Who is the Teenage Caveman?
Believe it or not, he’s Robert Vaughn. Vaughn, who would later go on to appear in The Magnificent Seven, The Man From UNCLE, Bullitt, The Towering Inferno, and Hustle, was 26 years old when he played a nameless caveman in Roger Corman’s 1958 film, Teenage Caveman. At the age of 26, Vaughn looked like he was closer to 35 and he certainly didn’t resemble a teenager. Despite wearing a loin cloth, he also didn’t appear to be a caveman. If he was a caveman than he was certainly a well-groomed caveman and perhaps the only caveman to understand how to use hairspray. Seriously, his hair is perfect in this film.
As for the film itself, it’s about a primitive tribe of people who live in a rocky wasteland. However, just across the river, there’s a land that’s full of plants and animals. It would obviously be a much better place to live and Vaughn’s teenage caveman is totally annoyed that the older folks on the tribe refuse to cross the river. They claim that a monster lives in the river and that it will kill anyone who tries to cross. Being a rebellious teenager, Vaughn decides to cross the river anyway. He convinces a group of friends to go with him. When they reach the river, they meet and fight the monster and they also discover that the monster was doing more than just guarding the river. It all leads to a plot twist that feels as if it was added at the last possible second.
In a later interview, Robert Vaughn referred to Teenage Caveman as being the worst film in which he ever appeared. He went on to suggest that it was the worst film ever made. Those are bold words coming from someone who appeared in as many bad films as Robert Vaughn did. That said, I do think that Vaughn was being a bit too hard on Teenage Caveman. For what it is — an extremely low-budget film that barely runs over an hour — Teenage Caveman is entertaining if you’re in the right mood for it. It’s hard not to smile at the cavepeople, with their modern haircuts and their very American accents. As well, the film features the same stock footage of dinosaurs fighting that appeared in countless other B-movies of the time and, again, it’s hard not to smile at the actors valiantly trying to pretend that there are dinosaurs fighting just a few feet away from them. And while that final plot twist may come out of nowhere, it’s just random enough to be interesting. Worst film of all time? With all respect to the teenage caveman, I have to disagree. It’s a B-movie and, if you enjoy B-movies, you’ll enjoy this one. And let’s give some credit to Robert Vaughn. He gives an earnest performance, even though he later said that he felt foolish every time he stepped out on the set. Add to that, his hair is perfect.
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