Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

TEENAGE CAVEMAN

Robert Vaughn and Jonathan Haze
TEENAGE CAVEMAN (aka Teenage Cave Man/1958). Produced and directed by Roger Corman.

In what seems to be a prehistoric society, the young son (Robert Vaughn) of the symbol maker (Leslie Bradley) questions the laws of the society as embodied by the crusty "Black-Bearded One" (Frank DeKova). No one is permitted to cross the river into the forbidden territory, but Vaughn's curiosity gets the better of him and he discovers dinosaur-like creatures (courtesy of One Million B.C. and others) and a strange "god" in a kind of bear suit who has a death touch. Pursued by the others of his tribe, Vaughn learns the truth of the world that lies beyond his tiny village ... Anyone who has read Steven Vincent Benet's classic 1937 story "By the Waters of Babylon" will figure out the twist in this rip-off/variation of the tale, but on its own terms Teenage Caveman is more entertaining than it has any right to be. Vaughn gives a good, solid, dramatic performance and DeKova nearly steals the show in his turn as the dyspeptic guy who thinks anyone who breaks the law should be killed. The film casts Roger Corman's usual troupe of actors, including Jonathan Haze [The Little Shop of Horrors] as the "Curly-Haired Boy" and a spear-wielding Ed Nelson [Attack of the Crab Monsters]. Albert Glasser's typically brassy and effective score may be better than the picture deserves but it ably punctuates each scene in the film's short running time. Robert Vaughn went on to major success on TV's The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Teenage Caveman is similar to Creation of the Humanoids in that both films appear to be post-apocalyptic -- and they are -- but both turn out to take place in the distant past as well. A real film version of "By the Waters of Babylon" might have made a strikingly powerful film, but its ideas have been "borrowed" so often since its publication that it's unlikely it will ever receive an official filming, although a movie with just that title is listed as "in development" on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) website. Who knows?

Verdict: Vaughn and dinosaurs. **1/2. 

2 comments:

angelman66 said...

Robert Vaughan really was a heartthrob, wasn’t he? very cute!
- C

William said...

He certainly had his fans when he played Napoleon Solo, but David McCallum's Illya seemed to get more of the gals.