|Vintage Pulp||Jan 25 2011|
One thing you can say about Hammer Studios is that they’ve always been opportunistic. After the success of their 1966 Raquel Welch adventure One Million Years, B.C. the big brains in the front office decided to double down on sexed-up whitewashed primitivism. This time they tapped British hottie Martine Beswick, who had co-starred in B.C., to headline a new lost world production called Slave Girls, aka Prehistoric Women. It’s the tale of a great white hunter in Africa who’s projected into a parallel dimension and finds himself in the middle of a struggle between a cruel queen and her downtrodden subjects. Add to this mix the obligatory Raquel Welch-style fur bikinis, a hundred gallons of skin bronzer, a few “tribal” dance numbers, a heavy dose of blood curses, and a sprinkling of animist mythology and you’ve got yourself a movie.
As tempting as it is to say the results are bad, it just wouldn’t be true. Slave Girls works, more or less, despite the limitations of being shot entirely on a British back lot. Beswick really chews the plastic scenery to pieces. She preens, poses, snarls, shrieks, flares her lovely nostrils and flaunts her six-pack—and that’s just during her dance number. When allowed to speak she tosses off some memorable lines. To the great white hunter: “You see! Already you want to impose your will! You want to dominate me!” And in the next instant (parenthetically hinting at an emotional wound in her past): “I’d be a fool to let any man do that again.” Aww, she has a heart after all—it’s been broken is the problem. But then she’s back to evil queen mode: “But you will want me. And on my terms!” Well, she’s right about that. You will want her—on any terms. Slave Girls, with Beswick, Edina Ronay and Michael Latimer, premiered in the U.S. today in 1967.