The following summary contains bracketed asides from the Mystery
Science Theater 3000 treatment of the film (#315, with short
films "Aquatic Wizards" and "Catching Trouble").
American International. 65 minutes.
The Boy: Robert Vaughn (later on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) supposedly in his film debut
The Maiden: Darah Marshall
The Symbol Maker: Leslie Bradley
The Villain: Frank De Kova, later on F-Troop
Tribe Members: Charles Thompson, Joseph Hamilton, Marshall Bradford, June Jocelyn, Jonathan Haze, Robert Shayne, Beach Dickerson.
Produced and Directed: Roger Corman
Executive Producers: James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff
Screenplay: R. Wright Campbell
Music: Albert Glasser
Genesis 1 paraphrasing accompanies nebulous black-and-white cosmic
creation. [Joel: "Fantasia before they colorized
it."] "And then came man!"
After the credits, the scene opens with cavemen
carting a slain deer. [Joel: "Another Pleasant Valley
During the hunt, though, "boy" broke the forbidden
law and went beyond the river. His father, the "Symbol Maker,"
speaks to him, but "boy" sees rich hunting ground beyond
the river, and we see some brontos in a lake. Cavedad warns of
the "thing that gives death with its touch." [Crow:
"Caveman Without a Cause."]
Caveteen questions the "keepers of the
gifts of the gods": one tends a small fire, another spins
a wheel, the third builds and breaks. On a hunt [Tom: "Oh
look, it's a bathroom rug crawling towards us."], a bear
wounds the Symbol Maker [and he is taken to an "intensive
care cave]. Evil Frank De Kova tries to get caveboy fired up
about transgressing the law heroically, and then double-checks
to make sure that this means Death!
Teenage caveman tries to rally his peers, but
only three join him into the forbidden territory, where they see
stock footage from One Million B.C. (1940)--particularly
the lizard battle. When one of the four is sucked into a pool
of water, the two other enlistees return home. Teenage caveman
kills a squirrel with a rock and sees some more stock footage
including the armadillo from One Million B.C. A strange
creature appears [Joel: "Something goofy this way comes."]
and the boy runs away and smack into a tree, knocking himself
Back home, wounded dad finds out about the
transgression and takes off after him. Meanwhile, caveboy has
awoken and invents the bow. He kills a deer, but wild domestic
dogs atttack. Dad arrives in time to kill a dog.
Home again, "the son of the Symbol Maker
must die!" Frank and caveboy fight, and the old chief determines
that as punishment, no one "is to give voice" to caveteen--that
is, no one can speak to him, which is fine with him because he
invented the pan pipes while out and about. A girl naked in the
water gives him voice, nevertheless. Then a horseman appears,
is declared evil by Frank since they've never seen a person on
an animal and besides he comes from "beyond the burning plain,"
so they stone him to death despite caveteen's reasonings. The
dying man's last word is "Peace" before he is speared
Caveteen's coming of age ceremony now takes
place [although, as Tom Servo says, he's 37]. The symbols of
the gods are revealed: a metal ball. More tension between teen
and Frank follows, and cavegirl proposes domesticity and a "sleeping
[Crow: "This is why the dinosaurs died
off--you bored 'em to death!"] Restless teencaveboy37 takes
off again, followed by dad and a hunting party led by Frank.
When caveteen encounters the goofy monster thing again [which
Tom aptly calls an "anteater pinata"], all others catch
up, as do those attacking dogs. In the chaos, Frank climbs a
tree and throws a rock down on the monster while caveteen declares
it is "no evil thing." Teen shoots Frank finally with
an arrow. Soon, we are assured, there will be new laws.
The thing turns out to have been a man inside
a suit of some kind. Caveteen looks through 20th-century photos
labelled "The Atomic Era," and we hear the dead man's
narration: that he "and a party of 23 others" survived
"when the bombs went off" and global atomic war broke
out. Mutations brought about the dinosaurs (more stock footage),
and so taboos were established. Their unnaturally prolonged lives
occasionally brought them in contact with the new race of cavepeople.
The radiation gradually wore away. Perhaps man will try again.
"Will any survive . . . or will it be The End?"
So once again, post-apocalyptic = prehistoric. Hmph. A good
idea, presumably, but Crow was right and this is deadly dull fare.