Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Prehistoric Women/The Witches|
Actors: Joan Fontaine, Kay Walsh, Martine Beswick, Edina Ronay, Michael Latimer
Directors: Cyril Frankel, Michael Carreras
Genres: Action & Adventure, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Women in fur bikinis and Joan Fontaine with a kooky coven
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 04/09/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Anchor Bay Entertainment continues re-issuing the lesser-known Hammer Studios films in the economical 'twofer' format with this release of Prehistoric Women (1967) aka Slave Girls and The Witches (1966), aka The Devil's Own.Prehistoric Women, written, produced and directed by Michael Carreras, is certainly the lesser of the two films here. Using sets from the film One Million Years B.C. (1966), Prehistoric Women tells a confusing and utterly pointless tale of David (Michael Latimer), a jungle hunter who stumbles on to a tribe of scantily clad, fur bikini wearing prehistoric woman, dominated by the attractive, but cruel, brunette Queen Kari, played by Martine Beswick. There are no men present, but later we find out they are all sequestered in a nearby cave, chained and forced to make weapons and such for the women. The story involves David perusing prey into land deemed sacred by the inhabitants, according to a legend involving a white rhino. Queen Kari maintains rule, along with a group of spear wielding brunettes, over another group of women, all blonde, who are slaves. Queen Kari desires David, but David desires one of the blondes, Saria (Edina Ronay). As the brunettes force various blonde slave women into sacrificial marriages with local demon spirits, the blondes plan to rebel, with David's assistance, taking his arrival as a sign that some ancient prophecy involving the white rhino can now be fulfilled. If you like half nekkid women dancing around in fur bikinis, then look no further, because there is a lot of that here. If you like a strong plot, good characters, and a coherent story, then you're in the wrong place. Like some of Carerras other projects where he got more involved in directing and writing, instead of just producing, like The Lost Continent (1968) and Shatter (1974), Prehistoric Women is a mess of pointless plot threads, sloppy and disjointed characters, and odd and choppy dialogue. The film finally ends with what Carerras must have thought to be a shocking conclusion, but it was more predictable than anything else. Certainly not the best Hammer Studios outing, but it does have the half-nekkid women, if nothing else.The Witches (1966) looks like spun gold next to Prehistoric Women, but is really a decent suspenseful mystery horror film starring Joan Fontaine as Gwen Mayfield, a teacher who, while working at a mission school in Africa, runs afoul of a local witch doctor and suffers a nervous breakdown as the witch doctor uses his voodoo magic to torment the woman. Returning to England, Gwen takes a position as head teacher in a school in a small English town, only to find out the town has its' own coven of witches, and she soon finds herself in the middle of some bad mojo. Fontaine plays her part well, despite the fact that this once Academy Award winning actress has settled for a part that she probably would have passed on in the prime of her career. The movie moves along well, slowly building tension as the witchcraft element becomes more pronounced, and sinister happenings increase, but falls apart a little near the end as we get to see the coven in action. They appear quite silly, dancing, bumping, grinding, chanting incomprehensible gibberish, while enjoying a sumptuous meal of dirt and muck, all being overseen by the head witch, dressed in colorful robes and wearing what looks like a lit candelabra on her head. Michael Carreras had nothing to do with the writing or directing of this film, and it shows. The film was helmed by another director, a more capable director in Cyril Frankel, who later went on to work the Hammer television series Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense (1984). Anchor Bay Entertainment puts out a real bargain here, seeing how the movies, previously released on DVD separately, cost more for those individual releases then they do in this two-disc set. Not only that, but you get everything included in those previous, individual releases, with regards to the movies and special features. The disc with the film Prehistoric Women on it has the movie on one side of the disc, with special features on the flip side. Special features included TV spots, a theatrical trailer, television promotional spots, and a World of Hammer episode titled Lands Before Time. The Witches disc has the film and special features on the same side of the disc, and includes a theatrical trailer, television promotional spots, and a World of Hammer episode titled Wicked Women. Both movies are presented in wide screen anamorphic, and this duel release also contains nifty little reproductions of promotional material for the films, with the back of the cards listing the chapter stops of the respective films. All in all, a great way to fill out your Hammer movie collection, and save a bunch of money in the process.Cookieman108"
An intriguing near-miss plus one of Hammer's maddest
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 04/05/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Witches aka The Devil's Own is an interesting but ultimately unsuccessful attempt by Hammer to make a serious(ish) movie about witchcraft. Nigel Kneale's screenplay displays some of his customary intelligence, but here he seems hindered by working not from an original story but by adapting Norah Loft's novel. A deathly pale Joan Fontaine is the schoolteacher recovering from a nervous breakdown who takes a job in an outwardly idyllic English village only to gradually suspect that there are darker forces at work - although this could just be in her own imagination. Of course, we know that she's clearly bonkers after her horrible offscreen experience at the hands of witchdoctors in Africa (well, a soundstage in Bray) while the credits were running, but we also know that just because she's had one turn of the screw too many doesn't mean there aren't real witches at work...
It's good at the unpleasant undercurrents in ostensibly beautiful small country towns and also looks at the attraction witchcraft has for women of a certain age (it's a power thing, apparently, with magic as a substitute for waning sexual power). Unfortunately, it goes downhill pretty fast once the cat is, quite literally, out of the bag and the last reel orgy plays more like a bad amateur modern dance performance that goes on forever than a terrifying pagan ritual (the silly costume doesn't help, although it's probably the only 60s film to feature faecophiliacs at play if that's your thing).
`Beware the lash of the savage goddess - ruler of a kingdom of women - where men are chained... tortured... and made slaves to desire!'
Hammer were infamous for coming up with a title, a tagline and a poster before they ever bothered with anything as mundane as a script, and never was this more apparent than with the truly bizarre quota quickie Prehistoric Women, which spliced their caveman pictures and recycled sets from One Million Years B.C. with the lost city/evil queen aspects of She to results so surreal even for the 60s at their most psychedelic that they almost defy synopsis. Alan Bates imitator Michael Latimer's big game hunter finds himself out of the frying pan and into the fire after a tribe of African natives in rhino masks try to sacrifice him because "Your presence has disturbed the spirit of the white rhinoceros!" when a bolt of lightning sends him back in time where Martine Beswick's evil white rhino worshipping Amazon queen and her tribe of `Dark Ones' (brunettes) enslaves all `Fair Ones' (blondes), who she forces to dance for her or sit on a statue of a rhino before being wed to the `Devils of Darkness,' and imprisons all men in a cavern of chains with Sydney Bromley...
There's no lost city or dinosaurs, but all the other lost world staples are there, from `savage rituals' that look more like bad floor shows at naff clubs (there are almost enough dance routines for it to qualify as a musical) to the obligatory slave revolt and intervention of Mother Nature in a bad mood (well, it rains and there's the odd bit of thunder), though they've rarely seemed quite so insane as in this: you have to wonder what writer-director and Hammer heir apparent Michael Carreras was on when he concocted this one. Even Hammer knew they were on a loser with this one, cutting it by 17 minutes, retitling it Slave Girls and barely releasing it in the UK. The dialogue is as delirious as the plot ("What makes you so cruel?" "Cruelty has made me cruel!" or "He hates you. Why?" "The man he used to hate died last week. He needs someone new.") but credit where it's due to Michael Reed's vivid comic strip widescreen color cinematography. You won't believe what you see or hear, but you'll never quite be able to forget it... especially when the `real' white rhino makes its dramatic appearance on castors in the finale!