Rare and Obscure Dinosaur films
The Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds (1977)
Directed by Junji Kurata
1977, in the shadow of Mount Fuji, lay the unspoiled land of lakes, mountains, and caves. Camps hold activities, people fish, people explore, and people get eaten by a giant Plesiosaur in the lake. Two marine biologists go out exploring on the river to investigate the legend of a sea serpent. There’s a violent attack as the monster grabs one woman out of the raft by her leg. She fights, screams, punches and kicks, hanging upside-down, her leg bleeding profusely. Meanwhile, two explorers at the base of a mountain explore some caves. They enter a big cavern and discover some giant eggs. The explorer says, “Hey look, a giant egg,” to which the egg replies, “Hey look, dinner.” Out comes this giant flying reptile which resembles a Rhamphorhynchus. (Fossils of the actual creature show it as the size of a small dog, but in this film it’s the size of a plane.) The flying reptile heads straight for the populated beach area to cause havoc and terror. Eventually the Plesiosaur and the Rhamphorhynchus fight, as a volcano erupts, an earthquake hits and the land reclaims the dinosaurs. All we’re missing is a tsunami.
The film was produced by Toei Productions (a Toho rival) that had sci-fi success earlier with The Green Slime. The two dinos in this are not men in suits but puppetronics. In the fight scene, they try to ramp up the action but the lack of control of these puppets becomes awkwardly noticeable. Some impressive scenes make up for the less aesthetic parts. The film has blood and angry gnashing of teeth, not recommended for young children. Rolling human heads, half bodies, bloody deaths, it’s a real dino-feast going on here! There are some incredibly hokey parts, too, including a Japanese country singer at a festival honoring the lake monster.
Many reviewers call this a rip-off of Jaws. I don’t agree. They may have glommed a couple of ideas from Jaws but it’s like saying any movie with a monster with teeth is a Jaws rip-off. I have an idea what the studio was aiming for. At the time, Godzilla went into the age 6-9 market catering to pre-teens (Godzilla‘s Revenge, Godzilla vs. Gigan). Gamera had already been in that market for years. So there was a void to fill – some adults may like monster movies, too. The whole film had that loose 70’s melting pot vibe exemplified by the soundtrack (jazz, disco, and country music). It was loaded with bad pseudo-science. There’s a decent enough story about a reporter and the biologists but this film would probably only be enjoyed by dinosaur enthusiasts. (Like me)
Creature Features – Dinosaurs Invade