Today's most astounding adventure... that started a million years ago!
Year of Release: 1960
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 83 minutes (1:23)
Director: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.
Ward Ramsey ... Bart Thompson
Kristina Hanson ... Betty Piper
Alan Roberts ... Julio
Fred Engelberg ... Mike Hacker
Paul Lukather ... Chuck
Wayne C. Treadway ... Dumpy
Lucita Blain ... Chica
Gregg Martell ... The Neanderthal
Jack H. Harris ... Tourist on Boat (uncredited)
On the ocean floor off a Caribbean island, an American engineer building a new harbor sets off a blast that uncovers the frozen bodies of a Brontosaurus, a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Neanderthal man. The dinosaurs are hauled ashore by the construction crew, who are unaware that the giants are actually alive in a state of suspended animation. Struck by lightning during a fierce tropical storm, the monsters awaken and prowl the island jungles. Also restored to life is the cave man, an amiable brute who joins an island boy in a series of wacky misadventures.
Dinosaurus, remindin' us that offshore oil drillin' goes a lot slower when you hafta wait for the dinosaurs to decompose.
An speakin' of Jurassic horrors lurkin' just beneath the surface, havin' successfully started down the path to rehabilitation after what went down at the New Year's party, an with my recent drive-in victory over the tightwad Hernandez, I got to thinkin' about just how good I have it an decided it was high time I paid it forward. Course, you prolly already know where I'm goin' with this - the *other* casualty of my New Year's party, Duke Tankersley. I'm sure you remember what went down last spring on Lake Gunkamucka when ole Crudfin boarded his boat like the Coast Guard sackin' a drug yacht an durn near chewed his leg off. Ever since then Duke just sits around with that look Trump had when he realized he might actually win the presidency, it's depressin'. Now, the way I figured it, we had to take out Crudfin while we had the advantage of Lake Gunkamucka bein' frozen *almost* solid, an odds were, we were only gonna have one shot at it. So I got together with Billy Hilliard an Cleave Furguson over at Mack's Stacks of Manly Snacks for a little strategy session an eventually we came up with a fool proof plan to turn 'im into a Long John Silver's fish basket. We would take Cleave's fish finder out on the ice an walk the lake's surface until we found a blip that looked like a Volkswagon Bug, auger down *just* above 'im, an fire 60, 70 rounds of semi-auto fire directly into his brain. Ya know, just to be sure. Took quite awhile, but we eventually found 'im down in Goodyear Chasm an took turns drillin' through the five feet of ice separatin' us from ole Moby Hick til we finally broke through an hit water. Long story short, for reasons I'm not entirely clear on, bullets don't work worth a damn when you're havin' to fire through 5' of water, an on toppa that, when you're shootin' through a hole that's only 6" wide, it can be a pretty dangerous business firin' into ice that solid if you get even a little off-kilter.
So we still couldn't reach the booger with brawn nor bullet, an so finally we decided to just ram the auger through his head an like Abel Ferrara in The Driller Killer, only when Billy raised it up an jammed it down into 'im we'd miscalculated the exact location of his brainium an ended up just spearin' the thick part of his tail an... well, you remember that scene in Tremors where the construction worker jackhammers into the monster? Sombitch took off just like that; ripped the auger clean outta Billy's hand, an between that 400 fishpower an all the structural cracks we'd blasted in the ice with our fruitless shootin', Crudfin split a fault line through the ice clear to the bank that doubled back on us an busted out the entire perimeter of the inlet. Just barely got off the ice before it splintered into a dozen chunks, an all the while you could see the auger dartin' around in the gaps in the icebergs lookin' for a clear path to the bank like the world's most P.O.'d channel marker, until it finally tore loose from his torso an sank to the bottom. I took one look at Duke's abandoned truck that's been sittin' there since April an calmly suggested we get the hell outta there before he burst up outta the ice like an alien outta John Hurt an turned us all into chum, an we Usain Bolted on outta there. I shoulda known that wouldn't work; Duke shanked the bastard eight times with his busted fishin' pole, an even though he put one of the sombitch's eyes out, the damage obviously didn't get the job done. I dunno what else to do short of bringin' Robert Shaw back from the dead, cause you know that aquatic asshole's gonna go on the offensive the moment the lake thaws now that there's been an attempt made on his life. The worst thing about it is we let Duke down, even though I'm not sure he even hears what you say to 'im anymore. Either way, I don't think I'm gonna tell 'im about this... maybe I can get ahold of some of that dynamite Delbert Biddle's got stashed in his shed... I bet we'd have a fightin' chance with that.
Well, we stabbed at 'im from Hell's heart an that didn't work, so I'm all outta ideas. That's okay though, cause I got somethin' here you're definitely gonna wanna take a stab at; Dinosaurus, which I don't mind tellin' ya, is quite possibly the finest movie ever made to feature a Neanderthal destroyin' a HAM radio with an axe, an that ain't the kinda conclusion I draw without careful consideration. Normally in the olden days your dinosaurs tended to turn up in a virgin forest somewhere, but this flick's better cause here they get thawed out on the beach an go stompin' around the Virgin Islands where folks can't get away when the stop-motion Mesozoians start carryin' off drunks an causin' cave-ins that crush big fat guys who dress like Hannibal Lecter at the end of Silence of the Lambs. I can see you're gonna need a little convincin' an that's alright - after all, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. That's why I've plucked a few of the more memorable tidbits outta the old primordial ooze an hosed 'em off for the benefit of those folks who've never experienced the genius of the late great Irvin Yeahworth Jr. (who also directed a little known flick you mighta heard of called The Blob), so without further adieu, let's get rollin' here. First, a 5"x5" flag waved at half a mile's distance is surprisingly ineffective at warding away incoming boats. Second, it's easy to call Millennials lazy when members of your generation used to get jobs handed to 'em despite rampant alcoholism an a propensity towards layin' passed out on the deck all day. An third, be careful what you pull out of a woman's fridge, cause you just might be eatin' 'er nightly rejuvenating facial mask.
Now, I wanna preface what I'm about to say with the assertion that I am in no way a disgustin' chauvinistic pigdog, BUT, I hafta say that women've gotten really stuck up over the past 4, 5 million years. All the sudden you're not good enough for 'em just cause ya got a minor case of prehistoric crotch mites gnawin' at your bits. Try to get 'em to go somewhere without "puttin' on their face" sometime though an they'll tell ya they can't leave the house cause it makes 'em feel like the old hag in a Disney movie. Well, that's a two way street ladies. I mean, you're freakin' out about a little zit or an imperfect night's sleep makin' ya look like an extra from a George Romero flick, yet the caveman in Dinosaurus wakes up after bein' out cold at the bottom of the ocean for 4 million years an all the WOMEN in the cast get hung up on his looks. One gal runs screamin' from 'er house when she sees 'im, an the other, despite managin' not to have a complete meltdown, won't even *consider* gettin' romantic with 'im even after he saves 'er from becomin' Tyrannosaurus sauce. Listen ladies: the man JUST got up. Maybe if you'd give 'im a chance to hop in the shower, get a shave, maybe slip into a fresh breechcloth, he might clean up just fine, but nooooooooo. He's ICKY. Then, to add injury to insult, the stalactite chandelier in his pad starts cavin' in an he sacrifices everything to save 'er by holdin' up the support beam long enough for 'er to escape, just so she can run off with the handsome lead who unleashed the goddamned dinosaurs from their primeval power naps in the first place. Then they turn around an say "chivalry is dead," well, *that's why*. Chivalry can change a guy from beefcake into spam in about half a second an literally kill ya, meanwhile, the object of your affections strolls off with some jerk named Chad an pops out a half-dozen entitled little yard monsters until fatherhood wears thin an he runs off to Tahiti with their marriage counselor. Bottom line: the caveman got a raw deal, an the only person in the whole flick who ever shows 'im any respect is an obnoxious little kid who refers to his toy dinosaurs as his "friends." Ironically, had the caveman survived, he prolly coulda gotten with this dame after she'd been dumped like an FBI informant into New York Harbor, but frankly that bitch wasn't good enough for 'im, so I say tough titty. Tough, sagging, stretch mark-laden titty. Real men have brow curves, damnit.
The movie begins with a coupla divers off the coast of St. Croix dynamitin' the crap out of a coral reef so they can turn the Earth's natural beauty into little miniature snow globe paper weights to sell to obnoxious tourists, only work comes to a screechin' halt when the crew boss (Bart) finds the island manager's son (Julio) ridin' around in the lunch box of a chunky bulldozer operator named Dumpy. Kid's dad (Mr. Hacker) prolly pimped 'im out to Rush Limbaugh or somethin', which is more'n enough to make you wanna hide out with construction workers where it's safe. Then some broad (Betty) comes gunnin' 'er boat up toward the area that's been rigged with charges an purt'near gets 'er buoys blown off before divin' overboard after the airtight picnic basket she packed for Bart an runs smack-dab into a frozen Stouffersaurus Rex TV dinner that's just sittin' on the bottom of the ocean like a rusted-out Studebaker that fell off a transport ferry. Naturally, like any good woman of 'er day, she faints at the first sight of danger, an Bart hasta dredge 'er up like a mountain of Keystone cans out of a drainage ditch an drag 'er up on shore til she's got enough sand in 'er cleavage to make a set of Walmart tableware. Meanwhile, Dumpy runs into Hacker on the road an loses custody of his Julio an pretty quick Hacker's up at the construction site chewin' on Bart like the meatloaf special, until some guy (Chuck) busts in an tells Bart that they've found a coupla Paleozoic popsicles down in the depths, an Bart says: open a door to the ocean floor, everybody thaw them dinosaurs. Then Bart goes out to dinner with Betty while his guys haul the Jurassic larks up outta the ocean, only a little ways down the beach Hacker finds a frozen caveman on the shore an covers 'im up for safe keepin' until he can get ahold of his Geico rep to negotiate the sale. Hacker's pretty pleased with 'imself now, so he heads to the back room of the local diner to arrange transport an remind his waitress that he owns 'er cause he's big an fat an important, until she gets all weepy an goes to join the #YoTambien movement an tattle to Oprah.
Then Julio comes in to show Bart an Betty his toy dinosaurs an give a Paleontology lecture, cept that gets Hacker so hackered off that he decides to audition for the lead villain role in the next Disney movie an stomp on the kid's toys an run 'im off in the middle of a lightnin' storm that just happens to strike the two surf an turf specials lyin' on the beach an bring 'em back to life. Now, let it never be said that Bart is an irresponsible man, cause he *did* take the time to hire a drunken Irishman who looks like Royal Dano after a month-long Listerine bender on Skid Row to keep an eye on his saurian specimens, an everything woulda been just fine if the guy hadn't accidentally blown up a dynamite shack an gotten 'imself carried off by the T-Rex like an unconscious woman in a Tor Johnson movie. With that much alcohol in the old guy's system, Rex's gonna have one hell of a hangover later on. We're talkin' chunder lizard. The town prolly coulda handled the situation if it was *just* dinosaurs luggin' drunks off to be used as toothpicks, cept then the power goes out an everybody starts to panic when they realize just how long Puerto Rico's been in the dark an Bart hasta reassure everyone that they can string some radial tires together an float to Florida if it comes to that. Meanwhile, The Iceman waketh, cometh, an scareth the crapeth outta Betty's Mom while she's wanderin' around 'er house with a bowl of fruit salad stuck to 'er face, an once she hightails it into town he invites 'imself in to do a load of loincloths an hack up the HAM radio with an axe after it starts makin' Twilight Zone sounds at 'im. Then he busts the mirror into 10,000 commemorative cocaine surfaces, gets indigestion from a Reader's Digest, an gussies 'imself up in the lady's Sunday dress, until Julio finds 'im an starts feedin' 'im every ounce of food in the fridge an gettin' on his case for not hoistin' his pinky when he sips his tea. Unfortunately, the etiquette lesson gets cut short when Hacker an his goobs show up an try stuffin' Trog in the freezer so they can haul 'im around the county fair circuit encased in ice an charge hicks $2 a gander, cept that don't really appeal to Mr. Scruffalupagus, who uncorks a barrage of slapstick fu an plants a pumpkin pie right in Hacker's kisser, buyin' Julio y Glacious enough time to beat cheeks outta there.
That's about the time Bart, Betty, an Dumpy pull up in their Jeep lookin' for Betty's Mama an spot Julio an Robert Itchum doin' a little Bronto-bustin', only before they can get their attention the Trannysaurus shows up an abducts Betty to extract all 'er sexy, yet sensible fashion secrets. That's just not gonna work for ole Hairy Manderson, so he bails off Gertie an starts makin' like Toecutter from Mad Max an buries his axe right square into Rex's foot an causes some pretty serious corneal abrasion that distracts 'im long enough for the two of 'em to steal away to the caveman's private mine retreat. Then he tries to swoon Betty into becomin' Mrs. Rubble so they can do the Jurassic fark, cept while that's goin' on, Julio gets bucked outta the sauropodian saddle when Tyrannical Rex Killerson shows up to rumble in the jungle, an Julio hasta watch his Bronto-buddy get his neck bent the wrong way for the second time in one day. Fortunately, the caveman runs out an scoops up Julio before he ends up Tyranno-tartar, only by now Hacker's found 'em an climbs down into the mine from the hill above while Shreddy Rexpin stuffs his face into the openin' an tries snortin' everybody up like a line of cocaine at John Belushi's house, an so Bart an Dumpy hafta hurl flamin' booze bottles down Rex's gullet until he gets unbearable heartburn an hasta run off to look for a lagoon-sized servin' of Pepto Bismol. Meantime though, alla Rex's Hetfieldian headbangin' has caused the roof of the mine to start collapsin', an in what hasta be the caveman's Cro-Magnum opus, he heroically catches the falling support beam an holds it up while his great-to-the-4000th power grandkids escape. That's all you get; so if you wanna see how the final saurian showdown turns out you're just gonna hafta track down a copy.
Alrighty, well, in spite of how poorly just about all stop-motion animation effects have aged over the last 50+ years, you'll be hard pressed to find a dinosaur/caveman flick from the 1950s - 1960s that isn't at least a Sunday matinee/2AM cable TV classic. The only real variation between a flick like Dinosaurus and, say, One Million Years B.C. is the target audience, and even then the entries constructed around cavelady cleavage aren't anywhere near graphic enough to warrant exclusion of the kiddies. These flicks just about always tend good-natured and self aware, and are therefore well-insulated against serious criticism. It almost seems as though they're so innocuously cute that it's literally impossible to hate them. Even goin' back to the granddaddy of them all (The Lost World, circa 1925), the entertainment value holds up unusually well, because when you've got dinosaurs takin' an active role in the movie, the proceedings will undoubtedly be memorable. Sometimes those memories aren't the kind that tend to win cheap brass trophies for nerds with permanent shit-eatin' grins on their faces, but sometimes they are, and either way, you're likely to exit the movie in a better mood than you were in when you started it, which is often one of the truly underrated aspects of *any* piece of media. One also hasta wonder whether gorilla movies would've survived as the go-to monster with a basis in reality if not for King Kong because, for me, a monkey is simply no match for a dinosaur in terms of puttin' on a good show for the audience. But just when it seemed like the terrible lizards were about to take over in the popular imagination as the dominant critters, along came Mighty Joe Young and it was another four years before we got a genuine, big budget dinosaur title, which turned out to be The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms in 1953. Godzilla followed in 1954 and from then on we'd pretty well loosened the giant ape's grip on his ivory tower and splattered him onto the asphalt below, thus clearing the way for a flood of prehistoric reptile movies; some awful, most fun, and a few that still impress to this day. Of course, it goes without saying that the most successful and most popular feature to involve dinosaurs by the year 1960 wasn't actually a movie, but The Flintstones, which premiered on ABC about three months before Dinosaurus hit theaters, and whose popularity no doubt played a big role in the subsequent greenlighting of the many similarly themed movies which were to follow. Kinda funny when you think about it, but the dinosaur/caveman craze of the '60s and '70s may very well owe its existence more to Fred and Wilma Flintstone than to Godzilla.
In any event, I realize everybody's enjoyin' the wave of nostalgia currently washin' over your jaded psyches right now, but it's time to take off the rose-tinted glasses and have an objective, scientific look at all this Cretacean chicanery and find out if this old fossil has what it takes to petrify and earn itself a place in the US Film Registry, or whether it crumbles into dust at the slightest jostling. The plot, obviously, has absolutely zero credibility in terms of plausibility, but then it's not supposed to. On the one hand, you can't completely overlook things like: Neanderthals co-existing with dinosaurs, dinosaurs/cavemen freezing and remaining perfectly preserved below a tropical ocean for millions of years, or any of the aforementioned critters surviving a surprisingly rapid thawing process, but at the same time, this isn't a Discovery Channel special, and it isn't claiming to be. So while there's little question that the movie's premise is preposterous and silly, it doesn't contain the kind of smaller plot holes that tend to plague truly low budget features and, consequently, the impossibility of it all is more easily taken in stride. The acting probably isn't one of the film's strong points, as most of the primary characters tend a bit bland. Fred Engelberg is alright as the man evil enough to stomp on the plastic toys of his adopted son, but if you listen to the guy talk his accent shifts back and forth between Spanish and French, and it's really, really funny. Now, both Spanish and French are spoken on the island of St. Croix, and one could certainly assume that in the '60s both languages were more prevalent than they are today, so either accent is perfectly plausible *on its own*, but when the actor starts combining the two it gets pretty goofy. Additionally, you've got Alan Roberts, who plays Julio, and not only is he really awkward, but he's also damned obnoxious. This is compounded by some extremely asinine and stiff dialog, the best line of which hasta be: "You've gotta go! Please run, I can't push you!" as he tries to get the Brontosaurus to flee from the T-Rex. The comic relief characters are probably the best; particularly Howard Dayton, Jack Younger, and James Logan, who play Hacker's goons and the drunk assigned to keep an eye on the dinosaurs. Younger gets the best line in the movie when Hacker remarks: "I didn't know you were an anthropologist", to which Younger replies: "Not a very good one boss. I mean, I ain't been to church in years." Generally speaking, the acting is passable, but probably a little subpar if we're being honest with ourselves.
Here's who matters and why: Paul Lukather (Hands of a Stranger, Friday the 13th Part 4), Alan Roberts (The Space Children), Fred Engelberg (The Last Missile), Howard Dayton (Space Raiders, Escape from DS-3), Jack Younger (Hand of Death), James Logan (Panther Girl of the Kongo, The Mole People, The Son of Dr. Jekyll, Space Master X-7, Valley of the Dragons), Jack H. Harris (Star Slammer, Schlock, Beware! The Blob, Equinox, The Blob 1958, 4D Man).
The special effects consist primarily of stop-motion animation and puppetry to bring the dinosaurs to life, and while they're not completely abysmal - the effects guys were way outta Ray Harryhausen's league. That said, it warrants mentioning that the guy who built the dinosaurs (Marcel Delgado) had asked, and been granted, five to six weeks to do all the necessary work associated with the monsters, before being told two weeks later that they would have to be ready the following week. I can't really cut the movie a break for that, but it's pretty clear that the guy got the shaft from Universal after they'd already agreed on a time table. Unfortunately, the stop-motion just isn't as fluid as what you'd see in a Ray Harryhausen movie. The puppets are a little better, and feature more prominently in scenes where you're only seeing the dinosaurs' heads, but they're not especially impressive either. There's also a sizable volume of miniature work, which includes all the jungle scenery during the dinosaur shots, as well as the shed that gets blown up, and unfortunately, when the roof blows on what was no doubt their only miniature, the roof flies straight up in the air and tumbles end over end like a punted football. Pretty entertaining to watch, but probably not what you want happening when you need that footage to get another gig. The shooting locations are exotic and memorable, with the entire film having been shot on location in the U.S. Virgin Islands, specifically, St. Croix. The best scenes are probably the earliest, which feature an immaculate shoreline and ocean front property, but there're also scenes in the local cantina, the jungle, some nearby ruins, and a brief sequence where Julio flees the cantina and passes through town, showing off some of the local architecture. The locations all range from fair to good, but there are a *lot* of cheesy rear projection scenes shot inside vehicles, and numerous instances where they aren't able to keep the time of day straight. The soundtrack isn't too bad when judged by the standards of the time, and does at least feature a variety of tracks designed to convey specific moods, rather than a buncha generic crapola that's been composed in such a way as to be functional in as many different scenes as possible. During the opening sequence you've got some super serious horn/string music, followed shortly thereafter by a much more cheerful composition that sets the general tone of the movie for the remainder of the running time. The strings return several times throughout, and we do get a fairly somber little number after the death of the caveman, so I'd say the soundtrack punches a bit above its weight and does a good job of setting the stage and conveying the proper tone. Overall, it fails on its technical merits, but compensates just enough in the entertainment department to overcome its subpar production values. Definitely recommended to fans of cheesy old caveman/dinosaur flicks.