Prehistoric Women
UK DVD cover
Directed byMichael Carreras
Written byHenry Younger
Produced byMichael Carreras
StarringMartine Beswick
Michael Latimer
Carol White
Steven Berkoff
CinematographyMichael Reed
Edited byRoy Hyde
Music byCarlo Martelli
Distributed byWarner-Pathé Distributors
Release dates
  • 25 January 1967 (1967-01-25)
  • 20 July 1968 (1968-07-20)
Running time
91 minutes (US)
74 minutes (UK)
CountryUnited Kingdom

Prehistoric Women is a British fantasy adventure film directed by Michael Carreras, starring Martine Beswick and Michael Latimer.[2] It was first released in the US in 1967, and released in the UK 18 months later under the title Slave Girls, where it was trimmed by 17 minutes and played as the supporting feature to The Devil Rides Out (1968).


British explorer David Marchant, Colonel Hammond and a guide are pursuing a wounded leopard on an African safari. David decides to find the beast and put it out of its misery before nightfall.

Walking some way, he passes various trees with a picture of a white rhino, but ignores them. The leopard attacks him and he shoots it dead, whereupon David is ambushed and captured by a primitive tribe. They accuse him of disturbing the spirit of the white rhinoceros and take him to their leader's temple. As the high priest makes his decision, David notices a large, ancient stone statue of a white rhino and realises this is what the tribe worship. Interested, David reaches out to touch it. Just as he is about to be killed for his trespassing and disturbing the spirits, David touches the statue and there is a flash of lightning that opens a giant crack in the cave wall. David flees through it.

David finds himself in a lush paradise jungle within a large valley. He hears a noise, and encounters a terrified fair-haired woman. David tries to help her, but the woman runs off. David follows her, but they are both attacked by dark-haired women. David is escorted with them to their village, while the fair-haired woman is bound and taken with them. As they reach the outskirts, David is astounded to discover another white rhino statue.

Entering the settlement, David finds that the fair-haired women serve the dark-haired women, who themselves are ruled by the beautiful, dark-haired Queen Kari, who immediately takes an interest in David and chooses him as her mate, but he is appalled by her cruelty and spurns her advances. Angered, Kari orders her guards to throw David into a windowless cell. Coming to his senses, David finds the same woman he encountered earlier, revealing her name as Saria. When David asks if Saria's people have ever fought back, she replies that Kari is protected by the Devils, the guardians shielding the people from the "cruel world outside". In return, one of the fair-haired women must be taken as a thanksgiving for protection.

David is moved to where the other men are, in a cave and now living in fear of Kari. At mealtime, an elder tells David of how it all began; their ancestors moved into the area and hunted the white rhino to extinction. This done, they erected a false image to convince others that they still existed. In doing so, they offended their gods, and the legend of the white rhino was born. The elder explains they were sent a tribe of "dark people", who came to this land seeking protection and enslaved them. The only protection Saria's people had was the lie that the white rhino protected them, until a slave girl escaped and told them of the lie. As a result, the men were enslaved and the slave girl was made their queen, Kari. The tribe will only become bonded by the spirit again when the false idol is destroyed.

As time passes, a "Devil" chooses Saria as the next bride of the white rhino. David urges the men to join forces with the fair-haired women against the dark people. Escaping, the men disrupt the ceremony as the rhino-masked "Devil" is about to take Saria. David jumps the "Devil" and unmasks him as an African man. David frees Saria as more rhino-masked "Devils" emerge from the jungle, but the men and allied women pursue them, unaware they do not know the jungle as well as they do. A battle breaks out between the two tribes in the jungle. Kari sets out through the battle to kill David. Suddenly, there is an almighty roar and both tribes see a white rhino. Despite Kari telling the tribes it is their god, the beast charges and impales the false idol, Kari. The creature begins to drive out the "Devils" and disappears into the jungle.

David takes Kari's white rhino brooch and offers it to Saria, who then refuses it, saying that the "Devils" will not be returning. She goes on to say that the legend is partly fulfilled and she heads over to the white rhino statue. David tells her that he will not leave her, despite Saria telling him that her world is not his. David confesses his love for Saria, but she moves away and tells David that her love for him will always remain. She leaves David alone in the rain, along with the statue of the white rhino. As if hypnotised, David touches the white rhino's horn as lightning strikes.

In an instant, David is back in the high priest's temple just as they are about to proclaim judgment over him. Suddenly the white rhino statue begins to break and crumble to pieces. The priest joyfully announces that the legend of the white rhino is true and that they are free at last. The priest then orders the destruction of the "false idol's temple", whilst David discreetly leaves and joins the guide, who has been waiting for him.

Once back at the camp, David wonders whether it really was a dream or he had really traveled back in time to reunite a lost African tribe and end a million-year-old legend. As he cleans himself, he discovers the white rhino brooch in his pocket. David is then asked to greet some people from London. To his amazement, one of the guests is the spitting image of Saria. The guest then introduces herself as Sarah. Clutching the brooch, David shakes her hand.



To save money, Hammer used nearly all the sets and the Carl Toms-designed costumes left over from One Million Years B.C. (1966).[3]

Shooting took place at Elstree Studios from 10 January to 22 February 1966 while One Million Years B.C. was still in post-production.[4] The film was shot in DeLuxe Color and CinemaScope.


Box office

According to Fox records, the double feature of the film and The Devil Rides Out needed to earn $1,450,000 in rentals to break even and made $1,265,000, meaning they made a loss.[5]

Critical response

Monthly Film Bulletin said "After an opening which suggests a blend of Rider Haggard and H. G. Wells, this ludicrous farrago soon establishes its own comic strip level with dialogue to match. As a spoof it might have been hilarious, but there is every indication that the makers are in deadly earnest – even when Martine Beswick, clad in an animal skin bikini edged with miniature rhinoceros horns and charging around with a whip, dances herself into a trance before an audience of slaves and fellow Amazons before throwing herself at the feet of her captive white hunter. One of the feeblest Hammer films to date, in fact, and not surprisingly kept on the shelf for a couple of years."[6]

Tom Lisanti wrote in Film Fatales: Women in Espionage Films and Television 1962-1973: "[Beswick] was cast as Queen Kari in the film Prehistoric Women, a sort of follow up to the successful One Million Years BC [1966]. As the seductive and deadly leader of a tribe of lost amazons, Beswick had one of the great roles of a lifetime. Unfortunately, the production was plagued by indifferent direction, a low budget, and the fact that it was following up a gargantuan worldwide box office hit."[7]

Marcus Hearn wrote in The Hammer Vault: "An eccentric and unloved Hammer film that uses a blondes vs. brunettes scenario."[1]

Leonard Maltin reviewed the film as: "Idiotic Hammer Film in which the Great White Hunter stumbles into a lost Amazon civilization where blondes have been enslaved by brunettes. Honest! Nevertheless it has developed a cult following due to Beswick’s commanding, sensual performance as the tribe’s leader."[8]


Hammer reportedly viewed the film as one of their worst productions, delaying the film's premier in Great Britain by nearly two years and re-titling the movie to Slave Girls.[4]

Beswick claims that she "particularly enjoyed doing Prehistoric Women because even though it was such a B-film, the dialogue gave me some meaty diatribes against men, and, although I never considered myself a feminist, it was immensely satisfying to verbalize." Beswick also credited Carreras with encouraging her to be as wicked and cruel as possible, a role she said was greeted by mutual laughter between takes.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b Hearn, Marcus (2011). The Hammer Vault. Titan Books. p. 90. ISBN 978-0857681171.
  2. ^ "Slave Girls". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 28 October 2023.
  3. ^ Kinsey, Wayne (2010) Hammer Films: The Unsung Heroes, Tomahawk Press, Sheffield, England, p. 66 [1]
  4. ^ a b c Senn, Bryan (2019). "Twice the Thrills! Twice the Chills!": Horror and Science Fiction Double Features, 1955-1974. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 978-1476668949. Retrieved 12 November 2022.
  5. ^ Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 326. ISBN 9780818404856.
  6. ^ "Prehistoric Women". Monthly Film Bulletin. 35 (408): 121. 1968 – via ProQuest.
  7. ^ Lisanti, Tom (2002) Film Fatales: Women in Espionage Films and Television 1962-1973, Jefferson, N.C: McFarland and Company, p. 61
  8. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2009) 2010 Movie Guide. New York: Signet Books, p. 90.
  9. ^ Page-Kirby, Kristin. "The battle of the blondes (and the brunettes}". The Washington Post. Retrieved 28 April 2023.