Taglines: Back when you had to beat it before you could eat it…
Atouk (Ringo Starr) is a bullied and scrawny caveman living in “One Zillion BC – October 9th”. He lusts after the beautiful but shallow Lana (Barbara Bach), who is the mate of Tonda (John Matuszak), their tribe’s physically imposing bullying leader. After being banished along with his friend Lar (Dennis Quaid), Atouk falls in with a band of assorted misfits, among them the comely Tala (Shelley Long) and the elderly blind man Gog (Jack Gilford).
The group has ongoing encounters with hungry dinosaurs, and rescues Lar from a “nearby ice age”, where they encounter an abominable snowman. In the course of these adventures they discover sedative drugs, fire, invent cooking, music, weapons, and learn how to walk fully upright. Atouk uses these advancements to lead an attack on Tonda, overthrowing him and becoming the tribe’s new leader. He rejects Lana and takes Tala as his mate, and they live happily ever after.
Caveman is a 1981 American slapstick comedy film written and directed by Carl Gottlieb and starring Ringo Starr, Dennis Quaid, Shelley Long and Barbara Bach. The film has also gained a cult following.
Filming was mostly done in a protected ecological research area named “sierra de organos” in the town of Sombrerete in the state of Zacatecas, México. The river and fishing lake scene was shot in the Mexican state of Durango, and some scenes were filmed at the Churubusco Studios in México City.
The film features stop-motion animated dinosaurs constructed by Jim Danforth, including a Tyrannosaurus Rex which in one scene becomes intoxicated by a Cannabis-type drug, animated by Randall W. Cook. Danforth was a major participant in the special effects sequences, but left the film “about two-thirds of the way” (his words) through the work because the Directors Guild of America prohibited his contracted on-screen credit, co-direction with Carl Gottlieb. Consequently, Danforth’s name does not appear on the film.
Directed by: Carl Gottlieb
Starring: Ringo Starr, Dennis Quaid, Shelley Long, Jack Gilford, Cork Hubber, tErika Carlsson, Esteban Valdez, Sara López Sierra
Screenplay by: Rudy De Luca, Carl Gottlieb
Production Design by: Philip M. Jefferies
Cinematography by: Alan Hume
Film Editing by: Gene Fowler Jr.
Costume Design by: Robert Fletcher
Art Direction by: José Rodríguez Granada
Music by: Lalo Schifrin
Distributed by: United Artists
Release Date: April 17, 1981