aka Man and his Mate (UK), Battle of the Giants, The Cave Dwellers (minus the framing sequence), and Cave man.
Writers:Michell Novack, George Baker, Joseph Frickert. Grover Jones wrote the framing narration.
Directors: Hal Roach, Hal Roach Jr., D.W. Griffith (uncredited, but the aging film pioneer is known to have been involved, placing this production among his last films).
Lon Chaney, Jr.....Akhoba
Some film nerd1 coined the term "Slurpasaurus" to designate a commonplace animal, typically a pet store lizard, that plays the part of a dinosaur or dinosaurian monster in a drive-in theatre movie. The term derives from the fact that small lizards often have long, flickery tongues, which seem especially prominent and potentially slurpy when the beastie is shown in extreme close-up, moving in slow-motion under hot studio lights. While films such as The Giant Gila Monster show their creatures au naturel, the more common slurpasaur sports large rubber fins, plastic horns, or other monstrous appendages.
Slurpasauri have been known to upset the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a fact which drove them out of mainstream movies. Consequently, the vast majority of slurp footage comes from a single film: 1940’s One Million BC. This cave-man classic made several marks on cinematic history: it featured Lon Chaney, Jr. in a non-wolf-related hairy role, showed off the talents and impossibly-kept coiffures of cave-dwellers Victor Mature and Carole Landis, and it represents a collaboration between both Hal Roaches, senior and junior, and D.W. Griffiths. But it also provided the motherlode of slurpasaurian stock for a generation of cheap filmmakers. You may never have seen this movie, but if you’ve watched blown-up, slo-mo’d lizards with fins glued on them battle it out in valiant attempts to convince the audience they are dinosaurs, then you’ve likely seen highlights from One Million BC.
The picture is worth a view. It has a certain period charm that the more famous Raquel Welch remake lacks— although that 1967 film boasts superior special effects.
The story: an anthropologist-type welcomes a group of hikers out of a storm and into the shelter of the cave where he has been interpreting primitive paintings. He tells stories from the paintings, and we flashback to Hollywood's Primeval World, shared by primitive humans, prehistoric mammals, dinosaurs, and the inevitable volcano. In this film, at least, the fantastic elements could be explained as the hikers' imaginings. Certainly, their tour guide shows remarkable imagination in interpreting quite so detailed a story from a few cave paintings. In any case, the story unfolds, and the same actors who appear in the framing device play the key troglodytes.
Our principal primate, Tumok, exiled from the savage Rock Tribe, is adopted into the more civilized Shell Tribe, where he falls for beautiful Loana. Gradually, Tumok learns how to be civil, but tensions mount between the two groups. If human conflicts weren't enough, the prehistoric creatures cause endless trouble, and you just know that obligatory volcano will be erupting sometime before the final credits. Nevetheless, we feel assured that, whatever the fate of this specific group, people like the Shell Tribe paved the way for western civilization and the mass extinction of slurpasaurs.
We get loads of slurpasaurs-- lizards, baby alligators, and even armadillos-- moving menacingly around model sets and locking jaws in forced battle. We also get other animals, too. A musk ox makes an appearance. Dressed-up Indian elephants play mammoths. (Domestic mammals can, apparently, adjust to "dress up and play" without experiencing serious trauma, so that technique has been reused, for mammoths in Quest for Fire and banthas in the original Star Wars).
These effects sequences proved popular. They also proved difficult to duplicate, because of pressure on the studios to avoid cruely to animals.2 Consequently, One Million BC provided the studio with a modest cash cow: slurpasaurs by the yard. And so the footage reappears in (to name a few): Tarzan's Desert Mystery (1943), Two Lost Worlds (1950), Tarzan's Jungle Manhunt (1951), Untamed Women (1952), Robot Monster (1953), King Dinosaur (1954), Teenage Caveman (1958), Valley of the Dragons (1961), Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970) and in 1950s and 1960s television shows such as Ramar of the Jungle, Jungle Jim, and The Time Tunnel.
I can think of many reasons to see One Million BC. It pretty much defines old Hollywood's idea of a "cave man picture." It provides a good look at Carole Landis, one of the era's most overlooked (and ultimately tragic) figures.
Or you can do it for the slurpasaurs. For this is their finest hour.
1.The word appears to be fairly recent. If anyone knows who might have coined it, please let me know.
2.This is not to say that the practice ended altogether. The 1960 version of The Lost World, for example, used fresh slurp creations.