Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Teenage Caveman

TEENAGE CAVEMAN

(1958)



PreCommentary: The following summary contains bracketed asides from the MysteryScience Theater 3000 treatment of the film (#315, with shortfilms “Aquatic Wizards” and “Catching Trouble”).

Notes:American International. 65 minutes.
The Boy: Robert Vaughn (later on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) supposedly in his film debut
The Maiden: Darah Marshall
The Symbol Maker: Leslie Bradley
The Villain: Frank De Kova, later on F-Troop
Tribe Members: Charles Thompson, Joseph Hamilton, Marshall Bradford, June Jocelyn, Jonathan Haze, Robert Shayne, Beach Dickerson.

Produced and Directed: Roger Corman
Executive Producers: James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff
Screenplay: R. Wright Campbell
Music: Albert Glasser


Summary: Genesis 1 paraphrasing accompanies nebulous black-and-white cosmiccreation. [Joel: “Fantasia before they colorizedit.”] “And then came man!”

After the credits, the scene opens with cavemencarting a slain deer. [Joel: “Another Pleasant Valley Sunday.”] During the hunt, though, “boy” broke the forbiddenlaw and went beyond the river. His father, the “Symbol Maker,”speaks to him, but “boy” sees rich hunting ground beyondthe river, and we see some brontos in a lake. Cavedad warns ofthe “thing that gives death with its touch.” [Crow:”Caveman Without a Cause.”]

Caveteen questions the “keepers of thegifts of the gods”: one tends a small fire, another spinsa wheel, the third builds and breaks. On a hunt [Tom: “Ohlook, it’s a bathroom rug crawling towards us.”], a bearwounds the Symbol Maker [and he is taken to an “intensivecare cave]. Evil Frank De Kova tries to get caveboy fired upabout transgressing the law heroically, and then double-checksto make sure that this means Death!

Teenage caveman tries to rally his peers, butonly three join him into the forbidden territory, where they seestock footage from One Million B.C. (1940)–particularlythe lizard battle. When one of the four is sucked into a poolof water, the two other enlistees return home. Teenage cavemankills a squirrel with a rock and sees some more stock footageincluding the armadillo from One Million B.C. A strangecreature appears [Joel: “Something goofy this way comes.”]and the boy runs away and smack into a tree, knocking himselfout.

Back home, wounded dad finds out about thetransgression and takes off after him. Meanwhile, caveboy hasawoken and invents the bow. He kills a deer, but wild domesticdogs atttack. Dad arrives in time to kill a dog.

Home again, “the son of the Symbol Makermust die!” Frank and caveboy fight, and the old chief determinesthat as punishment, no one “is to give voice” to caveteen–thatis, no one can speak to him, which is fine with him because heinvented the pan pipes while out and about. A girl naked in thewater gives him voice, nevertheless. Then a horseman appears,is declared evil by Frank since they’ve never seen a person onan animal and besides he comes from “beyond the burning plain,”so they stone him to death despite caveteen’s reasonings. Thedying man’s last word is “Peace” before he is spearedby Frank.

Caveteen’s coming of age ceremony now takesplace [although, as Tom Servo says, he’s 37]. The symbols ofthe gods are revealed: a metal ball. More tension between teenand Frank follows, and cavegirl proposes domesticity and a “sleepingplace.”

[Crow: “This is why the dinosaurs diedoff–you bored ’em to death!”] Restless teencaveboy37 takesoff again, followed by dad and a hunting party led by Frank. When caveteen encounters the goofy monster thing again [whichTom aptly calls an “anteater pinata”], all others catchup, as do those attacking dogs. In the chaos, Frank climbs atree and throws a rock down on the monster while caveteen declaresit is “no evil thing.” Teen shoots Frank finally withan arrow. Soon, we are assured, there will be new laws.

The thing turns out to have been a man insidea suit of some kind. Caveteen looks through 20th-century photoslabelled “The Atomic Era,” and we hear the dead man’snarration: that he “and a party of 23 others” survived”when the bombs went off” and global atomic war brokeout. Mutations brought about the dinosaurs (more stock footage),and so taboos were established. Their unnaturally prolonged livesoccasionally brought them in contact with the new race of cavepeople. The radiation gradually wore away. Perhaps man will try again. “Will any survive . . . or will it be The End?”


Commentary: So once again, post-apocalyptic = prehistoric. Hmph. A goodidea, presumably, but Crow was right and this is deadly dull fare.