My Top 5 Dinosaur Movies, other than Jurassic Park.

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My Top 5 Dinosaur World Movies, other than Jurassic Park

In preparation for Jurassic World, you may want to catch up on the genre of Dinosaur films. For this list I am speaking of dinosaur worlds, not just single dinosaurs that have been awakened in modern times for the purpose of a film. Dinosaur worlds include; Islands, continents, planets, prehistoric times, underground caverns, etc. I’m also talking about real dinosaurs for the most part, animals that once roamed the earth, not fictional beasts created for sci-fi films.

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5) Planet of Dinosaurs (1977)
We got some beautifully crafted dinosaurs in this film. One of the final forays into stop-motion dinosaur extravaganzas, it is a cult favorite for dinosaur fans. The script and plot ain’t so great but the bevy of fantastic creatures make it worth a viewing.
Dinosaurs: Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Rhedosaurus, Ceratopsian, Brontosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Kentrosaurus, Allosaurus, and Struthiomimus

planet of dinosaurs dvd planet of dinosaurs pic 23

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4) The Land that Time Forgot (1978)

The dinosaurs in this film aren’t perfect but this film gets the nod for variety of species and prehistoric beasts. The dinos were scale rod-puppets which made interaction with humans minimal, the giant pterodactyl that carries off the caveman being the exception. A good story penned by Edgar Rice Burroughs lands this in the Top 5. Extra points for the awesome movie poster!
Dinosaurs: Mosasaurus, Plesiosaur, Diplodocus, Pterodactyl, two Allosaurus, two Styracosaurus, Ichthyostega,  Triceratops,  Ceratosaurus

the land that time forgot - poster the land that time forgot pic 19

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3) When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970)
With Victoria Vetri running around in a dino hide bikini, it would be hard to take notice of the dinosaurs. However, these dinos are noticed because of their fabulous renditions in stop-motion artistry. The stop-motion dinos were the work of Jim Danforth. There’s not a lot of dinos in the film but they are top notch-Danforth’s work in this film rivals the greats, Harryhausen and O’Brien.
Dinosaurs: Plesiosaur, Chasmosaurus, Rhamphorhynchus, A carnivorous dinosaur based on the Scelidosaurus, (and it’s baby). 

when-dinosaurs-ruled-the-earth-movie-poster-1970 When Dinosaurs ruled the earth pic 6

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2) King Kong (1933)
This is the first mega dinosaur-land presented to the public at a time when most people didn’t have a clear picture of what dinosaurs looked like and were just discovering these creatures. The T. Rex is a fast moving, active beast as described by Charles R. Knight, not the slow sluggish reptiles other scientists were in favor of portraying. The film made Willis O’Brien the father of stop-motion special effects and giant monsters, influencing future directors and filmmakers, Ray Harryhausen, Ishiro Honda, Peter Jackson, Steven Speilberg, and Tim Burton, to name a few. Marcel Delgado built O’Brien’s models and was largely responsible for capturing the look O’Brien wanted for the dinos (and Kong).
Dinosaurs: Pteranodon, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, Styracosaurus (edited out), Elasmosaurus and although he’s not a dino, King Kong

King Kong posterkong

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1) One Million Years BC (1966)
Although given moderate praise through the years, this film contains some of Ray Harryhausen’s most impressive dinosaurs. I think the special effects were overshadowed by Raquel Welch and her fur bikini – (the original furkini, accept no substitutes!). But take a look at the beautiful renditions of the Triceratops and Brontosaurus and you’ll see some master craftsmanship. I’d like to mention that the models were sculpted by Arthur G. Hayward with direction from Ray and designed from Ray’s artwork.
Dinosaurs: Archelon, Brontosaurus, Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Triceratops, Pteranodon, Rhamphorhynchus

one-million-years-bc_thumb one million years BC pic 12

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Honorable Mentions:
Valley of Gwangi (1969)
Once again Harryhausen applies his talents to prehistoric beasts with great success.

Valley of Gwangi poster Valley-Of-Gwangi

 

Dinosaurs (2000)
Despite being a Disney film with talking dinos, it has some great scenes and dino imagery.

dinosaur 2000 poster dinosaur 2000 pic 1

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OK, want to see some more dino pics? Here ya’ go!

Because this post is about Dinosaurs, I’m going to refrain from posting yet another pic of Raquel in her fur bikini. But if you really want to see one look here!

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Planet of Dinosaurs (1977) – movie review

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Planet of Dinosaurs (1977)

Directed By James Shea
Written by Jim Aupperle and Ralph Lucas

This is an important film for the dinosaur movie fan because it is the last full-length *dinosaur world film to feature stop-motion animation dinosaurs. The film was a labor of love by the (at the time) up-and-coming special effects artists and animators. Most of the animation was handled by Doug Beswick and the effects photography was done by Jim Aupperle who was a knowledgeable special effects camerman. The models were built by Stephen Czerkas and Jim Danforth did some of the matte paintings.

The dinosaurs strive to equal the quality of the men’s mentor and hero, Ray Harryhausen and they even pay tribute with a Rhedosaurus-type dino in the film. The numerous dinosaurs have a unique lizard texture, scaly and knobby and are each planet of dinosaurs dvdmarvelous creations for their stop-motion format. The dinosaurs engage in some violent scenes pushing the envelope of the past, such as when the Ceratopsian impales one of the crew with his forward horn. This film has a large amount of dinosaur action and scenes, as they are the main reason for the film being made. In fact, Aupperle designated most of the limited budget for the film to go into the special effects. Dinosaurs include, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Rhedosaurus, Ceratopsian, Brontosaurus, Tyranosaurus, Kentrosaurus, Allosaurus, and Struthiomimus.

The story is a fairly lame hodge-podge of old ideas and is only outdone by a terrible script and hokey dialogue. A spacecraft veers off course and lands in a lake on a distant planet. The crew get out alive but all their equipment is lost. (Sound Familiar anyone?) They find the planet to be populated with savage dinosaurs that attack them relentlessly. The ships captain wants to take a passive path through the land, avoiding the dinos and finding a secure place to hide until help comes. The older experienced macho-man, Jim, wants to show these dinos who’s boss and kill the biggest one in town, the T Rex. At one point the Captain yells at Luke Skywalker dude for giving an hysterical woman a weapon. This was 1977, the year of Charlie’s Angels, didn’t they know women had the power by then?

There’s some weird dialogue about being a vegetarian and a meat eater and how only the meat-eaters survive. To prove the point, all the ‘vegetarians’ die first. The remaining crew sets out to kill the T. Rex. They first kill a Kentrosaurus, stuff it with planet of dinosaurs pic 13poison berries and bring it to Rex’ s cave. Well, old T. Bone skips right over the Kentro and grabs Luke Skywalker dude in his teeth. Ouch! Another team member gone. They come up with a new, more aggressive plan to kill Rex and it works. And they live happily ever after on their new planet.

Realizing early on that the actors are not going to carry the film, the filmmakers take lots of footage of them walking. Up mountains, down hillsides, across deserts, there’s just too much walking. The hokey dialogue is funny at times but wears thin as the film continues. The only saving grace is the last 45 minutes of the film has a lot of dinosaur scenes

If you’re looking for a good story, interesting sci-fi themes or any tense character drama, your ship is way off course with this film. But if you just want to see some impressive stop-motion dinos, and some humans get gobbled up by them, you will find this film enjoyable.

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Check out more dinosaur film reviews at my master page: Dinosaur films

* other films beyond this point did feature stop-motion animation dinos, most notably The Crater Lake Monster and Q: The Winged Serpent, but POD was the last to show a full dinosaur world with many species of dinosaurs using this form of animation.

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Note about the dvd release:
In a homage to stop-motion effects animation, the dvd special features also include the silent Willis O’Brien shorts, The Ghost of Slumber Mountain (1919) and Dinosaur and the Missing Link (1915)

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Notes about the effects crew:

Jim Danforth – worked on films as an animator and/or matte artist quite often uncredited. He made contributions to titles such as: Jack The Giant Killer (1962), The Outer Limits (1963-64), Equinox (1970, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) (the Wonkanator), Diamonds are Forever (1971) (Submarine models animation), Flesh Gordon (1974), The Crater Lake Monster (1977), Clash of the Titans (1980), Creepshow (1981), and many more…

Doug Beswick
Worked on notable films such as The Terminator (1984) (stop motion terminator skeleton), Aliens (1986) (Mechanical armature design), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Flesh Gordon (1974), Beetle juice (1988), Evil Dead II (1987), episodes of Xena Warrior Princess (1998 – 2000), to name a few.

Jim Aupperle
Worked on some mega hits as well including, Ghost Busters (1984), The Thing (1982), Hellboy (2004), Creepshow, Flesh Gordon (1974), Troll (1986), Dinosaur (2000), Harry Potter (part 2), and Ted (2011), to name a few.

Stephen CzerkasSteve Czerkas passed away 2015

And a special note about Stephen Czerkas who passed away January 22, 2015.

Stephen provided modeling and effects work early in his career to films such as, Dreamscape, Flesh Gordon and Planet of Dinosaurs. In 1981 he was commissioned to do some life-sized models of dinosaurs for museums. In the years following he released several books on the subject of paleontology including, Dinosaurs: A Global View, My life with Dinosaurs and Feathered Dinosaurs. In 1992 he opened The Dinosaur Museum in Utah which will continue to astound, inform and educate visitors on the subject of prehistoric beasts.

Unknown Island (1948) – movie review

unknown island poster

Rare and Obscure Dinosaur films

Unknown Island (1948)

Directed by Jack Bernhard and shot in Cinecolor while most films were still in B&W, Unknown Island boasts some class actors. This is basically a King Kong movie in color without the Kong. The dinosaurs were a bit funky looking in this one, but it had a decent enough plot. Virginia Grey, Richard Denning, Phillip Reed and Barton Maclane provide above average acting for this kind of film albeit melodramatic at points. I was swooped up into the story drama and characters.

An airforce pilot, Ted, veered off course by a typhoon, spotted an island in the Pacific that had strange giant beasts living on it during WWII. unknown island pic 1Now, after the war, he and a well-to-do fiancé, Carole, are in Singapore to hire Captain TarnowskI, a hard-ass, womanizing, ship owner, to help them find this uncharted island. TarnowskI has heard of this island from a drunk, John Fairbanks (Richard Denning) and brings him along for his knowledge of the mystery. They find the island and have to battle a mutiny from the crew, dozens of Tyrannosaurus and a big ape looking thing they call a giant sloth.

They come ashore in a lagoon studio set that looks an awful lot like the set in Gilligan’s Island. Early scenes of Brontosaurus in a swamp look decent enough and several Dimetrodon look okay, until they start walking and its clear they’re being dragged by a rope. The T. Rex are men in costume and crappy ones at that. In early scenes, the crew are shooting at them from afar. As the film goes on, we get close-ups of the beasts and, oh boy, they are terrible costumes. The giant sloth/ape thing is clearly a modified gorilla costume. The sloth and a T. Rex have a ridiculous fight at the climax of the film which amounts to the two costumed actors bumping into each other overunknown island pic 7 and over. It’s kinda‘, hilarious.

While Ted is interested in the discovery of the dinos and capturing them on camera, The captain is only interested in Carole and getting a piece of that action. He makes several blatant and unwelcome advances on her. Late in the film he attacks her and is saved by Fairbanks. Carole and Fairbanks fall in love. When they tell fiancé Ted, he is totally okay with it and wishes them luck ???? Anyway, with all this ridiculousness going on you may wonder why I like this film at all. I really can’t tell you for sure, but I suspect it’s the simplicity of the plot and a nostalgia for that 1940’s style storytelling. Or maybe it’s just Virginia Grey.

Can’t recommend it except for the completist dinosaur film fans.

Fun facts:

Barton Maclane would later star in I Dream of Jeannie as General Peterson (1965-1969)

Even though they are calling them T. Rex in the film, these dinos have a horn on their snouts, which indicates they are Ceratosaurus.

In one scene, they throw grenades at the dinos and one falls over dead. In actuality, the guy in the dino-suit fainted from heat exhaustion and they left the shot in the scene.

Cinecolor was not true full color. Colors such as bright green, purple, and yellow could not be rendered properly using this process.

 

 

Dinosaurus (1960) – movie review

Dinosaurus 1960 pic 3

Rare and Obscure Dinosaur films

Dinosaurus (1960)

Produced by Jack K. Harris (The Blob, 4D Man, Equinox), this 1960 B- movie is more likely fun for kids but adults might enjoy the campy humor, especially associated with the caveman (Gregg Martell). Construction crews building a port on a Caribbean Island accidentally dredge up two long buried dinosaurs from the ocean floor. They have been preserved by theDinosaurus_DVD cold deep waters. The Brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus are pulled onto the beach and the foreman, Bart, calls a scientist to come investigate their find. Little do they know, but they have also beached a Neanderthal Man tangled in the seaweed. Overnight there is a violent thunder storm and the dinosaurs are struck by lightning, bringing them back to life (ala ‘Frankenstein’ science). An orphan boy, Julio, befriends the Brontosaurus, knowing he is a herbivore. The T. Rex is soon on the hunt putting Julio in jeopardy but Julio is saved by the caveman. The caveman falls in love with Betty. Later in the film Julio, Bart and Betty, are stuck in a cave as the T. Rex tries to gain entry. As the walls collapse, the caveman saves Julio again, along with Bart and Betty. The climax of the film has the foreman fighting the T. Rex in a steam shovel from the construction site. Filmed partly on the island of St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, the film is campy entertainment for all ages.

dinosaurus 1960 bronto and Julio

B-movie fans will also be entertained by the trivia and correlations to other films:

Marcel Delgado (maker of King Kong) had only 2 weeks to design the dinosaur models used for the film.

During filming, the special effects crew also filmed a sequence for The Twilight Zone using the miniature set and the Brontosaurus. The footage can be seen in the TZ episode “The Odyssey of Flight 33.”

The steam shovel vs. T.Rex climax is reminiscent to Ripley fighting the Alien in the ‘pay-loader machine’ in the film Alien. It is also clearly ‘hijacked’ for the scene at the end of Carnosaur (1993).

In one scene, a bus full of tourists is confronted by the T. Rex who bends down low and peers into the bus windows at the screaming people. (see photo above) He then bangs the bus with the side of his head and eventually crushes the bus. The similarities between this scene and the scene in 1993’s Jurassic Park with the ‘tour jeeps’ are more than a coincidence and thought to be Spielberg’s homage to the earlier film.

Psuedo science:
By now most of you know, there was no actual Brontosaurus that ever walked the earth. The Brontosaurus was a mistake of having the wrong head on the body of an Apatosaurus. Through the 1980’s, most museums began removing the ‘Brontosaurus’ heads from their skeleton displays and replacing them with the proper, smaller heads. And naturally, millions of years passed between the time that Dinosaurs lived and Cavemen arrived on earth.

Related Articles:
The Legend of Dinosuars and Monster Birds
Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women