[August 25, 1960] Accurate Paleontology (Dinosaurus!)

Another weekend, another Jack Harris production.  Harris has made a name for himself cranking out colorful, enjoyable B-movie fare, and his latest contribution to the cinematic universe, Dinosaurus!, is no exception.

Make no mistake: Harris has yet to produce a masterpiece.  But then, I don’t think that’s his goal.  Rather, he creates fun monsters and cool heroes to fight them.  All while offering up a ear-catching soundtrack.

This time around, Harris has traded in the frenetic jazz for soothing calypso, as befits the setting of Dinosaurus!–the idyllic Caribbean paradise of St. Croix. 

In contrast to his previous movies, The Blob and The 4D Man, Dinosaurus! opens up right quick with the action.  In brief, a test of underwater explosives off the coast of the island uncovers a pair of dinosaurs and a caveman, all of whom have been frozen solid for ages at the bottom of the sea.  They are hauled ashore for investigation, whereupon they thaw and wreak havoc upon the island.  But the real monster of the piece isn’t one of the dinosaurs or a prehistoric Neanderthal.  It’s a sinister island manager named Hacker, who treats the islanders like his property, and who has designs on seizing the ancient creatures for his own profit.

Beefcake, two for one sale, with a cheesecake dessert–but you have to order a side of slime…

Rather than spoil the plot, for the movie is worth watching (so long as you understand what you’ll be getting), I’ll just tell you the things I learned during the course of the film:

1) Brontosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, and Neanderthals lived contemporaneously;

2) Creatures can be quick-frozen such that they will return to life, no worse for wear, once exposed to warm sun and rain;

3) Tyrannosaurs are malicious, spiteful creatures; they are motivated by murder and mayhem rather than by hunger;

4) Brontosaurs are adorable and make excellent steeds;

5) Neanderthals are noble, self-sacrificing creatures, but they lack the ability to speak.  They also are best used as comic relief;

6) Stop-motion and puppet dinosaurs are much more satisfying to watch than lizards with taped-on accoutrements;

7) Harris hopes to make a sequel even though there is no way to continue the storyline.

Rest assured that the good guys win in the end, although not without taking casualties–to wit, an Irishman and a Brontosaurus.  I suspect that, if my daughter had been with me, she would have walked out when the sauropod bought the farm.  I know I was tempted.

My magazine subscriptions should be here by tomorrow, so I’ll have the first revew of the October 1960 issues next time around!

8 thoughts on “[August 25, 1960] Accurate Paleontology (Dinosaurus!)”

  1. Thanks for the warning about the poor brontosaur. There are times when I am tempted to watch any movie set in warm, sunny places like the Caribbean.

    My theory about why tyrannosaurs always rampage on waking is that winter, when they’re deep frozen, is their musth, when they fight for mates. That, or no one offered them coffee.

  2. I wonder if they will ever make a decent dinosaur movie. I suppose part of the problem is that the really popular dinos are from era millions of years apart. People want to see a tyrannosaur and a brontosaur and a triceratops and maybe a stegosaurus. But how do you come up with a way to make them all show up at the same time. In any case, if they ever do it will have to be stop motion. How else will you get something that looks halfway decent?

    Why they always have to include at least one caveman at the same time, I have no idea. Too many people who think the dinosaurs didn’t make onto the ark or something, I guess. (Apropos cavemen, ABC apparently has a cartoon stone age Honeymooners on the lineup for the new TV season.)

    The Neanderthaler not talking may be the most scientifically accurate thing in the whole movie. At least, there’s a theory that they couldn’t talk, because no one has ever found a hyoid bone in a Neanderthal context. Of course, that’s trying to prove a negative, so who knows?

    And I really hate this business of showing a giant question mark after The End. I think the first time I saw it was The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Gah! I hate it.

    1. So long as most schools refuse to teach Evolution, we’re going to be stuck with scientific boners like contemporaneous Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosauruses and Brontosaurus-riding cavemen.  I know we like to think that the good guys won in Inherit the Wind, but it was really a tactical retreat.

  3. I have to agree with Karl that this was not very good.  Maybe it was the silly comedy, or maybe it’s just that I’m not crazy about dinosaur flicks.

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