A group of hikers are scaling a mountain when a rainstorm opens up. The group takes refuge in a cave. Inside the cave is a man (Conrad Nagel) in front of a wall filled with cave drawings. The hiking guide asks the man about the drawings. The man invites them in and tells them the story of the cave drawings. The story of two tribes.

The Rock People are a tribe that is led by a strong leader called Akhoba (Lon Chaney Jr.). The tribe survives by opting for the belief, “survival of the fittest”. It is almost an every man for himself attitude. The strongest man leads the tribe and when it comes to food the adult men eat first, then women and children and lastly the sick and infirm. Akhoba’s son Tumak (Victor Mature) has made his first kill for the tribe. A fight with Tumak over food causes Akhoba to expel him from the clan.

Tumak gets chased by a wooly mammoth and falls over a cliff into a river. The current carries him down stream into the territory of the Shell people. He is found by Loana (Carole Landis). She is the daughter of the leader of the Shell People. They are a more civilized tribe that takes care of their young and sick members. They are a communal tribe where everyone contributes to the whole.

Loana nurses Tumak back to health. While he is with the Shell People, Tumak learns how the tribe functions and begins to understand its communal rules as well as some farming and fishing. A fight with another tribe member over a spear causes the commune to expel Tumak. Loana decides to go with him. With nowhere else to go Tumak returns to the Rock People, with Loana in tow.

Since Tumak left, his father incurred a severe injury and is no longer leader of the Rock People. When Tumak returns the new leader is also injured. Tumak takes over the tribe and with Loana begins showing the Rock People the advantages of working together. When a volcano erupts, Tumak’s lessons are put to the test.

“One Million BC” was released in 1940 and was directed by Hal Roach and Hal Roach Jr. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards. One for special effects and one for musical score. The cinematography is amazing. The optically enlarged back screening is better than a lot of the movies done since then. Even though controversy over the dinosaur sequences is still debated, the movie is a staple of the dinosaur genre. Its historic significance cannot be denied. Is the movie good? Well, it is what it is. There may be no plot but the action makes up for that. It was stellar for 1940. It is a guilty pleasure for many and a horror story for reptiles.

The "dinosaurs" seen in the film include a pig in a rubber Triceratops suit, a man in an Allosaurus suit, elephants with fake tusks and fur, an armadillo with glued-on horns, a baby alligator with a glued-on Dimetrodon sail, a rhinoceros iguana, a snake, a coati, a monitor lizard and an Argentine black and white tegu. Footage from the movie as well as outtakes and unused footage were put into the stock footage library. Although these lizards are long dead, they still live on in just about every low budget dinosaur movie made since 1940. Even some westerns used footage from rock slides and the volcano eruption. Also, some Mexican films used footage.

A sample of the films that used footage from the movie are: “Tarzan's Desert Mystery” (1943), “Superman” serial (1948), “Atom Man vs. Superman” serial (1950), “Two Lost Worlds” (1950), the American version of “Godzilla Raids Again” (1959), “Jungle Manhunt” (1951) “Smoky Canyon” (1952), “Untamed Women” (1952), “Robot Monster” (1953), “The Lost Planet” (serial) (1953), “King Dinosaur” (1955), “Three Stooges' Space Ship Sappy” (1957), “Teenage Cave Man” (1958), She Demons” (1958), “Valley of the Dragons” (1961), “Journey to the Center of Time” (1967), “Horror of the Blood Monsters” (1970), “Island of the Dinosaurs” 1967 (Mexican), “The Ghost Jesters” (1964) (Mexican), and “Adventure at the Center of the Earth (1965) (Mexican).

There are several scenes in which various reptiles are forced to fight. One particular scene of animal cruelty is when a dwarf or baby alligator with stuff glued to it is made to fight against a tegu lizard. The lizard is severely injured. The film caused the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to ban many of the animal treatments that occurred during the production. When the film was released in Britain, it was heavily edited due to their strict laws against animal cruelty.

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