Ahh, it’s been a while since I had the pleasure of watching an old school dinosaur movie, well for the purpose of this blog at least. I say a while but in reality, it’s only been a month. Anyways, I remember catching portions of this movie on cable every now and then back in the day but never really had a chance to watch the whole movie. Then, a few years ago, I went on a dino-movie buying binge and decided to pick this up to add to my collection. So let’s see how good of a purchase I made with today’s movie, When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth.
The plot: In prehistoric times, a mountain dwelling tribe of cavemen are preparing to sacrifice three women with blonde hair to their sun god. As the sun starts to rise, one of the women attempts to escape but the guards grab her and as she struggles with them, she ends up falling off the cliff with one of the guards, where they both die on the rocks below. As the tribal leader, Kingsor, orders the sacrifice to continue, the wind suddenly picks up, forcing all of the tribe to the ground, while the sun seems to bellow out clouds of gas. One of the women, Sanna, decides to try and escape and ends up falling into the ocean, where she starts to swim away into the rough seas. Sanna is eventually rescued by Tara and some other cavemen from a beach dwelling tribe, who were out fishing on their raft, but the rescue is observed by Kane, who had fallen off the cliff during the windstorm but managed to find footing on a small ledge. Back on the mountaintop. Kingsor heads to the area where they keep all of the tribe members with blonde hair and picks out some more people to sacrifice, as the sky has suddenly grown darker, when Kane returns and tells him about Sanna being rescued. Meanwhile, the raft returns to the seaside village, where other members of the tribe have captured a plesiosaur. Tara calls out to the village and brings Sanna to the shore. As the tribe’s leader comes to examine Sanna, a commotion occurs as the plesiosaur breaks free from it’s restraints and pins a young boy underneath it’s limb. Tara and the other men quickly work to free the boy, then try to fend off the plesiosaur, moving small rafts with fires in front of it to chase it off. When the plesiosaur continues to move towards the village, Tara cuts open the large container they store animal oil in, and lures the creature towards it. When it steps in the pool of oil, Tara calls out for another caveman to throw a torch at it and the plesiosaur catches fires and dies. Later that night, the tribe celebrates with a feast and Ayak, a female member of the tribe, attempts to dance and seduce Tara but his attention is focused on Sanna, who is building herself a house on the beach. Tara grabs some meat and drink and takes them to Sanna and the two talk briefly before Ayak interrupts them, and Tara leaves with Ayak following. The next day, Tara wakes up Sanna and gives her some fish to eat, then heads out with some of the other men onto the raft. Meanwhile, Kingsor gathers the men of his tribe and they prepare to head out to find Sanna so they can sacrifice her. As they are marching, they see the sun acting weird and quickly begin praying to it as the sun seems to disappear, then reappear even brighter than before. Back on the beach, the sea tribe see the same phenomenon and Ayak, believes Sanna is responsible. Heading into Sanna’s house, Ayak finds Tara’s knife and necklace and, grabbing them, heads out and confronts Sanna as she stands in the surf. Sanna declares her innocence but Ayak attacks her and the two fight until Ammon, the tribe’s leader, breaks up the fight. Khaku questions Sanna and when she tells him Tara gave the items to her, Khaku orders Ayak to return them, chastising Ayak when she throws them to the ground. As Sanna returns to her home, Kingsor and his men arrive and start asking about Sanna. Sanna sees them and quickly leaves through the back of her home, making her way across the sand dunes to safety. Back in the village, Ayak tells Kingsor where Sanna is and Kingsor sends Kane to check, who tells him that Sanna is gone, and Kingsor orders his men to chase after her. Making her way to a small wooded area, Sanna hides in a tree as Kane and his men search for her. A python starts to move across her but she stays still and it eventually drops to the ground, where it ends up killing one of the men. Kane and the other men see a nearby cave and think Sanna might be hiding there but the find a triceratops there instead, which kills the two men and injures Kane. Back at the village, Tara and the others return with their catch and when he learns that Sanna is missing, he takes some men to go looking for her. They soon find Kane and help him and as one of the men, Khaku, checks on the other men by the cave, he is attacked by the triceratops. Tara and the other men distract the triceratops, allowing Tara to pull Khaku to safety, but he dies from his wounds, and when the triceratops chases after him, Tara lures it to the edge of the nearby cliff, where it falls over the edge. Tara and the men return to the village, where a funeral is held for Khaku, and afterwards Kingsor blames Sanna for Khaku’s death and incites the tribe into a frenzy, causing several of the women to burn down Sanna’s house, though Tara tries to stop them. Back in the jungle, Sanna hides as a large reptile moves through the jungle and ends up caught in a carnivorous plant but she is able to get away, cutting off part of her hair to escape. Tara, who had left the village during the frenzy, goes looking for Sanna again and finds her tracks where she had left the tree. Heading in the direction she went, he soon finds the portion of her hair that she cut next to the dead plant and believes that she is dead. Meanwhile, Sanna continues moving as a storm picks up and she takes shelter in a dinosaur egg that had broken open, as another egg starts to hatch nearby. Back in the village, Kane returns with Sanna’s hair and tells Kingsor and Ammon that Sanna is dead and Kingsor makes plans to return to his tribe, leaving Kane there to heal until he is able to return. The next day, Sanna is woken up by the mother dinosaur returning and, seeing Sanna emerging from the egg, mistakes it for one of it’s offspring and pushes the deer carcass it had brought towards her. As the days pass, Sanna ends up befriending the baby dinosaur that had hatched, playing games with it and attempting to domesticate it. One day, Sanna hears Tara and Kane yelling, as the mother dinosaur is attacking them, but Sanna calls out to the dinosaur, causing it to turn back and allowing the two men to escape. Tara and Kane make their way to the mountain village, where they are welcomed by Kingsor and the tribe. As Tara looks around, he sees the area where the members with blonde hair are kept and he spots one woman trying to use tar to hide her child’s blonde hair chooses to keep her secret. Tara then heads out to get some water before returning to his village but is attacked and carried off by a pterodactyl. When it drops him in it’s nest, Tara continues fighting it, managing to tear one of it’s wings before stabbing it in the chest. As he makes his way back to the village, he sees Sanna being chased by a dinosaur and goes to help her, only to find that Sanna has domesticated it, as it listens to her commands and as they leave, they are spotted by another caveman, who quickly runs back to tell Kingsor. Sanna leads Tara to her home, where they end up having sex, and the next day, Tara makes plans to return to his tribe but will keep the fact that Sanna is alive a secret. When he returns to his tribe, he finds Kingsor and his men there and they accuse him of knowing where Sanna is. Tara feigns ignorance but the man who spotted them tells him what he saw and Kingsor orders Tara to be executed. Ammon pleads with Tara to tell them where Sanna is but he refuses and he ends up tied to a raft, which is set on fire, and sent out into the sea. A plesiosaur attacks the raft and when no sign of Tara is seen in the water, the people all believe he has died, but Tara survived the attack and swims off to return to Sanna. He eventually reaches Tara’s valley, where she finds him and tends to his wounds, but as she is cooking some fish, Kingsor and his men see the smoke from their fire and give chase. Sanna leads Tara out of the valley through the lake and are chased by Kingsor and his men, as well as members of Tara’s tribe. The make their way through the mountains, trying their best to avoid their pursuers, but find their way blocked by two dinosaurs fighting and as they try to go around them, they are spotted by Kane. Sanna and Tara continue running but are eventually cornered by the hunting party and grabbed but before they can carry them off, the mother dinosaur appears and attacks the group, then carries off Sanna in it’s mouth. Tara is taken back to the sea village, where Kingsor orders him to be set on fire again but before the execution can commence, one of the women, Ulido, comments on the ocean water having receded. As some men head out to examine the ground uncovered by the water, giant crabs emerge and start attacking the men. As Tara watches, he notices a giant wave approaching the shore and everyone starts panicking about the oncoming wave. Sanna returns to the village and frees Tara, and they head towards one of the rafts, accompanied by Kane and Ulido. Ayak calls out for Tara and runs towards him but ends up falling into some quicksand and quickly sinks from view. Kingsor walks out into the surf and attempts to placate the ocean, then spies Sanna and tries to kill her but Tara stops him and they quickly paddle out into the water, as the tidal wave washes ashore and kills Kingsor, Ammon, and most of the other villagers. The raft that the Sanna, Tara, Kane, and Ulido is on is picked up by the water and ends up being carried up to the mountain and as the waters recede, they carefully step onto the ground. Tara points to the sky, where they see a lunar eclipse for the first time, and they all drop to their knees and watch as the sky grows dark, then becomes light again, and they then get to their feet to survey the damage done to the land as the moon now orbits the Earth.
Hammer films has always been an interesting brand as they mainly were known for remaking classic horror movies to reintroduce the characters to audiences for the first time in color. That being said, this was actually a decent movie, though I will admit it was a bit boring. The acting was ok, with Victoria Vetri and Robin Hawdon doing a good job as Sanna and Tara respectively. The story was pretty interesting and I thought the cavemen worshiping and sacrificing to the sun, and how they were frightened and confused by the lunar eclipse and the formation of the moon, was a nice bit of storytelling. However, I did think that they tried to mimic One Million Years B.C., which coincidentally was also made by Hammer Films, a bit too much, especially the whole male from one tribe falling in love with a female from another tribe. The stop motion animation with the dinosaurs was pretty decent and I liked several of the designs. It also looked like the stole a quick clip from the 60’s remake of The Lost World to use, which was the quick scene of the two dinosaurs (actually a monitor lizard and an alligator in makeup) fighting. I did like the effects with the tidal wave and the scene with the beach and the crabs, as I felt it was very well executed. A pretty decent dinosaur movie if you feel like giving it a try.
Rating: 3 out of 5