The Primevals (The Lost Stop-Motion Sci-Fi Legend)

 

We can finally all rest in peace, with smiles on our faces. The story of The Primevals is long, though quite interesting. The brainchild of David Allen (RIP), known for his stop motion work on a variety of films, including the original Puppet Master (1990) and odd stints doing animation sequences for others, even moments in films such as The Hunger (1983). The Primevals originally began under a different idea in the 1960s and then evolved into a pseudo-Burroughs hodge-podge that by the late 1970s the film seemed on a productive path, even gracing the cover of Cinefantastique in 1978. Unfortunately, due to a variety of issues with funding and the production changing hands, it was simply never finished and Allen tragically died in 1999 from cancer, leaving storyboards, puppets, and work in the hands of colleagues and friends. Full Moon Entertainment (now Features), involved with the production in the 1990s, was finally able to secure enough funds, though meagre, to see Allen’s project to completion, giving it an official run in March of 2024. This is a film you never knew you were waiting for.

 
 

Where to start with this? This film brings up so many feelings and memories anyone born between 1970 and 1990 will be instantly transported to a moment. The Primevals features an interesting tale, actually, beneath the hilarious lines (“Staring into the eyes of a dying giraffe will change a man.”) and dated sensibilities (“Get all the women to higher ground!”), where an ancient alien race, in attempting to create a new version of themselves to survive on Earth, instead devolved into intelligent lizard men with a lust for violence, discovered by a group of researchers looking for the yeti. I could say more, but a quick title list drop is sufficient for many reasons. Combine Land of the Lost with Planet of the Apes, toss in some Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, a pinch of Planet of the Dinosaurs, and you have something like The Primevals. It’s a different experience for the history of its completion, it’s connection to lost decades, and being given the opportunity to experience a final product of literal decades of work, but it stands especially as a testament to Allen’s skill as an animator, being one of the last hands-on fantasy/sci-fi/horror greats after Harryhausen. His techniques are impeccable. Many have noted, for example, the four-limbed gait of the yeti early on in the film, an absolutely breathtaking moment. And in spite of the dated feel, there’s something special seeing it all in action, knowing what we do of the journey it took to get here. Truly an experience.

 

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Written by Stanley, Devourer of Souls

The Primevals (2024, US)
David Allen
4.8 / 5

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