Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Women of the Prehistoric Planet


PreCommentary: Is the video box being ironic in calling this “the mostspectacular and exciting science fiction film ever released onApril 15, 1966!”?

Notes: RealArt. A Jack Broder Production. 91 minutes.
Commander King: Wendell Corey
Also starring Keith Larson, John Agar, MerryAnders, Stuart Margolin, Irene Tsu.

Produced: George Edwards
Directed: Arthur C. Pierce
Written: Arthur C. Pierce
Special Effects: Howard A. Anderson.

Summary: Star Trek lingo regarding “deep space” and travel”without incident” introduces Admiral King whose 6-yearspace mission among the Centaurians on Centaurus seems completed,but for a lot of blab about the relativity of time. A mutinyof two Centaurians aboard another ship, the Cosmos 3, forces thatwessel into the magnetic field of a planet in another solar system:Solaris, where “gas clouds” are a worry.

Cosmos 3 crash lands on this planet, with LieutenantBradley (an paunchy ass who thinks he’s funny), a bunch of otheridiots, Zanda (a Centaurian), and Lieutenant Sally something,who is hurt and blames Zanda’s ilk for all that is wrong withthis universe: “If it weren’t for you and your kind! . .. You’re all alike; you take everything from us and you givenothing!” Zanda’s mutinist brother attacks again, but Zandaproves her loyalty by killing him (regular guns here, no “spacerays”). One guy decides we’ll all be safer in the foothills. They can live here; “if we just trust each other,”Zanda adds.

The problem is this time relativity thing. Admiral King disobeys this film’s version of Starfleet Commandand undertakes a rescue mission, but their three months to getto Solaris equals 18 years on the planet. Besides, saysKing, telegraphically: “young planet–primitive–treacherous. You can’t trust young planets. . . . They’re usually infestedwith living things completely unknown to us.” Living onthe planet he diagnoses as being mostly a matter of “combattingthe elements” and “defending” themselves againstbeasts.

They land and send out a party of five intoan atmosphere described as an “inferno.” More belaboredtime relativity explanations are followed by a giant lizard ona rock who is summarily engulfed in flames and killed. “Theway they grow lizards around here, I’d hate to run into a snake!”

Things get confusing. Linda is the Admiral’shalf-breed daughter, but doesn’t know it. She swims naked whilebirds squawk. As she dresses, a snake threatens. She faintsand an unknown hand shoots a crossbow at the snake, killing it. Linda is taken off.

Among the party, Mr. Bradley goes into an unbearablestand-up shtick. Linda wakes up to meet Tang, a caveman, no asecond generation Centaurian, so there were survivors 18 yearsago. Tang shows us the original crash landers frozen upright. Back among the search party, idiots shoot a snake and one guyharasses Mr. Scott with the fact that Zanda married LiuetenantAnderson! Face it! (Tang’s speed-aged frozen parents?)

“Whew, what a smell!” The partymust cross a bubbling stinkhole (since the fact that they couldeasily walk around it doesn’t occur to them) so they set up arope and the last guy falls in. “Chief” (the beady-eyedStuart Margolin of Love, American Style) is upset. Theremaining four find the ruins of the Cosmos 3, and “Chief”ends up with a vicious poisonous thing on the back of his neckwhich kills him but gets blasted by the others.

Linda is in a leopard sarong. Tang bringsher Centaurian dresses and tells her that the planet contains”savages who hate and kill.” “If you live herealone, who undressed me?” He says he did. She slaps him. He slaps her. They make up and kiss.

Wendell Corey is stinking drunk now, luckybum, so Admiral King is slurring his words so badly that it’sanybody’s guess what’s happening. “We might be on the trailof the very man who murdered Captain Ross.” (Who?)

Tang and Linda are at their special water place. Tang no use tenses, no use articles consistently; possessivepronouns hard for Tang. He introduces his chimp friend, Tiko. “Linda like Tang?” “Linda love Tang.” (Allastronauts do.) Tang jealous of former shipmates. Cute waterplay. Cavemen come. Throw spears. Idiots finally come. TakeLinda. Shoot Tang in arm. Tang run far.

With Linda back and some volcanic worries,the Commander wants to “prepare ship for take-off.” With news of Tang’s trail ending at the brink of a cliff, Lindascreams, “I hate you. I hate all of you!” She runsout. The Admiral admits she’s his daughter and must rescue her. But he comes back and the ship launches.

Linda and Tang have another reunion at specialwater place. Those aboard ship realize that “Linda and theboy are alive.” “They’ll be happy here. . . . They’llcreate a new world.” (In other words, they’ll breed, whichis not creating a new world, it’s destroying the old one.) Wefinally decide to dub this planet of Solaris the blue planet,”Planet Earth.” And indeed, as we pull back, it isEarth! So all along I thought . . . oh I see. . . . But wait,if . . . oh never mind.

Commentary: Something’s wrong. Where is the promised “planetscape fullof beautiful scantily-clad space chicks”? Was I gettingpopcorn? Or does this have something to do with the fact thatthe tape claims a running time of 91 minutes and the box says87 minutes?

The plot is impossible to follow because thereare too many characters and too many pockets of characters allwith bland interchangeable names: Captain Farrell, Mr. Scott,Sergeant Allen, Captain Ross, Lieutenant Bradley, etc. Gruntshave names like “Chief” and characters seem to havevarious titles too (e.g., Admiral King, a.k.a. Commander King).

“Dinosaurs” amount to one lizardfor a few seconds. What finally really doesn’t make sense ishow this is supposed to be prehistoric Earth, so apparently weare all great-great-offspring of AdamTang and EveLinda, or maybethose cavemen. So therefore we have Centaurian and native bloodand this accounts for our supposed dual Jekyll/Hyde natures? And where were all those other idiots from? They sure seemedlike Earth-asses from the ’60s.

Best line [perhaps the source for a similarmoment in Planet of Dinosaurs (1978)]: “Whew, whata smell!”