Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

WHEN DINOSAURS RULEDTHE EARTH (1969/1971)



Notes: Hammer Films Production Ltd./Warner Bros.

Sanna: Victoria Vetri (former Playboy Playmateof the Year)
Tara: Robin Hawdon
Also starring Patrick Allen, Drewe Henley,Sean Caffrey, Magda Konopka, Imogen Hassall.

Producer: Aida Young
Director: Val Guest
Writer: Val Guest
Cinematographer:
Costume Designer: Carl Toms
Music: Mario Nascimbene
Special Effects: Jim Danforth


Summary: Get this! (and insert sanctimonious pauses). “A time ofbeginnings, of darkness, of light, of the sun, the earth, thesea, of man! The beginnings of man living with man, by the sea,in the mountains. The beginning of love, hate, and fear. Man’sfear of the unknown. Man’s fear lest the sun should leave him,leave him alone in everlasting darkness. A time when the colorof a woman’s hair condemned her to sacrifice to the sun. A timewhen there was as yet no moon.”

A tribe is ritually sacrificing blondes tothe sun. Men wear lizard heads. An inexplicable wind createsenough chaos for one blond, Sanna, to escape into the sea, whereshe is rescued by our hero Tara, but word reaches the tribal leaderthat she has lived.

Obviously dinosaurs do not rule the world,because when we get to Tara’s seaside tribe, a plesiosaur is roped,and, although it escapes temporarily, it is recaptured and burnedto death. At the feast afterwards, a brunette does the jerk. She is interested in Tara, but he is fascinated with Sanna whohas set up a hut. He brings her food. After a “chick fight”in the water (“Necro!” “Akita! Akita!” “Necro!”),Sanna’s former tribe arrives, looking for her. She flees andis followed by pursuers. Hiding in a tree, a boa winds aroundher but attacks and kills one of the men, whom the three othermen can’t help. They think Sanna is in a nearby cave, but a triceratopsattacks instead, wounding the men. Harpie-like vultures, notcontent as scavengers, actually squawk and take swipes at thewounded. When Tara seeks Sanna, he finds the one man dead and,after the triceratops charges and runs off a cliff, rescues theothers.

A Beowulvian funeral pyre at sea is followedby a tribal frenzy during which Sanna’s hut gets burned and peopleorgiastically scream “Necro!” Tara runs away. Sannameanwhile has faced a vicious Slurpasaurus [as in The LostWorld (1960), a long-tongued lizard with plates glued on itsbody] and is nearly eaten by a plant. She cuts off her hair toescape the plant’s evil jaws (? whatever). Tara finds this evidencethat she is chlorophyll fodder.

Sanna sleeps in a large dinosaur eggshell. The other egg hatches and the dinosaur imprints. The parent,thinking Sanna has hatched, brings her a deer carcass. Sannaplays with her new sibling. She dives and catches fish in herteeth. She finds her dinosaur involved in a fight with a fewmen, and she call off the dino.

After an incident involving Tara vs. a pterodon,he and Sanna reunite and go to her cave, witnessed by a lookout. When Tara returns to the tribe, he is challenged, tied to a raft,and set to sea with the raft burning. A sea monster knocks overthe raft; Tara escapes and staggers back to Sanna. But the tribeis still searching for Sanna, and see smoke from her fire. Thetwo run, swim, climb, and witness some stock footage of dinosaurfights, but are captured. Sanna’s dino sib rescues her, but Tarathey prepare to burn again. A giant crab kills a few men as theweather grows ominous again. The moon seems to be forming, anda tidal wave looms. Sanna arrives to save Tara from the giantcrab, and a raft escape begins to take shape. The tribal leadertries commanding the water to heel. That brunette “jerk”woman gets sucked into quicksand, and the leader is unsuccessfulin his negotiations with water.

Sanna and Tara and two other people survive(although it’s still inevitably going to be incest in two or threegenerations). We all witness an eclipse, so now a moon exists. I think this is supposed to be meaningful. The four kneel andwe are assaulted with glorious hymn-like blastings.


Commentary: One Million Years B.C. was bad enough in retarding literacy,but this one inflicts us with interminable rantings of “Akita!Akita!”

Reportedly, an allosaur or tyrannosaur wasplanned for the film, but the film’s producer “was offendedby such dinosaurs because they reminded her of the pose adoptedby blatant homosexuals!”

The insistence on blondes being persecutedis an interesting theme in this film, somewhat in One MillionYears B.C., and in the Clan of the Cave Bear. Whatis this all about? Combined with the Shell Tribe / Rock Tribedynamics (that is, the seaside people vs. the mountain invaders,also in One Million Years B.C.), is this some kind of self-pityingCalifornian vision?