‘One Million Years B.C.’ and that Animal Skin Bikini
New on Blu-Ray, this campy classic is ready for a new look.
One Million Years B.C. is a 1966 adventure fantasy about a man banished from his tribe who meets a beautiful woman in his travels and goes on wild adventures to try and survive.
(The following in a heavily-updated article originally posted in 2015). Perhaps no other bikini in film history is as well known as the one Raquel Welch barely has on for the duration of this epic man versus dinosaur fantasy masterpiece. Well, except for maybe Ursula Andress. But that’s for debate on another site. Sticking to the poster, there is no doubt what the makers of this film were selling. Skin. Lots of it, and most of it on the enchanting and indescribably alluring Welch. Here it is:
Wow, right? Now, despite some incredible stop-motion animation by George Blackwell, the focus of this movie is 91 minutes of pure titillation, for lack of a better word. The poster, created by artist Thomas William Chantrell for Hammer Studios, who actually commissioned the work before Welch was even cast (he painted a nondescript woman as filler before completing this one), is one of the most memorable movie posters in film history. Let’s be honest, sex sells. At least in the movies. Welch’s stance is startlingly effective at generating a wealth of desire and emotions from viewers.
There is a powerful mix of passion and compassion in that poster pose, generating that intoxicating sexual and physical appeal. She is both strong and vulnerable, her long toned legs firmly planted and her open cautious arms defensively at the ready, she peers up and off to her left at something unseen that could be welcome or dangerous. Her slightly pursed lips are inviting and yet seem tempted to warn us away. It’s a marvel of a image and Chantell does it further wonder in his rendering, casting deep shadows and stark lines that draw us to the eyes, the waist, and of course, the bountiful bosom that sold more tickets than the dinosaurs in the film did. And they are great. Sort of.
In the film, directed by Don Chaffey and a remake of the 1940 One Million B.C., Welch doesn’t disappoint those who admired the poster before entering the theater (or these days, downloading on their computers). She thrusts and gyrates and jiggles to fan’s delight, and actually is a lot of fun to watch. The bikini was designed by Carl Toms, who made a career out of dressing (or rather loosely dressing) beautiful shapely actresses in exploitation films, and this remains his most endearing work, made so entirely by the body it clings to. While the iconic poster stance is not exactly duplicated in the film, Welch does showcase the goods throughout and leaves us with just the right amount of lust in our loins and joy in hearts.
The movie is itself more focused on Tumak (John Richardson), the son of Akoba (Robert Brown), leader of a tribe of hunters. Tumak is kicked out after a squabble over meat and must face the hardships of life in the elements alone, including the many wild animals and um, dinosaurs. Accuracy was not the first priority on the filmmakers to-do list.
He eventually is found by “Loana the Fair One” (Welch) and fellow members of her tribe of (hot) fisherwomen and taken to their Shell Tribe where he meets the men and people of a communal society. They are a more advanced people and share with Tumak their customs and ways and Loana shares a lot more. When a dinosaur attacks though, Tumak becomes a hero but is once again banished for his wanting of the spear he used to kill the beast. The guy just has no luck … or does he? Loana chooses to go with him and more adventures await.
One Million Years B.C. is a surprisingly technical masterpiece in terms of production as the legendary animator Ray Harryhausen worked with Blackwell to bring the creatures to life, mixing large projected real animals with stop motion dinosaurs. Incredibly complex shots were created for these moments that seem to pit extinct creatures against live actors. While we see the gaps in the process now, the sheer creativity for how they were achieved are not to be dismissed and make for some truly exciting moments, even if they aren’t as convincing when compared with modern techniques.
Taken for what it is, One Million Years B.C. is pure exploitation even though it features no nudity or sex, just skimpily-clad young women bouncing about in pools of water. The story is passable and trope-ish but is nonetheless loaded with good moments. But it’s Welch we’re all here for and she doesn’t disappoint, the film a campy classic with a bright beautiful star at the center and plenty of good clean fun.
Recently released on Blu-Ray, One Million Years B.C. is well worth a look.