GenreSci-Fi, Action, Adventure Duration CountryUnited States
Release dateApril 15, 1966 (1966-04-15) GenresScience Fiction, Action Film, Adventure Film CastWendell Corey (Adm. David King), Keith Larsen (Cmdr. Scott), John Agar (Dr. Farrell), Merry Anders (Lt. Karen Lamont), Irene Tsu (Linda), Robert Ito (Tang) Similar moviesVoyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1968)
TaglineIt's the battle of the sexes as savage planet women attack female space invaders!
Women of the Prehistoric Planet is a 1966 American science fiction/action film directed by Arthur C. Pierce and starring John Agar. It was featured in the first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1989.
A spacefaring crew from an advanced civilization is preparing to return home after an extended voyage. The crew includes "humans" (represented in the film by Caucasian actors and actresses) and "Centaurians" (represented in the film by Asian actors and actresses). The Centaurians have been rescued from their home planet after a catastrophic event, not explained in the movie, has devastated their planet. They are being brought back with the spacefaring explorers with an expectation that they will be assimilated into their new parent culture. One of the ships in the fleet is hijacked by a few of its Centaurian passengers and crash-lands on a prehistoric planet in the "Solaris" system. Countermanding orders, the rest of the fleet returns to search for survivors after the crash. In the film's "twist," by the time that the rescuers (traveling at fast sublight speeds) are able to return to the planet, they are encountering the descendants of the original crash survivors - explained in a simplified version of time dilation. Linda, a Centaurian from the rescue ship, falls in love with Tang after he saves her from drowning. After fighting with the planet's indigenous species (1960s-era special effects including giant iguanas meant to represent dinosaurs), Tang and Linda are marooned on the prehistoric planet - the latter revealed to be the captain's own daughter. In the film's coda, this savage and primitive planet is revealed to be Earth.
Race relations are the movie's overarching theme, although the movie's approach to the subject has been criticized.
"... a blatant social commentary on race relations (from a mid-60s point of view). Even though the screenplay tries to preach fairness, some of the subtle signals send contradictory messages. The crew members of the Cosmos are portrayed as superior. The Centaurians as inferior. The crew are clearly all-white. They dress in tidy white uniforms with snappy cravats. They are in control, follow orders, and are concerned for others. The Centaurians are "rustic," (and all played by asians) Their outfits are sleeveless. Their men are hotheads and trouble makers. (their women are nice, though). Even the "progressive" notion of Tang being the mixed-race son of a "white" and a Centaurian, is undermined by his apparent comfort at being a cave man. Subtle signal: "They" are savages at heart.
"The real subject matter of the film is race relations, with the "Centaurians" all being played by Asian actors and the "Humans" all played by whites and the message is that different races can and should get along. This is a noble sentiment of course, but the movie around it is both incredibly clunky, unintentionally condescending and has an incredibly lazy twist at the end."
Leonard Maltin gave the movie one and a half stars and the movie has an 18% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes web site. Other reviewers have assessed the movie as a "bomb" and described the movie as "Typical bad sci-fi ... with horrid special effects."
The MST3K version of the film, accompanied by a short introduction by actress Irene Tsu (Linda), was released by Rhino Home Video as part of the 'Collection, Volume 9' box set (now out of print).
The film's provocative movie poster features the tagline "It's a battle of the sexes as savage planet women attack female space invaders" and depicts a blonde and a brunette in a catfight. However, there are no "planet women" in the movie as the only female Centurian (Irene Tsu) does not originate from the prehistoric planet. Nor does the film contain any scene of women fighting each other.