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Set in "One Zillion BC", the film follows the adventures of caveman underdog, Atouk, who is constantly bullied by the other members of his tribe, as well as by their leader, Tonda, while lusting over the beautiful Lana (Barbara Bach), who happens to be Tonda's mate.
Eventually, Atouk gets banished from his tribe along with his best friend Lar (Dennis Quaid), he finds other misfits in the wild and forms his own tribe, and together they start walking upright, discover fire, invent music, tools, weapons, drugs, and fry an egg.
- Agony of the Feet: Once they fend off the T. rex when it steps into the hot embers of Atouk's tribe campfire.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Atouk loves Lana and Tala loves Atouk, Tonda does seem to love Lana, but Lana seems more interested in being with him just because he is the one in power. Subverted in the end when Atouk finally gets Lana and then dumps her on dinosaur crap and goes for Tala.
- Artistic License History: This movie is played for fun and makes that clear on the "zillion BC" title at the beginning.
- Behind the Black: Near the end a character is dumped into a pile of shit everyone should have known was there.
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: See Wacky Wayside Tribe.
- Black Comedy Rape: Atouk's futile attempts to force himself into a drugged Lana are Played for Laughs.
- But Not Too Gay: Homosexuality is openly visible with Rock and Flock, who hold hands and care for each other. Justified in that this is long before anyone really cared one way or the other.
- Colonel Bogey March
- Cool Horse: Or in this case, the horned dino-lizard mounted by Atouk in his final battle with Tonda.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Atouk is this to Lana, gender inverted with Tala towards Atouk.
- Exty Years from Now: Set "One Zillion BC, October 9th". (Incidentally, this was John Lennon's birthday, as well as the birthday of John's son Sean Ono Lennon, who was born October 9, 1975.)
- Farts on Fire
- Fur Bikini: Lana.
- Fictionary: Over 30 caveman words were created for this film, their meaning can be easily deduced by the audience. Ca-ca and doo-doo, on the other hand...
- Gold Digger: Lana, although for power, not money (which doesn't exist in this time period). She wanted to be mated to the leader, whomever he was. When Atouk lived in the cave, she pretty much ignored him unless he was giving her something, which she then shared with her mate Tonda, the chief. When Atouk rescued her from drowning and she learned that Atouk was now chief of his own tribe, she tried to seduce him. When Tonda attacked the camp, she cheerfully returned to Tonda. And when Atouk attacked Tonda's tribe and seized the cave she went back to Atouk, who had since realized what kind of person she was and dumped her in a pile of dinosaur crap.
- G-Rated Drug: The "red berries", which act just like cannabis.
- Happily Ever After: The end title.
- Human Popsicle: Lar, he gets better.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: The Sasquatch/Yeti wasn't mean, he was just lonely. As does the man-eating plant Atouk meets which kisses him.
- Inventing the Wheel: As mentioned, Atouk's tribe learns to walk upright and master fire, there's even one scene at the beginning in which Atouk is seen playing with a rough wheel in a stick.
- Jerk Jock: Tonda.
- Karma Houdini: Tala, despite revealing to Tonda the location of Atouk's camp out of jealousy, gets no comeuppance for it and ends up with Atouk.
- Meadow Run: Played with. It's two friends - not lovers, when Atouk and Lar meet again.
- No-Dialogue Episode: A grand total of one character in the whole movie speaks recognizable English, and only for one scene as he translates a few terms that the audience has probably deduced already. The rest of the movie is in made-up Caveman language and grunts.
- Non-Malicious Monster: The Yeti just wanted to make friends.
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: The male equivalent, as the T. rex really shouldn't have had external genitals.
- Nubile Savage: Lana. The rest of the cast to a lesser extent.
- Patchwork Map: "A nearby Ice Age"
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Atouk forms his tribe with this, which includes a blind old man, a gay couple, a midget, and a caveman who speaks only in English.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Gold Digger rather than traitor, and a non-death variant: After Atouk defeats Tonda, Lana immediately runs to his side, only to be dumped in dino-doo-doo.
- Road Apples: Dino ones.
- Sex Equals Love: To be fair, it's cavemen and cavewomen we are talking about; specially evident when Lar suggests Atouk to have sex with Tala, to which Tala happily agrees only to be turned down by Atouk saying that he will only have sex with Lana.
- Slurpasaur: The dinosaur at the beginning seems to be based on how early paleontologists thought dinosaurs were supposed to look.
- Toilet Humor
- Too Dumb to Live: The blind old man, Gog, when he is introduced he is being told by Tala to stay in one spot. What does he do? He walks straight into a tar pit. Many of the film's gags come from him getting into trouble.
- Triang Relations:
- Type 4 between Atouk, Lana and TondaAtouk: Lana, Lana. Atouk alunda Lana.
Lar: Nya. Lana alunda Tonda. Tonda [raspberry] Atouk.
- Type 5 between Atouk, Lana and Tala, which ultimately gets resolved when Atouk dumps Lana in the dino dung and returns Tala's affections.
- Type 4 between Atouk, Lana and Tonda
- Tyrannosaurus rex: One terrorizes the tribe in the first half of the film. It's defeated when it gets force-fed a plant that has the effect of getting the dinosaur high.
- The Unintelligible: Inverted with the Korean caveman Nook, who is the only character who speaks in English, hinting that he is more advanced; The other characters don't understand him.
- Wacky Wayside Tribe: The Sasquatch/Yeti encountered in the "nearby ice age."
- What the Hell, Hero?: Done without intelligible dialogue! When Atouk saves Lana from drowning, he loses Lar to the river's current, when he brings her back to his tribe the others question him about Lar and call him out on being more interested in Lana than looking for his best friend.
- Wolves Always Howl at the Moon: Dinosaurs howl at the moon... and cock-a-doodle-doo when the sun rises... and hoot on the next night.
- Yandere: Tala has shades of this: First by actively sabotaging Atouk's attempt to kidnap Lana from Tonda, and when Atouk rescues Lana she goes to Tonda's tribe out of jealousy, and reveals to Tonda the location of Atouk's camp.