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Anchor Bay presents
"You are my slaves!"
DVD ReviewThere are a few rules one should follow when venturing into the African wilderness, which, like most characters in horror movies who actually go upstairs to investigate the screams coming out of the dark, the actors in these jungle adventures almost always seem to ignore. First: don't enter sacred grounds marked by cryptic icons. Second: if the leader of some tribe decides you are going to be their sex slave, it is rude to resist. Third: speaking out against the customs of a tribe can get you into hot water. Following up as writer of the previous year's One Million Years B.C., Michael Carreras returns as both writer (as Henry Younger) and director for his 1967 adventure Prehistoric Women (aka Slave Girls), in which the lead character breaks all the rules, in a fun, though not overly exciting Hammer Film.
Michael Latimer stars as David Marchant, a safari tour guide, who, while on a big game expedition, tracks a wounded leopard into the jungle. Breaking rule number one, he ignores the warning signs posted as boundary markers in the form of a white rhino, much to the objection of the rest of his native tracking crew who refuse to enter the sacred grounds. Not surprisingly, he finds himself surrounded by a group of savages who accuse him of sacrilege, and they cart him off to their tribal leader, who is in the midst of a ritualistic dance ceremony. Ushered into the tribe's shrine, he is sentenced to death, after being told the story behind their religion, and the legend of the white rhino, a statue of which is brought forth to witness his demise. Being an inquisitive chap, David reaches out to touch the statue, which results in a mysterious lightening flash that freezes his executioners in their tracks, and causes a fissure in the rock to open. He ventures through this opening and it leads him to a world of fantastic fauna, a world before time, and of course—as the title of the film would suggest—prehistoric women. His first encounter with the female inhabitants comes in the form of the fair-haired Saria (Edina Ronay), who he knocks out cold with a backhand across the face as his way of trying to help her. However, he is soon captured by a band of raven-haired Amazon mutes who lead him to their queen, Kari (Martine Beswick in the starring role, following her performance in One Million Years B.C.). While feeling men are inferior to her, Kari decides that David will be her new sex slave. When David refuses her advances after her seductive dance display (breaking rule number two) and speaks out against the slavery all blonde women in the tribe endure (rule number three), he is cast away into the dungeons with the other males, shackled and committed to labor. However, fearing the ritual sacrifice of her blonde companions to the jungle devils who guard their society, Saria sees David as their chance to revolt, and sneaks into the prison to conspire with him to aid their cause. None the wiser, Kari welcomes David's new acceptance for a place as her slave, but when Saria's jealousy exposes the truth, the conflict for power erupts among the prehistoric women.
The whole prehistoric premise was extremely popular in the late 1960s, and Hammer Studios provided a number of films in the genre during that time with Raquel Welch's performance in One Million Years B.C.being probably the most notable. Prehistoric Women (not to be confused with the 1950 film of the same name) was filmed in CinemaScope, and this widescreen release does exhibit some of the distortions caused by the extremely wide angle lenses used in a few scenes, with images on the extreme left and right becoming horizontally compressed. The film was released as Slave Girls in a shorter 74-minute version in England, and was banned in Finland, though the reasoning behind this eludes me, as aside from a few cat fights there is little violence to speak of, and only implied nudity during David's first encounter with Kari. For light camp entertainment, Prehistoric Women will fit the bill, though don't expect too much in the acting department.
Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: As an older Anchor Bay title, Prehistoric Women is presented in a nonanamorphic 2.35:1 transfer. The opening titles aside, the image is remarkably clean, with few scratches or dust imperfections evident. When zoomed for viewing on a larger 16x9 set, line structure is evident, and the appearance is somewhat soft and less detailed than you may be used to from anamorphic transfers. There are a few compression issues in the backgrounds, but they are minor. Colors have that late '60s look to them, which is common for films of this vintage. Overall, it looks pretty good.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: The two channel mono soundtrack is clean and free from any audible flaws. Dynamic range and frequency extension are somewhat limited as expected, but the soundtrack is adequately preserved, and suitable to the picture.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 25 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 TV Spots/Teasers
We also get black and white 60- and 20-second combination TV spots for Prehistoric Women and The Devil's Own, along with a 2-minute widescreen theatrical trailer. The extras are on the back side of the disc.
Also included is one of my favorite features, the thick cardboard insert featuring one-sheet artwork, though the weird insert holder in the case this copy came in caused the cardboard to warp due to the lack of side clearance available.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsIf you are a fan of Hammer style films, Prehistoric Women is an worthy installment, though those looking for lots of action or great acting won't really find it here. Not quite suitable for extremely young children, there is little other than a few suggestive scenes and some mild violence to be worried about here. Good campy entertainment, lots of girls in bear skins, a few dance numbers and cat fights make for some fairly light hearted adventure.
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