10,000 B.C.

One of the most boring movies ever made.
“We coulda been cool, like Beastmaster. How’d they make us boring?”

I love movies about cavemen, or pre-history. I don’t care how accurate they are- part of the fun is that there are things we still don’t know or understand, though I’m pretty sure 10,000 B.C. doesn’t contain a scintilla of historical accuracy other than that in that year, humans inhabited the earth, had spears, and hunted mammoths. Another numerical movie, 300, took huge liberties with history from its comic book source material, but made it work. Here everything sticks out like a sore thumb due to hamfisted directing, languid pacing, and idiotic plotting.
Meet D’elh, a nomadic hunter prophesied to be the John Connor of his hipster tribe, who sport goatees and dreadlocks. They hunt mammoths with nets, after making them stampede by jumping up and screaming at them. One day a tribe of “four-legged demons”- horsemen- kidnap half their tribe, including Del’s woman. He’s the only one who wants to give chase, so he heads out with 5 ethnically diverse and suspiciously clean buddies. We feel every minute as they chase the slavers from northern Europe to Egypt, picking up African tribesmen and a sabretooth kitty along the way. Then his ragtag band wages war on the pyramid-building empire using pointy sticks.
Now, this could all be a blast. I love stupid premises like “what if stone age nomads fought an empire in Egypt, who have swords and mammoths?” I loved Outlander (full review), which was essentially Vikings vs. Alien vs. Predator. That movie was actually longer than this one, with a smaller budget, by a fledgling director, and felt tightly paced, exciting, and new. 10,000 B.C. makes us follow Dell thousands of miles, set to horrible narration explaining stuff that we’re actually watching, to give us a 5 minute battle where a few handily thrown spears take down an immense empire. The writing is so terrible that we see Evolet, the woman the whole journey is based on, die and then revive, just to give us a happy ending.

Baaawkk! This one’s a toikey!

To use that metaphor, watching this movie is like being asleep during the good part of a “Happy Ending,” and waking up the next morning with your belly-mess cemented in your happy trail. The best parts are in the trailer- a fight with feathered velociraptors, a sabretooth deus ex machina, and some CG of mammoths building the pyramids. It doesn’t help that the CG movement is terrible- the mammoths don’t move like any elephant I’ve ever seen, the killer dodos remind us of Jurassic Park, and the sabretooth is gone faster than you can say “we blew our CG budget on the raptor fight.” Roland Emmerich is known for making polished turds, but now he’s managed to top The Day After Tomorrow– which while inane, was at least fun to look at- and that movie’s monster was cold air that you could escape by shutting a door. Don’t even waste space on the Tivo for this one. It’s a stinker.

Rating: Stinky

80s Trash of the Week: Yor, the Hunter from the Future

I’m the hunter of the future? No, Yor are! Thinking back on the 80s, it amazed me that I saw a commercial for this movie on television back then. Then again, I also saw an ad for The Evil Dead, which was sort of cool. With direct to DVD, those days are gone. At first glance it looks like yet another caveman movie about a guy named Yor, with a stone axe and a fur loincloth– but this time the producer had a bunch of Star Wars ripoff costumes left over from another project, so he became a Hunter from the FUTURE.

Reb Brown plays Yor. Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans will remember him from Space Mutiny, a delightfully horrible space opera with lasers, screaming, and a frightening lack of railings. Before he went on to such great things, Reb began humbly here as Yor, and previously in another lost ’80s turd called The Sword and the Sorcerer, also known as “that movie with the three-bladed sword that shoots blades at the bad dudes.” Reb began his career in the snake horror flick Ssssss! and peaked as Captain America in the TV movies in the ’70s. As Yor, he looks like a surfer dude who washed up in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and we meet him as he gingerly traipses down the mountainside. For a moment I thought he was one of the gay cavemen from Ringo Starr’s Caveman.

Yor just totally saved your asses, dude!

Nearby, an old man named Pag and a hot brunette in a fur bikini called Kala are hunting dinosaur babies, and run into their prey’s angry momma. Luckily for them, Yor the fiercely blond warrior just happens to be tiptoeing through the pterodactyls in the area, and beats the beast to a bloody pulp with his stone axe. He immediately begins drinking the blood of the fallen creature, to gain its strength, and he is good enough to share. Like Ralph Wiggum, Kala explains that its blood tastes like burning. They ask Yor where he hales from, and all he can say is “um, up that mountain?” For he knows not from whence he came.

We raid your villages for soap.

They go back to their village to feast on bronto burgers, where the primitive screwheads all marvel at Yor’s magnificent mop of blond hair, and his studly medallion. The leader tells him that he knows of another like him, a queen worshipped by the people of Fire. And before Yor can leave to go seek his destiny, they are attacked by a tribe of dusky ape-men. Kala and all the women are captured, so it is up to Yor to free them, lest they be subjected to ape-nookie. Pag grabs a crude bow and proves his mettle- that dinosaur blood must be like Viagra- by shooting many of the hairy interlopers. Yor ingeniously kills a giant bat– and uses its wings as a fucking hang glider– to invade the cave of the apemen. If the rest of the movie was that good, we’d have a cult classic like The Beastmaster on our hands. But alas, it never reaches that peak again. Once inside the villainous tribe’s cave, Yor rescues Kala and escapes by pulling rocks out of a dam inside, flooding out the apemen and probably killing all the other captured women. Oops!

Yor invents the hang glider from a dead bat

Poor Kala never gets a chance to thank him for saving her, despite her insistence. When they cross the desert to find the Queen of the Fire People, whose tribe looks like mummies rolled in dirt with giant marshmallow skewers as weapons, he’d rather get it on with his fellow Aryan, Roa. She’s quite the hottie, and they both have swingin’ ’70s medallions! But her people turn on her when he arrives, and he has to fight his way out with a flaming sword! Actually that was kind of cool. Kala is not pleased with this predicament, and tries to kill her. But the apemen show up again, and they kill Roa to save her the trouble. Before she dies, she tells him to go across the desert to the sea, to continue the quest of finding their origins.

Sadly little elfwina here has little screen time.

This time they trek to the hippie village, where once again Yor ingratiates himself by saving their asses from a dinosaur. They gift him with yet another cavegirl, this time an Asian girl. Come to think of it, Yor may actually be a porn movie with all the sex scenes removed for TV. The villagers show him a secret cave where they “killed a god from the sky” and the only remains are a headlight from an ’82 Chrysler. About five seconds later, some lasers come out of nowhere and blow up the village, causing Yor to smash the headlight- which is some sort of walkie talkie- and howl, “Stupid talking box! You are the cause of all this!”

Lasers? wtf dude! I’m a frickin caveman!

The survivors tell him of a mysterious island “always hidden by storms” from where the god from the sky and his “flying bird” may have come. So you guessed it, time to hop a boat and find the island. The island looks like the rest of Yor’s world, except as he’s sneaking around, he’s suddenly surrounded by black robots that look a lot like Darth Vader. He smashes one’s head off with a rock, but gets surrounded- which is not easy when the robots never actually move- and they shoot him with stun rays, and bring him to their leader, in their secret lair.

“Seize him!”

The androids are led by an evil bearded man in a cape named Overlord. Through him we learn that yes, they are on Earth, and they blew it up, you maniacs, damn you all to hell. Yor truly is a hunter from the future, and was one of the Rebels (sensing a pattern here?) who crashed while trying to overthrow Overlord, only to get convenient amnesia. All the other rebels are blond, too. For one time in history, the blond blue-eyed people aren’t trying to take over the planet! Needless to say, Yor kicks Overlord’s ass with some handy trapeze work and by stabbing him with what looks like a barber’s pole.

The daring young hunter from the future on the flying trapeze

Yor, The Hunter from the Future was one of many Italian low-budget movies in the ’80s that somehow made it to the American market. Another favorite of mine is The Warriors of the Wasteland, which was a Road Warrior ripoff, with exploding arrows and annoying kid. There’s always a kid in those movies; at least the Feral Child from Mad Max was unable to speak. He only communicated by throwing razor sharp boomerangs. Another good one is Super Fuzz with Terence Hill- the guy from the Trinity spaghetti westerns, and Ernest Borgnine as cops. Unfortunately, Yor is not up to that level. I can’t really give you any reason to watch it; it is completely devoid of boobies, and once the FUTURE shows up, it’s pretty lame. If they boobed it up and made it full of scenes like using severed giant bat wings as hang glider, we might have had something.

Beers Required to Enjoy: 3
Could it be remade today? I would love to see it.
Quotability Rating: Zero
Cheese Factor: Stinky Provolone
High Points: Batwing hang-glider, ahoy!
Low Point: the FUTURE!
Gratuitous Boobies: Devoid of boobie

Quest for Fire vs. Caveman

Is it possible to love both these movies? I know I do. Quest for Fire is an intellectual movie about early mankind, with no understandable dialogue and then unknown actors. Caveman has Ringo Starr throwing a dwarf into a giant pool of dinosaur ca-ca. They both came out in 1981, the same year that Mel Brooks made fun of cavemen in History of the World Part I. It was a good year to be a caveman, probably the best until Geico came along.
Quest for Fire is by Jean-Jacques Annaud, who also directed The Bear; he’s really good at films with little or no dialogue, and crafting a story without it. This story begins with a happy tribe of early man lazing around a fire after a feast, when they are attacked by a rival tribe of cannibalistic, and more primitive Neanderthals. They fight viciously, at one point driving a spear through the mouth of one of the marauders, but they lose and have to flee.
They take their fire with them but lose it, which can spell disaster, because they can’t make fire; they can only keep it and tend it. If you’ve ever tried to make a fire in the woods, you can sympathize with their plight.

Naoh, the leader, blows on an ember.

Three men are chosen to seek fire in the wilderness, whether to steal it from another tribe or find it naturally, and their adventure is the meat of the story. Ron Perlman is one of these nomads, and he’d appear later in Annaud’s adaptation of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, before he rose to stardom as that cat dude in Beauty and the Beast, and of course Hellboy. The movie is an intelligent version of 10,000 B.C.– there are sabretooth tigers, mammoths, tribes that are more advanced and tribes that are more brutish, rituals and discoveries, and Roland Emmerich isn’t there to make it stupid.

Sabre-tooth Ron Perlman

When they run into a pride of sabretooths, they climb a tree where they are stuck for days. The effects are really good for the time- they’re just lions with long teeth attached, but they sure look scary enough.
Later, when they are caught between a grazing mammoth herd and a tribe of Neanderthals, the leader crawls up and offers a mammoth a handful of grass, befriending it, so they are defended. That sounds really silly, but it works when you watch it. It’s a hell of a lot more likely than befriending a sabretooth.
They also come upon two mud-painted people tied to stakes by the Neanderthals- one of whom is missing an arm. I guess that’s the best way to keep meat fresh back in those days. They rescue them, and get a friend for life in Rae Dawn Chong, in an early role. The leader gets wounded in the crotch killing a Neanderthal, and she helpfully applies salve. She’s probably what those of us who were 12 when it came out remember best- she’s topless or nude for the entirety of the film, except for her tribal make-up. She’s also more advanced culturally than our caveman pals, speaking a language that neither they or we understand, but is definitely more familiar than the grunts they speak (Desmond Morris helped craft the languages).

Ancient refrigerator

There are more run-ins with cave bears, Neanderthals and other tribes who want to steal their fire; they also meet Rae Dawn’s tribe, who live on the mud flats around a swampland and seem to have a fertility cult going on. A big laugh for us at age twelve was when they cage our protagonist with one of their fertile Rubenesque maidens, and when he’s done he looks out and sees 4 more lined up. The film is full of funny little touches that usually make some sort of sense. Her tribe is all gangly and he is strong, so they want him for their string children. She escapes with him, since she has other plans for her man.
She introduces them to advances like spear-throwers (atlatls, actually), laughter, and the missionary position, in a very funny scene. Our leader finds himself growing attached to his new mate, instead of humping whatever ass popped up at the water hole. She decides to stay with him, as they bring fire back to his tribe. After nearly 2 hours of no talking, you find yourself riveted to the screen. There’s a fine mix of humor and action, and nothing breaks the spell- it’s a dirty, brutish life, and while a complete fantasy, it becomes utterly believable. In the tiny genre of movies set in prehistory, it’s got to be the most authentic and enjoyable. It’s certainly different, but I consider it a minor classic. I suppose I ought to compare it to Clan of the Cave Bear someday, but I try to only review good bad movies.


How I adore 80’s tagline humor.

And then you have Caveman with Ringo Starr, in his first major role since Help!. He plays Atouk, a lowly caveman in his tribe, a lone thinker in a group run by Tonda, a big goon. He pines for Lana, played by Barbara Bach, and who wouldn’t? She’s spilling out of a fur bikini the whole film. They also have their own language, but all I can remember is that Atouk wants to zug-zug Lana, so you can figure out what it means. The humor is mostly of the idiotic pee-pee poo-poo variety, but it’s still hilarious in an extremely campy way.

I’d zug-zug her too.

Atouk gets banished by Tonda after trying to zug-zug Lana, along with his pal Lar (Dennis Quaid, who gets to demonstrate the difficulties of peeing during the Ice Age, at one point) and the rest of the outcasts. These include a blind old man with a cane, a dwarf, a gay couple, an Asian dude, and a flat-chested cavewoman unfit for breeding (Shelley Long). The Asian guy speaks English, to explain the caveman words to the audience, proving that the Geico cavemen are more advanced than the average moviegoer.

They have many humorous adventures along the way. They topple a giant pterodactyl’s egg into a volcanic geyser and make a giant poached egg. They think they lose the dwarf in a giant pool of dinosaur shit, and dig through it looking for him. When he comes from behind a boulder after taking a piss, they throw him into it, and give us the immortal quote “Doo-doo! Ca-ca. Shit.”

They run into an abominable snowman in an ice cave who chases them around. My favorite is when the blind man stumbles on a huge dinosaur, and thinks it’s a tree. He does the usual blind man pantomime of feeling around for what he bumped into, and the dinosaur likes it quite a bit… get it, he’s rubbing dino dong! Then he whacks it with his cane in the dino-nuts, causing it to attack our little band of cave-dorks.

Blind man vs. T.Rex balls.
They also have a giant iguana after them. Atouk shows his brains, by feeding the beast some goofy berries that make you high. Previously he proved his superiority by cracking his back and standing upright, inventing music, and using fire to burn the asses of his enemies. Including one who runs away farting, which is especially funny when you’re 12.

Lighting farts came soon after the use of fire.
I may sound condescending, but it’s actually pretty hilarious to watch. The cast is really good and get into the act, defiling their every shred of dignity for our entertainment. By the end, when Atouk defeats Tonda and gets Lana, you’re actually rooting for Shelley Long when she pushes the busty babe into bronto bull-caca. There’s something wrong with that. Even Ringo married Lana and he’s still giving her the zug-zug, as far as I know.

With both these fine movies out there to entertain us, who needs Emmerich? It’s just a rehash of Stargate anyway, with pyramids and an ambiguously sexed tyrant. He hasn’t made a good movie since Independence Day, and that was just a remake of War of the Worlds. If you didn’t get enough disasterage in The Day After the Day Before Yesterday, he’s making a movie about the end of the Mayan calendar that includes volcanoes and such, because it ends in 2012. I wonder if he gets terrified when he finds out his Date Planner only goes to January 2009.

For the record, Rae Dawn Chong can apply salve to me anytime.