"They treat the animals better than the human beings on this film," griped a worker at one of the locations for "Quest for Fire," the upcoming tale of life in the fast lane some 80,000 years ago. In a way, that's appropriate, since woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers probably found it easier to survive back then than man did; still, in director Michael Annaud's own quest for authenticity, he tried to give the actors a feel for the rigors of prehistory by dunking them in freezing water, running them through the brambles and the like. On the other hand, the SPCA was on hand to make sure that the elephants and lions weren't too put off by the woolly wigs and six-inch incisors they had to wear. The treatment was so bad, confided actress Rae Dawn Chong to friends not long ago, that the scenes which forced her to run through thick brambles in nothing but body paint often left her in tears. And when the schedule called for a return to the British location that she found particularly inhospitable, she admits that she very nearly didn't return to finish what is her first major film role.