My Aurora Prehistoric Scenes Collection video

dimetrodon w alt base 018 - by Mike K

My Aurora Prehistoric Scenes Collection video

I put together this video to showcase my Aurora Prehistoric Scenes model kits. All the kits were built and painted by me. Most of the ones in this video are original 1970’s kits, not reissues. Many of these were damaged and had missing pieces that I refurbished. For some I made minor modifications. I have more kits yet to be built that I will be working on in the coming year. Part II of my video will be made when they are complete. I did a voice over in my 1950’s style narration voice. it came out hokey but I left it in anyways. It was my dry attempt at humor…

Kits: Cro-Magnon Man, Cro-Magnon Woman, Neanderthal Man, Sabertooth Tiger, The Tar Pit, The Giant Bird, Allosaurus (2 kits), The Wooly Rhino, Dimetrodon

You can see photos of these kits and more here: Model kits by Mike K

dimetrodon w alt base 008 -  - by Mike K

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) – Movie Review

journey to center earth pic 2

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

One thing I have noticed about many older dinosaur films. If the studio paid for a well written script and good actors, it didn’t have much left for good dinosaurs. This is a finely acted period piece set in the1880s, with interesting dialogue, characters, plot, and conflicts. Naturally this is more of a fantasy/adventurer movie, originally penned by Jules Verne, but there are dinosaurs in it, so I file it within the realm of dinosaur films.

James Mason plays an outstanding part as Sir Oliver Lindenbrook a headstrong scientist on the verge of a very important discovery. He is curt and brash, mostly because he feels time consuming formalities only stand in the way of discovery. When he is forced to take another scientist’s widow on the expedition he has no qualms about expressing his dissatisfaction with the journey to center earth covercapabilities of the opposite sex. Lindenbrook is proven wrong by the end of the film as lady Carla Goteborg (Arlene Dahl) becomes a major asset to the group. A young Pat Boone plays the part of Alexander McKuen (Alec), Lindenbrook’s nephew and assistant.

The dinos are Rhinoceros Iguanas with sail fins attached to their backs. I must say, of all the reptile stand-ins for dinosaurs in film, these are the best. They truly look like dimetrodons. (And you can’t even see where they stapled the sailbacks to the reptile skin, lol.) The Red Dragon at the end is a Tegu with no such appliances but plays a rather slow and dull part in the film.

The first time I had seen this I was a boy of about 8 years old. I will admit that most of my enjoyment of this film is nostalgic and I have no idea what a person watching it for the first time today would think of it. I’d say if they didn’t have an appreciation for 1950s sci-fi/fantasy/adventure or Jules Verne, they wouldn’t think much of it. The film is very British in feel and style (much like the Lost World 1960 remake) which is also an aspect I appreciate.

I also feel good that science is applauded and held in high esteem in this film. Today it seems that whenever a scientist makes a statement, he is ridiculed by counter scientists working for oil and gas companies, or by creationists that claim all the scientific evidence was left in the ground by the devil to confuse mankind. Global warming is a real problem and fracking (fracturing the earth’s bedrock to release natural gas) will lead to more and more earthquakes and volcanic eruptions each year, destabilizing the earth’s crust. For every action there is an equal reaction, and all that. But that’s a debate for another day and a different blog.

journey to center earth pic 9

Fun Facts:
Some underground sequences were filmed at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

It was nominated for 3 academy awards, Set/art decoration, Special Effects, and sound effects in 1960.

Rhinoceros Iguanas are found mostly on the island of Haiti and Dominican Republic. They grow to 4ft long.

Dimetrodons are not actually dinosaurs. They are Pelycosaurs which lived in a time before dinosaurs in the Permian Era of earth’s history.

More dinosaur film reviews can be found at this page: Dinosaur Film Reviews Overview

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.