Friday, January 30, 2009

Mission Statement.

What Are You Doing Here?

The plan is to post regular reviews of various caveman films produced throughout the ages, thus producing a systematic and comprehensive overview of the genre in toto. I imagine that the reviews will average once per week in regularity, but given that I am a notoriously inconstant character it is more than probable that I will increase or decrease the frequency of my posting with a complete disregard for the interests of any readers.

How Exactly Do You Define A "Caveman Film"? It Seems A Bit Vague.

Well it is actually a bit vague, yes. There are a number of problems with this sort of list, the most obvious of which is 1) what exactly counts as a caveman? and 2) where and when must they be located and with what intensity for the film to qualify as a "caveman picture"? Well as to the first, I have decided that I probably won't count Italian cannibal films, or films about modern day "primitives" in general. Even though I suppose that the lifestyle of a bunch of modern tribesmen probably isn't all that different from what a caveman would have gone through, it's quite clearly not the sort of thing that people think of when they hear the word "caveman". Caveman implies a little distance from reality, I feel. It also implies a cave. This is also why I have decided that I probably will count movies about lost colonies of primitive Amazons, as they have absolutely no bearing in real life (if located outside of ancient Eastern Europe, anyway) and it allows me to review Fantasy Mission Force at some point. The main proviso is that the cavefolk preferably not use any technology more advanced than a bow and arrow.

As to the second point - both the where and the when and the just how much - I suppose that, as long as they look scraggy enough, and aren't just a throw-away gag, it's a free for all in terms of time and place. This encompasses "caveman of the future" post-historical films such as Teenage Caveman and Yor, The Hunter from the Future, as well as more traditional prehistoric fare like Clan of the Cave Bear. Again, this is just an excuse for me to be allowed to review Fantasy Mission Force at some point, but I don't really care. Does this mean that Planet of the Apes can somehow be interpreted to count as a caveman film? What about 2001: A Space Odyssey? To be honest, we'll just have to wait and see.

The can of worms that is lost world pictures is something that will probably remain unopened, since thankfully most of such films seem to include at least one monkey man in the proceedings. I suppose, thinking about it, that caveman-free films set in a prehistoric era might count, but anyone expecting reviews of The Valley of Gwangi is going to be sorely disappointed by the end of this thing.

Ultimately, I'm just gonna wing it.

Why Caveman Films?

One day, many years ago, when men were men and women were something somewhat more than women, I stayed home from school for no good reason at all and caught One Million Years BC on television. I was hooked! The Grandure! The Spectacle! This, my friends, was the greatest film since Dune!

Or maybe not.

In any case, some people have the capacity for enjoyment of a thing wired into them. Myself, I didn't really grow out of dinosaurs until I was almost twenty. It was a mania, although not of the type that ever led me to be dumb enough as to think that I could find being a paleontologist interesting. Now, of course, I can barely spell "parasaurolophus", but during my late teens I went through a period of devouring everything from Walking with Beasts to Edgar Rice Burrough's extremely silly but highly entertaining Caspak series, and it's left me with an enduring fondness for prehistoric shenanigans.

It's that "silly but highly entertaining" quality, actually, that really sums-up why I'm doing this. I'm long past the stage of considering Battlefield Earth high art, and I'll freely admit that I've yet to see a caveman film I'd describe as better than fair (N.B. I'm also yet to see Quest for Fire), but at the same time there's a great source of fascination to be had for me in the idea of the movie caveman. Yes, in real life prehistoric man spent his life wandering around on tundras spearing elks, but that is boring. Give me action! Give me excitement! Give me a giant stop-motion turtle menacing John Richardson! I may not have seen all caveman films, or even particularly many, but damn it if I don't have a half-hearted desire to rectify that.

And so it is with a spring in my step that I wander out across the rippling veldt of filmdom, eager to see where my feet (and wallet) take me in my quest to see as many caveman films as I can before I lose interest and start writing Lovecraft pastiches again.


  1. You are a brave, brave man if you intend to watch every caveman movie you can find.

  2. so will we be seeing history of the world part 1?

  3. Matt: Brave, or just stupid? In any case, it always pays to be thorough.

    Chris: Yes we will! I have compiled a spreadsheet listing every film I could find that contains cavemen in some significant proportion, and it seems there's about 100 all up, although I'm sure I've missed a few. I figure one hundred films across the course of a year or so isn't that great a strain on a man's psyche.