Ah yes, time to slip back into the comfy territory of “featured on MST3K” old 50 movies about dinosaurs, and of course when talking about MST3K featured flicks, Bert I. Gordon (or Mister BIG, as he was nicknamed by good ol’ Forrest J. Ackerman) is bound to be involved somewhat.
This is actually his first directed movie, followed 2 years later by Beginning Of The End, aka the one about giant locusts and “mantises in pantises”.
Sorry, getting back on track. Yeah, King Dinosaur marks Mister BIG’ first feature length work, after some television commercials, and let’s just say that its first step it’s already a good indication of him being incredibly cheap and fast in making a movie. And i mean both, as the movie was shot in a week, and was indeed cheap, since it has only 4 actors and it uses stock footage, not only for the scene of the mammoth’s attack it’s lifted from 1940’s One Million BC, but the army and the atom bomb explosions are just military stock footage, and there’s no cheaper than free.
Set in the not so far distant future of 1960 (as in 5 years after its release), King Dinosaur is sadly not a lost american adaptation of Fossil Fighters or about kids collecting and battling dinosaurs for fun, but concerns an expedition of four scientist, sent as astronauts to investigate the ancient planet Nova, that just now has entered the Solar system, and see if it’s viable to become an Earth colony.
They land and at first encounter common Earth animals but then also run into extinct creatures like a mastodon and prehistoric mammals. Eventually two of the scientists are trapped into an island by a giant-sized green Iguana that the crew forced to stand on its hind legs (yes, this is the “King Dinosaur”), launch a flare, get rescued and decide to use the nuclear auxiliary power supply of the ship to basically nuke the fuckin dinosaurs, and alongside “Joe The Lemur” they watch the stock footage of the atom bomb, at a distance that will still result in them growing giant extra limbs.
And proudly cap off the movie with “we’ve brought civilization to the planet Nova”, as thriumphant music plays over the stock footage of the atomic mushroom. Wow.
Keep in mind, this group of scientists was sent there to determine if the planet was fit for human life. They didn’t need to do this, at all, but packed with food and a “pocket atom bomb” anyway.
I love how utterly insane a “solution” this one is, because it comes absolutely out of nowhere and it’s non-chalantly presented as if they were talking of bringing fish bait.
Regardless, they basically fucked themselves hard, but then again, this team is made of a zoologist that manages to identify a bearded lizard as a Tyrannosaurus Rex, so i’m not too surprised.
And i guess you kinda “need” a somewhat spectacular ending when your movie it’s barely over one hour long, and it’s half made of mediocre actors talking, setting up camp and doing a lot of boring things… and half from stock footage, like, even more than the various synopsis or brief descriptions would led you to believe, to the point some sequences it’s hard to distinguish newly filmed footage from the stock one.
You will definitely recognized some of the new footage by the craptacular and uber cheap special effects (even in the 50s people would have laughed), like the badly superimposed “giant ant” with the obvious clash of the backgrounds, the miniature sets where the reptiles wrestle wobbling in some occasions, the obvious day-for-night shots, and plenty of goofs.
Even more incredible is that Fire Maidens From Outer Space would recycle the “rocket landing” footage, because yes, there were filmakers desperate enough to rip-off Bert I. Gordon.
In short, King Dinosaur it’s indeed the embryo of Bert I. Gordon’s cinema, has already all his distinguish traits, and it’s such an unbelievably cheap, silly “so bad it’s good” specimen on its own.