DINOSAURUS! - 1960
Fairview Productions, Universal Pictures
This movie means serious business! I mean, the title alone has an exclamation point! An Exclamation POINT!
Universal Pictures monster movie man, producer Jack H. Harris (THE BLOB, 4D MAN, EQUINOX, SCHLOCK, THE BLOB ) approached the entire thing like a full blown fanboy, monster movie geek showboating, seriously showboating, to other monster movie geeks. DINOSAURUS! feels like one great big, “Hey! Look what I can do!” kinda film.
Okay, so what did Jack do? In 1960 he wanted the more expensive process of color by Deluxe! He shot in the more expensive CinemaScope! He got Co-Producer Irwin S. Yeaworth Jr. (THE BLOB, 4D MAN) to Direct as well. Irwin worked off of a screenplay by Dan E. Weisburd and Jean Yeaworth, but that was from an original idea by ol' Jack himself. Jack meant business with this sucker.
But Jack couldn't get the otherwise busy Ray Harryhausen, so he got who he could. He could only afford the cheapest actors, but screw it, let's make this damn movie! DINOSAURUS! begins underwater where a diver swims while the words are abruptly spelled out DIN O SAU RUS ! In widescreen CinemaScope!
I'm not kidding, that's what they do here. Credits soon follow and as they do, the orchestra is just trembling with violins and heavy forbidding tubas to let us know that something is about to kick our butts and its going to happen pretty damn quick. Ronald Stein (THE PHANTOM FROM 10,000 LEAGUES, THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED, IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, THE SHE-CREATURE, NOT OF THIS EARTH, ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS, THE UNDEAD, INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN, ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN, SHE GODS OF SHARK REEF, LAST WOMAN ON EARTH, PREMATURE BURIAL, THE TERROR, THE HAUNTED PALACE, DEMENTIA 13, SPIDER-BABY, THE NAKED MONSTER) wrote the music and he wasn't fooling around!
By this time you must be on the edge of your seat because that darn Stein music is letting you know flat out that DINOSAURUS! Is about to pound your monster lovin' mind right into the gosh-darn ground, gosh-darn you!
And then... nothing! Just a peaceful island in the ocean. Huh.
KA-BOOM! KA-BOOM! Explosions in the water and one of the natives observe that the explosions will bring much happiness.
Next thing you know, here comes Betty Piper (Kristina Hanson) across the water. Holy gosh, Betty! Turn back! Too late. A delayed action charge goes off. Boss man Bart Thompson (Ward Ramsey: CAPE FEAR ) rushes off to save her, but Betty is okay. Yeah, she's fine but her cooler with lunch tipped overboard. So she strips to her bathing suit, throws caution and common sense to the wind, and jumps in. Naturally, Bart has to jump in after her before the next charge goes Blooey.
Betty swims. Bart swims after her. Betty swims and swims and swims but she isn't swimming down to where a heavy ice chest would have fell. No, she is just swimming far away from the boat. What are you up to ya crazy broad? Suddenly Betty comes face to face with DINOSAURUS!
Well, a frozen DINOSAURUS! Anyway. Say, why would it be frozen in the waters of a tropical island? Shut up, that's why!
Betty is so freaked out she faints, which is a pretty bad idea for an air breather to do underwater.
Bart performs a little mouth to mouth IF you know what I mean, and in short time Betty tells her monster story, Bart fights with the corrupt island Manager, Hacker (Fred Engelberg). A worker discovers that the dinosaurs are real and frozen, and the varmints are hoisted outta the water and onto shore.
The huge frozen dinos are left on the shore to thaw (what else would they do with them?) and a stereotypical drunk Irishman named T.J. O'Leary (James Logan: THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE) is left to watch over them. Meanwhile Hacker discovers a frozen caveman who washed up on shore and thinks Ca-Ching!
Everybody else leaves, a thunderstorm pops up, rain finishes thawing the dinos, lightening strikes the them, kick starts their hearts, which bring them back to life – somehow the caveman (Gregg Martell: RETURN OF THE FLY) gets a piece of this natural largess, and by golly we got ourselves a MOVIE.
Hacker plots with his henchmen to make money off the caveman by selling him on the mainland. He beats a kid in public making all of the tourists hate him. We can't wait to see hacker get it.
The drunk Irishman is the first to get it, dying while shouting something like “Saints preserve us!” and sets off a dynomite stick before he's swallowed. The noise brings the neighbors running and the T-Rex has food on the hoof. Then some tourists riding at night in a yellow tourist jeep run straight into the T-Rex.
Wait a minute! Island? Dinosaurs? Tourists? Storm? Yellow jeeps? If you're thinking that this is starting to sound remarkably like another movie, yep, you're right. Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg pretty much made a remake of DINOSAURUS! With JURASSIC PARK, turning a goofy movie into a fun science fiction movie. Yep. There's even a cute kid named Julio (Alan Roberts) who makes friends with one of the dinosaurs. Well, sort of. Man but that kid talked too damn much. Wish they had some raptors on this island too.
The caveman provides comic relief and Gilligan-style peccadillos. If you're concerned about the anachronism of dinosaurs being frozen with a caveman, wake up. These are dinosaurs frozen in the tropics, which have been tropics for millions of years, and all it took to bring them back to life was lightening! Frozen dinosaurs in relatively shallow water? Atsa lotta ice! No, just kick back, eatcher popcorn, and enjoy the stop motion movie monsters, which is all Jack Harris wanted you to do. And you will when you see DINOSAURUS!
Three Shriek Girls
copyright 2010 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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