Planet of Dinosaurs

Trapped in a lost world of prehistoric monsters.

Year of Release: 1977
Also Known As: Planet of the Dinosaurs
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Rated: PG
Running Time: 84 minutes (1:24)
Director: James K. Shea


Louie Lawless ... Capt. Lee Norsythe
Pamela Bottaro ... Nyla
James Whitworth ... Jim
Max Thayer ... Mike
Chuck Pennington ... Chuck
Charlotte Speer ... Charlotte
Harvey Shain ... Harvey Baylor
Derna Wylde ... Derna Lee
Mary Appleseth ... Cindy


In the future, the hungriest jaws belong to flesh-eating dinosaurs.

Land on an uncharted planet with the starship Odyssey. Escape from the shuttle's crash into a murky swamp. Struggle to survive against one prehistoric monster after another.


Behold, Planet of Dinosaurs, the first fully mustache-powered film in the history of cinema! Only downside is, the energy requirements necessary to power this beast were so high that the producers insisted the women pitch in with their own mustaches, an so the only gal who refused hadda be fed to a rubber alligator right outta the chute to conserve power.

An speakin' of things that're hard to look at, I dunno about the rest of ya, but I've gotten pretty goll-durn sick of all this nasty weather we been havin' lately. I got three separate leaks in my roof, an Shankles got so P.O.'d about me usin' his litter box for a drip tray that he figured out how to hold the cassette door on the VCR open with his tail an took a crap in there. Now anytime I put my copy of Amityville II in the VCR all I get is this Rorschit inkblot test pattern. I guess Amityville II kinda looked like that already, but I still don't appreciate the little booger disrespectin' my tape player like that. Like I was sayin' though, I'm glad the weather's finally straightenin' up, cause the ground squirrels're finally startin' to pop up outta their holes, an that means it's time to go explode some rodents. Billy Hilliard, Cleave Furguson an me're plannin' to hit Skunky Hernandez' cow pasture Saturday mornin' before he pays Archie Winthrop to spray a buncha Squirrel Asphyxiator 3000 out of his crop duster an ruin our fun, an we're figurin' there oughta be a pretty good crop this year now that Skunky's baby squirrel consignment agreement with the pet shop went tits-up an he hadda release his inventory back into the wild. It's kinda sad though, cause squirrel huntin's become a lost art over the past few decades, an I think it's because a lotta hunters've lost that creative spark that made it such a great sport to begin with. One thing I tend to preach pretty heavily is the importance of puttin' your own personal touches on your kills. Take Cleave for instance; he's startin' to lose his affinity for the hunt, an I know durn well it's cause he's always bein' super careful with his shot placement so's he can stuff the little flea circuses after the fact an sell 'em to tourists. He's perverted this once great sport of ours an turned it into WORK, an that's always the beginnin' of the end for any hobby.

Billy an me on the other hand, we've studied for years with hollow-point bullets to achieve the ultimate corpse explosion, an at the risk of soundin' prideful, I gotta say - there's no better squirrel 'sploders in Chickawalka County. It's sorta like acupuncture; see, there're these secret pressure points that, when properly penetrated, create a chain reaction that causes an evisceration cascade to rip through their furry little bodies an generates a ligament shatterin' pulse that frees up all their muscles to separate from their original form in every conceivable direction, thus yielding maximum fracturing an distance. The goal is to explode the squirrel into as many half-inch or larger fragments as possible (the line hasta be drawn at half an inch, otherwise you can be countin' for hours), an then tally up the total number of pieces in relation to the number of squirrels killed to determine your parts per marmot ratio. For example, say you blow 87 squirrels into 1245 pieces, well, that's 14.3 PPM, which is decent, but nothing spectacular. You can compete against yourself, or against your friends, an it never hurts to put a little wager on it to keep things interestin'. Billy an I generally go "loser buys the next batch of burritos," but you can modify this arrangement as needed to suit your huntin' outfit. It's that camaraderie, though, that makes the system work, an with all the strategy involved in chosin' between targets based upon size an shape (the group tends to duck down after watchin' their Mama's body splinter into 67 pieces), it makes for a pretty stimulatin' outdoor activity for the whole family. As for the location of these pressure points, well, you'll just hafta discover those for yourselves, but really, that's half the fun anyhow. Feel free to write in with your own personal bests an we can compare records, but in the meantime, happy huntin'.

Ain't hardly no better way to spend a weekend than blowin' up fuzzy freeloaders out on the ranch, but one way I do know about is to spend the weekend blowin' up fuzzy freeloaders AND watchin' stop-motion dinosaurs chew on community theater actors dressed up in Buck Rogers uniforms. This flick's different than your average prehistoric push-up bra extravaganza, cause here the humans're space travelers who've crash landed a la Planet of the Apes, an they've got LASERS. I think that pretty much says it all, so if you're still not convinced, I'd suggest pouring yourself another cup of herbal tea an sippin' it with your pinky extended while indulgin' in another British costume drama on PBS. Seriously, just TRY an name three things from Hamlet that're more interestin' than these three pieces of top shelf wisdom than can only be gleaned from Planet of Dinosaurs, I dare ya. First, havin' escape pods that're incapable of traversin' space is about as useful as havin' a nun for a mistress. Second, when divin' into a lake to retrieve lost supplies, it is possible to maintain practicality and modesty by strippin' down only as far as your bra. It also helps with maintainin' your PG ratin'. An third, never take on a Triceratops without a red cape.

But if you're like me, you've prolly wondered why the Tyrannosaurus Rex in these movies is always in such a bad mood. None of the other dinosaurs act out like he does - just haulin' off an eatin' his neighbor one day for no apparent reason, I mean, who pissed in this guy's Rice Krispies anyway? Guy's the Bobby Knight of the Jurassic era, there's just no two ways about it, but I think I know why: short arms. Not only can Tyrannosaurus Rex not hug, but when he's layin' with Mrs. Rex after some Tyrannosaurus sex, it's impossible to spoon. See the problem here? The poor Rexes can NEVER reach that deeper emotional connection, post-nasty, an not only that, they can't even get close to another dino without thinkin' about anything but food on account of their teeth stickin' out farther'n their limbs, an that just feeds into their propensity to... well, feed. This leads to feelins of inadequacy, an when you've got those, there's a powerful urge to overcompensate by lashin' out at the world. This phenomenon can also be used to explain a lot about the repercussions of small hands in modern politics. Now, I'm not sayin' these physical deformities makes their behavior acceptable, but it is important to understand the motivations of these creatures so's we can better predict future actions an, ideally, escape with our heads intact. So the next time you run into mean ole Mr. T-Rex, have pity on da fool, an give 'im a big hug, it just might make all the difference.

The movie begins on this space ship made from PVC pipe and an old discarded Oreck upright, only the bag on the sucker's reached maximum capacity an's about to blow out like an inner tube bubble, an so the ship's crew hasta ditch out in this little outer space dinghy after the Star Trek noises start makin' their ears bleed. Then the chairman of the Tattooine Tourism Board (Harvey) comes on TV to yell at Captain R. Lee Wormy about how all his Eagles albums were on that ship an that he's gonna transfer has ass to the front lines in the war against the Cylons if anything happens to his Bob Pinciotti haircut. So Douche Lee takes the ship down onto a nearby planet where they crash into a lake like Charleton Heston in Planet of the Apes, an everybody hasta crawl outta this cardboard escape port that looks like it leads into the theater on the Satellite of Love. Unfortunately, somebody who will remain nameless (CINDY) left the transmitter floatin' out in the drink, an when she swims out to retrieve it she ends up gettin' 'er rack snacked by this gnarly salamonster thing that eats 'er up like a racist joke at an NRA rally. This does not bode well for our heroes, or our potential breast count, so the group whips out their industrial strength laser pointers an Harvey's secretary (Derna) drops one into a river an ruins the dilithium naquadah calcinator jobby inside an Captain Featherhair is P.O.'d cause he checked all the lasers out under his own name an George Lucas is holdin' his credit card as collateral. The group eventually resumes trudging, but after awhile they hear this cranky, primordial snarlin' noise, an Officer Mike tells everybody they'd prolly better get movin' cause he heard a noise like that one time on Wild Kingdom an seemed to recall that the closin' credits included a line that started with the words "in loving memory of..." Then everybody crashes for the night, cept by the time mornin' rolls around Papa Jupiter from The Hills Have Eyes (Jim) hasta rouse Captain "Five Foot Three" Lee from his slumber to ask what they oughta do about the Brontosaurus peein' in their water supply. Lee takes a good hard look at his troupe an tells Papa Jupe that they'd best get a move on before Gertie mistakes 'em for garden vegetables an starts chowin' down.

So the group packs up their gear an resumes the search for Raquel Welch, only after awhile they come across a buncha footprints that look like that pitchfork deal King Triton carries around in The Little Mermaid an a half-eaten dinosaur corpse, an all the sudden everybody starts realizin' why the season passes at Jurassic Park are so cheap. Then they stop a minute so this lady who looks like Adrienne Barbeau's wicked stepmother (Charlotte) can run 'er Gameboy over some plants, cept after awhile it starts makin' a god-awful racket an draws the ire of a Rhinosaurus an a T-Rex who circle each other until Teddy Rexpin chews the head offa the challenger. Jobber E. Lee don't want his dependents to end up dino dinner mints, so he has 'em climb up this rocky hillside until they find a cave that leads to the surface of a plateau where Harvey an Nyla find a nest fulla eggs the size of Virginia Bell's chest bursters. Needless to say, Mama Triceratops is P.O.'d, an she goes stampedin' after Harvey so he'll le'go 'er eggos an corners 'im on the edge of a cliff where she proceeds to gore 'im through the gizzards an deposit 'im over the edge like spit off an overpass. That's at least one bigwig who missed out on a golden parachute, although he did leave with a generous package severance. Then everybody starts reinventin' the wheel while Jupiter sulks cause he thinks they oughta be tryin' to outfit pterodactyls with beverage carts an stewardesses like in The Flintstones, only Nyla wanders off to try laserin' off 'er mustache an ends up gettin' attacked by a spider the size of a catcher's mitt, an Jupiter hasta come spear it to death after failin' to locate a newspaper big enough to handle the job. Papa Jupe's still itchin' to smear blood all over his face an go native like in Lord of the Flies, so he refuses to join in the festivities once the rest of the clan finishes erectin' a border wall an mailin' the bill out to the T-Rex, which is a real shame, cause everybody ends up gettin' hammered on prehistoric hooch an gets to watch Derna do the lap dance of the seven veils an sing Auld Lang Syne like a brokerage firm office tramp at a New Year's Eve party.

The next mornin', Jupiter sends Chuck an Charlotte out to spread aluminum foil all over the desert in case Miles O'Keeffe happens to be hang glidin' overhead, only before they get finished this big angry iguanapottamus shows up an mistakes Charlotte for Betty Rubble on account of 'er blue dress, an Papa Jupe hasta come fire his laser into its hinder to scare it off. Papa Jupe's proppa pissed, so he rallies the troops, oils up Chuck's pecs, an the group goes chasin' after Iggy Koopa lookin' to finish the job. Unfortunately, before they can track it down, the Secretary of Steaks, Tyrannical Rex Killerson comes wanderin' by an turns Iggy's skull into a wiffle ball. In light of this, Captain Lee an the Jupe-man decide that digestion is lookin' like a nasty side effect of valor, only everybody's still so inspired by the rousing presence of Chuck's beefiness that they decide to pick on this disheveled ole ostrich with mange instead, an once Mike puts an arrow into its guts, the gang starts gettin' rowdy an threatenin' to sing the "I Feel Like Chicken Tonight" song. Then everybody heads home to fry up a fresh bucket of extra crispy, cept they get so hung up tryin' to reverse-engineer The Colonel's 11 secret herbs an spices they barely notice when the Tyrannosaurus Wrecks their gate like an older brother kickin' his way through a Lincoln Log village, an next thing you know he's headed home to pick whats left of Derna outta his teeth. Jupiter's supremely hacked off now, an he wants a piece of the thunder lizard's prehistoric posterior, so they come up with this plan that involves murderin' a horny spikeosaurus thing an havin' Mike brew up another batch of his hard lemonade so they can stuff it up its reptilian rectum like a Thanksgivin' turkey an murder the Mesozoic monster once he's muddled from the mickey. Unfortunately, when they go luggin' their roofie-laced lizard up to Bowser's rumpus room, he's just gettin' home from bowlin' league, an he's so P.O.'d about bein' benched for the 150 millionth season in a row that he's in no mood for house warmin' gifts. Gonna cut the review off here, so if you wanna find out who's left standin' at the end of this thing, you'll just hafta find your own copy an give it a spin.

Alrighty, there ya have it, Planet of Dinosaurs. Not Planet of THE Dinosaurs, just Planet of Dinosaurs. We're basically talkin' Planet of the Apes meets Caveman, and what it lacks on a technical level, it more than makes up for in sheer goofiness. Although it can get a little tricky attempting to determine which bits are intentionally funny and which aren't. It seems to me that the producers probably wanted to do a serious movie, but realized that was gonna be impossible to pull off given their budgetary restraints, so they went ahead and inserted a comic relief character and some intentionally ridiculous dialog to cover their butts in case the movie didn't go over as a serious film upon its release. It's essentially like buying someone two birthday presents in case they don't like the first one, and claiming it was a gag gift all along when they hate it. It was also a useful defense for the inevitable day when you'd be interviewing for another gig and the guy behind the desk brings up some of your more embarrassing projects. That's when you claim the whole thing was a farce and throw out the examples of deliberate sabotage as proof and pray they buy it. That's really just speculation on my part, but from where I'm sitting *most* of what's wrong with this movie is not deliberate, and for that reason I think we can overlook the occasional attempts to save face. Planet of Dinosaurs may not be the most technically competent among the 1950s - 1970s lizard and loincloth features, but it's right up there in terms of entertainment value, and let's be clear about one thing; the crew knew exactly what they were doing with what budget they did have. They pumped every last dollar into the dinosaur effects and pretty much said to hell with the rest of the movie, and at the end of the day this approach works because the dinosaurs are the only reason we're watching anyway. Cavemen are a dime a dozen, and without a few stop-motion reptiles chasin' after them, your movie's not only gonna disappoint, but it'll die a swift, merciless death at the box office. They had sense enough not to bother courting any established actors (which in movies with this kinda budget, we're usually talking about somebody who was famous for a few years 20+ years ago), there's no attempt made at fleshing out the characters, and of course, it goes without saying - there's no plot gettin' in the way of the story. You paid for a Planet of Dinosaurs, and you're gonna get a Planet of Dinosaurs, and whatever else you might say about it, the dinosaur footage in this flick was subsequently edited into seven other movies, so really, how bad could it be?

Now for the moment of truth. Time to find out if ole Rex can carry the weight of this thing on his back, or whether he's bitten off more than he can chew. The plot is, of course, pretty unrealistic. That said, at the end of the day, not only does nobody care whether it's realistic or not, but even if you do, you can always trot out that old "in the vastness of the universe" explanation to keep it within the realm of possibility. Of course, one does wonder why the crew would believe themselves better off landing on an alien planet rather than just waiting for a rescue ship, or why the escape pod seems incapable of getting them back to civilization. So the movie does have its share of faulty reasoning on display, and from a technical perspective, these are things that cannot be overlooked. The acting is, without question, the flick's biggest drawback. We've got two kinds of performances here; bad, and wooden, and if you think "wooden" *is* bad, then you probably already see where this is going. James Whitworth has two emotions in this flick; bored and frustrated, and that's one more emotion than everyone else has. The rest of the cast ranges between "laughably incompetent" and "community theater understudy," and if you were to attempt to rank them in order from best to worst, I think the simplest metric would be to just count up who's got the most lines.

Here's who matters and why: Harvey Shain (Day of the Nightmare), Max Thayer (Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks), Charlotte Speer (Appointment with Fear), James Whitworth (The Hills Have Eyes 1977, Sasqua). I know, you're all terribly surprised.

The special effects are where the movie shines, and more importantly, where it needs to. Granted, in this modern age of computer generated graphics, most people are used to slick, smooth imagery that flows flawlessly and looks like absolute crap, but in the olden days, we tended to have jerky, unsteady imagery that seemed a little desynced and looked marginally less like crap, so the stop-motion animation in this flick is probably gonna be a little hard to swallow for people who have trouble grasping the idea of objects actually existing in some physical form. That said, if you're okay with stop-motion, there's a lot of really good stuff in this one, including a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Brontosaurus, multiple Stegosauruses, a few Struthiomimuses, a Triceratops, a giant spider, and a cameo by the Rhedosaurus from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. The T-Rex is great, as is the Triceratops (except the scene where it gores Harvey and drops him from the cliff, which is hilariously bad), Rhedosaurus, and the close up shots of the Stegosaurus. That said, the Struthiomimus scenes, and the distance shots of the Stegosauruses don't seem to fit into their backgrounds properly, while the sequence with the spider is okay when it's not on screen with its human counterpart, but pretty bad when it is, due to sloppy superimposition. You've also got a very brief shot of whatever-it-is that eats the blonde gal when they first land (it's on the screen too briefly to do much damage), the space ships (okay, if bizarrely designed), some laser blasts (okay, but obviously not on par with Star Wars), the half eaten dino corpse (good), and that god-awful scene where everyone hops through a circular cardboard cutout to escape the ship. I realize that doesn't sound like a sterling assessment overall, but the important ones are pretty good.

The shooting locations are alright, but pretty drab and colorless for the better half of the movie. We're talkin' mostly desolate, rocky cliffs in the California desert, which will have been chosen due to their spaciousness, and the subsequent ease with which you can superimpose the creature effects during post production. Still, it must be pointed out that these locations don't make any sense from the standpoint that critters this big would probably prefer areas where they could get food and water, so while they might *look* okay, they really don't work on a biological level. The soundtrack is the second strongest aspect of the movie, and may well be the synthiest composition in the history of film. The sound effects are super cheesy as well, and feature a lot of really weird stuff that ranges from birthday party noise makers, to sounds that can be best described as robot farts. It actually sounds a lot like the end credits to Super Mario World at times, which doesn't make any sense, but is the case nonetheless, and strange as all this In Search Of-esque music is, it does somehow manage to complement the general tone of the movie, so I'm calling the score a big net positive. Overall, it fails on a technical level, but it's entertaining enough to make up that deficit when considering the movie's fun factor. So if you like your movies cheesy with a side of reasonable pacing, definitely check this one out.

Rating: 60%