Among the many dinosaurs films ailing from the 50 and ownards, Dinosaurus! comes to mind as a classic cheesefest full of b-movies cliches, incredibly outdated values and characters that would fly only in that decade, sometimes for other reasons besides being offensive.
Never mind it being from the ’60s, or the fact that Steve McQueen was intended to play the lead character (after his success as the lead teen in 1958’s The Blob, also produced by Jack Harris, and also directed by Irvin Yeaworth), but opted out to star in The Magnificent Seven, never mind, because this is such a cornucopia of old timey laughable b-movie trash that it was eventually featured on Rifftrax. It was just a match made in cheap dinosaur heaven.
Such a perfect film to lampoon and ridicule that i’m surprised it took them until 2018, and now it’s fully free on their Youtube channel, so you have no excuse now.
But for us, we’re gonna try and review it in his “riff-less” original release, it’s the season of giving after all, so let us partake in some fermented dinosaur cheese of yore.
It’s such a bubbling broth of cliches that of course it throws a caveman into the mix, it’s such a perfect synthesis of b-movie junk, as is the frozen dinosaurs being revived by a thunder strike that basically frankensteins them to life, only to have them eat one Irish stereotype (called O’Leary, because fuck you) that’s so fiercely stock it would be offensive were not so clownish.
Worry not, though, there’s plenty of 50 (and 60s) casual misoginy, racism, and women characters that could be replaced by some Olive Oil clones without issues, and even stuff like a guy called Dumpy that’s a manchild in the strictest definition of the term, probably isn’t aware of being a grow man, and it’s played for cheap laughs, as it’s the aforemention caveman… and the almost 20 minutes of screentime dedicated to use every single “caveman reacts to modern inventions” cliche.
Though the caveman is the more likeable character in the entire movie, which says a lot.
Not to forget the small island boy that’s a fan of dinosaurs, as he explains in detail and abundantly so every chance he gets to talk some shit dialogues, before his guardian/tutor catches him doing anything (Gamera was on vacation that day, apparently), as said character it’s the island manager, pretty much a cartoon villain, one called Mike Hacker, and that for some reason has a vague french accent, despite not being cast as even remotely french, nor being played by a french actor.
And i guess let’s talk about the plot now, doesn’t matter since it’s a random mish mash of stuff, often not even that well explained, but the basic gist is that there is an american crew of engineers on a Caribbean island that are methodically setting off bombs underwater to create a harbour for tourism (though the movie doesn’t explain it well at all), and in doing so they accidentally free a couple of dinosaurs that were probably hidden in the ocean floor, perfectly conserved by icy cold currents.
But they basically unthaw when a lightning hits them, causing panic among the population and the americans. Also, unknown to most people, a cavemen also washed ashore and wakes from its million years slumber, but the villainous island manager wants to capture and sell him.
How many cavemen come with their own non-paleolithic shoes and briefs under their tribal loincloth (making this movie have a caveman pantyshot, technically speaking), after all?
Eventually the dinosaurs fight, and the lead main mc white mc man has to fight the surviving creature by using construction vehicles, as it would become a staple of trash cinema with dinosaurs, , like the forklift in Carnosaur 2. After all, everything is a spin-off of B.V.C. for the PS2.
The plot it’s a stew of tenously stringed together cliches (though i’m surprised they try to call paleonthologists when they discover the dinosaurs, instead of just fashioning cigars from their hyde or something), the characters are stupid as a rock, the acting it’s often so fiercely bad it’s hilarious and – almost – makes the crappy cavemen slapstick routines loop around to be funny again, and the effects are pretty dang cheap, with a combination of puppets, some rare miniatures (with the human character dolls not moving an inch, of course) and stop-motion for the dinosaurs.
Stop-motion, yes, but dang it’s pretty cheap and fairly bad, which isn’t too surprising as we’re pretty much in “Showa Gamera” territory, with obscene amounts of blatant rear projections, often for stuff that’s not even supposed to be too distant from the foreground actors and shouldn’t really need it.
fuck’s sake, they rear project even crowd scenes were they could just shot the scene with all the actors, how cheap is this movie? Was the main cast so racist they didn’t wanted to be filmed alongside the many non-white extras playing the villagers? Is this a rethorical question?
Even so, it’s kinda hard to hate Dinosaurus, despite the old fashioned/decrepit sensibilities it’s also mostly aware that it’s a witch’s brew of cliches played for comedy, it knows it’s junk b-movie cheese heaven, as perfectly summarized by the scene of the boy, Julio, introducing his dinosaur toys to the adults and passionately spewing off lots of paleonthological incorrect info.
And overall, it’s fairly watchable, it’s not overly long, but it’s nothing that great, its value as a cheesefest from that era that epitomizes that kind of cliched drive-in trash is far higher than its value as a movie, cause it’s a fairly bad for the time, one that can be enjoyed today but it’s definitely an acquired tast, and mileage might fluctuate depending your tolerance and/or love of 50s B-movies.
Gotta love how it adds the question mark after “THE END” shows up on screen, as the director previously did for the original 1958’s The Blob and 4D Man.
The latter also being a candidate for a double bill review with The Human Vapor. MMH!