When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth (1969)

Rating: **
Review Date: 9/23/01
Special Effects: Jim Danforth
Cast: Victoria Vetri, Robin Hawdon

A tale of love and survival against a backdrop of fear and superstition. In prehistoric times when dinosaurs and humans co-existed (just go with it, okay?), there was apparently no moon orbiting Earth. Girls born with blonde hair were thought to be cursed, and were regularly sacrificed to the Sun God. One of the girls being sacrificed at the opening of the film is Sanna (Playboy Playmate Victoria Vetri), and she manages to escape her fate when the Moon suddenly appears in the sky and throws everything into chaos. She is rescued and taken in by a dashing caveman from another tribe named Tara (Robin Hawdon), but her blonde hair incurs the wrath of Tara's mate and she's forced to flee once again. But Tara turns his back on his tribe and pursues Sanna, and for the majority of the film they're on the run from the superstitious clansmen who want to sacrifice them both to appease the Sun God. And when they're not being chased, they have to deal with giant snakes, man-eating plants, giant crabs, and of course, dinosaurs. They finally manage to escape their pursuers with the aid of the tides, which the new moon has so graciously provided.

This is the only Hammer film to be nominated for an Academy Award (for special effects), but it's a real chore to sit through. The film is completely free of English dialog, apart from a brief narrative exposition at the beginning of the film. The sets and many of the action pieces are laughably bad, and the continuity suffers horribly from the constant switching between indoor shots, outdoor shots, stock footage, and rear projection shots. On the plus side, Jim Danforth's dinosaur effects are excellent and very fun to watch. Some of them even surpass Ray Harryhausen's work and I was constantly amazed by how seamless they were. But the real selling point of the film is Victoria Vetri's amazing body, which exposes as much skin as the filmmakers could get away with in 1969. I honestly don't know how she kept her top on, what little of it there was. I'm thinking glue must have been involved... Strangely enough, the film has a G rating, even though there's NO WAY you could get away with making this kind of film in today's political climate.