cinema. The modern Stone Age family and the family down the street return courtesy of Fred’s two feet in The Flintstones…in Viva Rock Vegas. The second installment in Universal’s franchise, Viva Rock Vegas will lock triceratops horns with Disney’s Dinosaur for antediluvian domination this summer.

Prehistory has historically performed well at the box office, but for every Jurassic Park, there has been a Triassic Flop, for every Quest for Fire, a Quest for Story. Some fossilized features have failed financially, while still other hoary stories were simply horrid to begin with. Here are the best of the worst.

Prehistoric Women (1950)
This inspired piece of Stone Age-sploitation comes from Gregg G. Tallas, the genius Greek director behind the 1965 classic Bikini Paradise and one of three directors involved in the legendary Satan’s Supper. Kama, Nika, Eras, Tigri, Arva, Lotee and Tana need mates. Naturally, the generously endowed beauties don animal skin lingerie and grunt their way through a treacherous journey to find homo erectus husbands.

One Million Years B.C. (1967)
Not to be confused with the 1940 Hal Roach version of the same story, One Million Years B.C. is memorable for three things: Ray Harryhausen’s stunning dynamation effects and Raquel Welch in “mankind’s first bikini!”

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970)
As any fourth grader can tell you, when dinosaurs ruled the earth, there were no humans, but far be it for that to stop screenwriter/director Val Guest from introducing us to the Sand Tribe, a clan of attractive, half-naked cavemen and women who flee in terror from Cro-Mag-eating dinosaurs. All except Tara, who trains one of the reptiles to be her beastie-of-burden. When Dinosaurs… was adapted from an idea by counterculture sci-fi writer J.G. Ballard, a man who should know better.

The Land That Time Forgot (1975) and The People That Time Forgot (1977)
Adapted from the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fantasy novels of the same names, this twin pairing stars Doug McClure, which is really all that needs to be said on the matter. However, for the sake of giving discredit where discredit is due, McClure plays an American prisoner-of-war being transported by a German U-boat that veers off course and onto an uncharted island inhabited by dinosaurs, cavemen and a Paleolithic oil refinery. The Movies That People Forgot are one of my guiltiest pleasures.

Caveman (1981)
Legendary among Beatles fans and comedy fans alike for being a slap in the face to both, Caveman stars Ringo Starr, Dennis Quaid, Shelley Long, John Matuszak and Avery Schreiber in a “parody” of prehistoric epics. The people--or rather, the person--who loved Night Court’s Bull should watch for actor Richard Moll as the abominable snowman. Or skip it and watch Night Court instead. Caveman is summed up by its most memorable line, “Doo-doo.” “Caca.” “Sh*t.”

The Clan of The Cave Bear (1986)
I’m not at all opposed to watching a naked Daryl Hannah grunt and gesture her way through two hours of Neanderthal-speak, but there’s only so much attention even a naked Daryl Hannah can warrant. Adapted by John Sayles from the phenomenally successful Jean M. Auel novel, The Clan of the Cave Bear sat like a rock at the box office. Perhaps audiences couldn’t buy the proto-feminist theme of the film when Daryl Hannah’s teased tresses made her look like a heavy metal video threw up.

The Flintstones (1994)
From every writer who ever worked in Hollywood and the director who brought us Problem Child 2 and Beethoven, starring John Goodman, Rick Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins and Rosie O’Donnell based on a cartoon that was never very good, comes an abysmal family comedy that miraculously grossed $358 million worldwide. The most memorable thing about this movie was that Burger King ran a cross-promotion that featured Brontoburgers.

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