You know what I love? Movies featuring giant monsters. You know who else likes these types of movies? The director of today’s movie. In fact, director Bert I. Gordon was nicknamed “Mister B.I.G.” was not just because it was his initials, but because he tended to use rear screen projection to create several movies the stared giant monsters. I have a couple of his movies and have already reviewed several of them but today’s movie is the first movie that he filmed. So let’s see how well Mister B.I.G. did with King Dinosaur.
The plot: On March 18th, a message is sent to Washington, explaining that a new planet had appeared in the solar system and was close enough to Earth that it was possible for astronauts to travel to it. Construction begins on a new rocket as astronomers begin to get cleared pictures of the new planet, named Nova, and they show that plant life does exist on Nova. As numerous tests are done to ensure the safety of the astronauts, the crew is finally selected for the mission and after several months since it was first discovered, Dr. Richard Gordon, Dr. Nora Pierce, Dr. Ralph Martin, and Dr. Patricia Bennett take off for Nova. After months of travel, the four scientists arrive on Nova and after doing some tests on the atmosphere, determine it is safe to remove their space suits. Seeing animals similar to ones on Earth, the group begin to explore and take sample of the area, noting a strange island in the middle of a nearby lake. As night approaches, they wind up lost in the woods and are forced to make camp for the night, with Richard and Ralph taking turns at watch. During Ralph’s turn at watch, he goes for a walk with Patricia, who happens to be his fiance, and is attacked by an alligator. Richard and Nora tend to his wounds and in the morning, they leave to find their way back to the rocket for supplies. While they are gone, Ralph wakes up to find a giant ant approaching the camp and manages to kill it. When Richard and Nora return, they bring with them a friendly mammal (possibly a lemur or some other prosimian creature) named Joe. The next day, Richard and Nora decide to explore Patricia does her experiments and Ralph continues recuperating. As they approach the island, the see a large flock of vultures circling overhead, leading them to believe that there is some sort of food source on the island. Arriving on the island, they hear what appears to be thunder but as they continue exploring, they see a large dinosaur heading towards them. Richard shoots it with his rifle but the bullets have no effect and they are forced to hide in a cave, with Richard getting injured as he retrieves Joe from outside the cave. As the dinosaur attempts to dig it’s way into the cave after them, a second dinosaur approaches and the two creatures begin fighting outside the cave. With the creatures distracted, Richard manages to shoot a flare to signal Ralph and Patricia for help and the two head out to help their friends. Meanwhile, the first dinosaur, which Richard says looks like a Tyrannosaurus Rex, manages to kill the other dinosaur and goes back to trying to get into the cave. When Ralph and Patricia arrive on the island, they find the T-Rex still trying to get into the cave, just as yet another dinosaur appears and begins to fight the T-Rex. Richard and Nora use the fight to escape from the cave and rejoin the other two, as Ralph explains that he brought the atom bomb and sets it to detonate in 30 minutes. The four people head back to their rafts, dodging other giant monsters and being chased by the T-Rex the entire time. The four people make it to the rafts and manage to paddle back across the lake and take cover behind a small hill before the bomb explodes, destroying the island. As they watch the mushroom cloud expand skyward, Richard remarks that they brought civilization to Planet Nova, before they had back to their ship to begin the voyage home.
You know, I honestly can’t tell if this is one of those “so bad it’s good” type movies or not. In either case, this is not a good movie. The acting wasn’t that good and the characters were even worse. No such thing as equality here as Richard was the leader and the women were often portrayed as unable to do anything but scream and cry. The story was pretty basic with the whole discovery of a new world and going to explore it. The writing was ok at best, though there were two things that did stand out. The first was a bit of sarcasm, where during the night before Richard and Nora went to the island, Richard was on watch and saw a python approach the camp and slither next to, and over, Ralph. Ralph woke up and watched the snake slither away and the next morning he commented about how nothing beats a good relaxing night’s sleep, while staring at Richard. The next was the end of the movie, with Richard’s comments about bringing civilization to Nova, after the had used an atomic bomb to destroy the island. I’m pretty sure that was a shot at how society was gearing itself towards atomic war back then. The special effects could have been better as there were times were people hands or props were unintentionally caught on camera when they shouldn’t have. As for the animals themselves, I don’t know what rules there were about not harming animals back then but they were definitely not treated well in this movie. Joe was continuously slung about by his tail and the iguana looked like it was seriously injured when it was fighting the alligator. Not something I would recommend but if anything, it is worth watching just to see how far Bert I. Gordon progressed in his style since this movie.
Rating: 2 out of 5