SIFF 2024 Reaction – THE PRIMEVALS

I am always a fan of the the midnight section at film festivals, so of course I had to go check the opening night movie out! Though it was lightly attended, I made my first ever visit to the mammoth SIFF Cinema Egyptian, a true palace of a cinema that feels authentic and old the moment you walk into its unique entry with its tiny concession stand over to the left and the long hallways leading into a generously sized temple-like cinema unlike anything I have ever seen before. I have always loved Seattle cinemas from afar but it was an absolute treat to see this movie, decades in the making, on the big screen.

About: Among the towering peaks of the Himalayas, a band of sherpas do battle with a giant ape-like creature. When the monster is slain, its remains are entrusted to Dr. Claire Collier (Juliet Mills). She believes the creature to be the legendary Yeti and organizes an expedition to secure a live specimen. Joining her are two former students—Matt Connor and Kathleen Reidel—field guide Siku, and big-game hunter Rondo Montana. Together, the group scours the treacherous mountain terrain for their quarry only to discover a hidden tropical valley inhabited with wondrous creatures out of Earth’s ancient past and strange beings from beyond the stars. A passion project decades in the making, The Primevals was conceived in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until 1994 that live action principal photography commenced. Director David Allen, a legendary stop-motion animation pioneer, then set about bringing to life the creature sequences. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1999, leaving the film elements, storyboards, and stop motion puppets in the care of producer Chris Endicott, who oversaw the film’s completion following a recent crowdfunding campaign. The resulting film is a delightful throwback to the Saturday morning matinees of yore—a science-fantasy adventure in the same tradition as King KongThe Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, and The Valley of Gwangi. (Credit: Dan Doody)



Reaction: A movie that has been in the works even before yours truly was born, THE PRIMEVALS is really something you have to see to believe as well as a great example of an unfinished movie finally seeing the light of day. As the synopsis mentions the movie had principal photography completed in 1994 (!) and you can absolutely tell, right down to the video cameras, cassette tape recorders and even the hair style of the time.  Right from the beginning I was getting all of the cult movie vibes, and your enjoyment of THE PRIMEVALS will entirely depend on your tolerance for somewhat dated, stop-motion effects work along with some tru\y over the top acting as a group of explorers look for a giant Yeti, or ape-like creature. One element I really liked was that the performances are JUST at the level where you feel all the characters truly believe what they are doing is important and take it way too seriously, which absolutely pushes the camp value here. Juliet Mills fares the best out of the cast as our fun-loving doctor and you can’t help but laugh at all of the dialogue, but go with it. I love these types of discoveries and very much am in support of finally getting this bonkers sci-fi adventure on the big screen where it belongs. 


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