Another fun year at Dragoncon and things for me almost went as planned. Oh I had fun people watching, going to the panels, people watching, hanging out with friends, people watching, spending money at the vendors market, and more people watching. No, the problem was my apparently not setting the blog for yesterday to post like I had with the others but instead, simply saving it as a draft. Not a big problem as I was easily able to correct it. But it was still a bit annoying to deal with. Oh well, I had several movies that came in over the weekend while I was at Dragoncon. So let’s get this week started with the first of those movies, Dinosaurus!.
The plot: An American company is building a harbor on a small Caribbean island and are using underwater explosives to help prep for the foundation. Most of the islanders are happy for the new harbor but Mike Hacker, the local island boss, is upset with the workers and constantly finding ways to delay the project. As the company foreman, Bart Thompson, is overseeing some explosions, he notes that some of the charges don’t go off and warns people to stay away from the water. As he is walking by, he notices one of his workers, Dumpy, giving Julio, a local boy, a ride on his bulldozer and chastises him for it, as Hacker is Julio’s guardian. Suddenly, they notice a boat approaching them and try to warn them away but when the driver, Betty, doesn’t turn back, Bart goes out to try and stop her. Before Bart can reach her, a charge goes off in front of her, causing the container she was carrying to fall overboard and when Bart reaches her, she dives in after it, with Bart following her. As Betty swims through the area, she sees the head of a Tyrannosaurus coming out of the sand and it scares her enough that she nearly drowns but Bart manages to save her. After making sure she is ok, Bart has another worker, Chuck, check the area while he talks with Betty but just then, Hacker shows up and starts arguing with Bart over the harbor and the lack of cooperation Hacker has been giving. Chuck bursts into the hut and tells Bart that there are two dinosaurs underwater, and Bart decides to move them on the beach so they can continue working, then has Hacker send a message to the Smithsonian concerning the dinosaurs. As the workers pull up the dinosaurs, the Tyrannosaurus and a Brontosaurus, a crowd gathers and Julio is excited to see them as he is constantly reading about them. Bart has Chuck station a guard to watch over the creatures and then everyone heads into town for dinner but Hacker sneaks back to the area and finds a frozen caveman hidden in the mud and quickly stashes it out of site. In town, Hacker meets with two men and makes plans to sell the caveman to the mainland and burns the note Bart gave him to send to the Smithsonian. Meanwhile, Julio brings his dinosaur toys to the cantina to show Bart and Betty but Hacker sees him and goes to punish Julio, breaking one of his toys and Julio runs away, with Bart going after him but he is unable to find him. Back at the work site, a bolt of lightning strikes the dinosaurs and ends up reviving them. Meanwhile, the caveman also ends up being revived and tries to attack the guard before it runs into the woods. The guard goes outside to see where it might have gone and notices the missing dinosaurs. He sees the Tyrannosaurus and tries to escape but when it corners him, he tries to use some dynamite against it but the dinosaur grabs him and walks off while the dynamite ends up blowing the command hut. Back in the cantina, Bart and the others hear the explosion and go to see what happened, while Hacker and his men head out as they fear the men will find the caveman. When they reach the work site, they find no sign of the dinosaurs or the worker but see some tracks showing the dinosaurs had come back to life, which Bart doesn’t want to believe until he hears the creatures roaring out in the jungle. Bart spies Hacker and his men looking around some bushes, with Hacker saying they are looking for Julio, and they try to figure out what to do. Learning that they have no means of communication at the moment, Bart decides to have everyone head up to an old fort and plans to have his men help reinforce it. Hacker and his men decide to keep looking for Julio, but in reality are looking for the caveman, while Bart and Betty go to her parent’s house, where he father has a ham radio set. Meanwhile, Julio is still running through the woods sees the Tyrannosaurus attack a bus full of people. Julio then runs into the Brontosaurus and realizes that it is friendly and has it run when they hear the Tyrannosaurus approaching. Elsewhere, the caveman approaches a house and ends up scaring the woman that lives there, causing her to get in her car and drive off. The caveman approaches the house again and manages to get inside, where he finds a bat and some modern axes but when he hears the ham radio set go off, he destroys it with the axe. The caveman then explores the rest of the house and ends up destroying some of the things inside. When Julio enters the house looking for Betty, he finds the caveman and tries to befriend him. When Hacker and his men track the caveman to the house, the caveman manages to fend them off and then Julio leads it outside. When Bart, Betty, and Dumpy arrive at the house, they find the place a mess and no sign of anyone else. They get in touch with Chuck at the fort and as they look around, Bart finds Hackers jeep and wonders how he is involved with the mess inside. Betty sees Julio and the caveman riding on the Brontosaurus and chases after them, yelling at Bart and Dumpy to follow her. Meanwhile, Julio is enjoying riding on the dinosaur but the caveman suddenly covers his mouth as they hear the Tyrannosaurus nearby. When Betty calls out to them, Julio tries warning Betty about the dinosaur and the caveman has the Brontosaurus run off with Julio while he goes and rescues Betty. The caveman takes Betty to a nearby abandoned mine, where it tries to make her cook some food. Meanwhile, the Tyrannosaurus continues to chase after the Brontosaurus and eventually catches up to it and the two dinosaurs begin fighting. Julio, who had fallen off the dinosaur, tries to help his friend by throwing rocks at the Tyrannosaurus. Bart and Dumpy witness the fight, as does the caveman and Betty, and when they see Julio trying to help, they all want to help Julio. When the Tyrannosaurus kills the Brontosaurus, the Tyrannosaurus turns it’s attention to Julio but the caveman manages to rescue him and takes him back to the cave. Hacker watches as the Tyrannosaurus tries to get in the cave after the caveman and tries to convince his men to help him but they run away from the dinosaur. Meanwhile, Bart and Dumpy reach the cave and try using moltov cocktails to drive it away but it doesn’t work. Hacker manages to make it inside and wounds the caveman when it tries to attack him but as the Tyrannosaurus continues to try and get in the mine, Hacker decides to flee and ends up being crushed by some falling rocks while the caveman braces a support beam to keep Betty and Julio safe. Bart and Dumpy manages to drive off the Tyrannosaurus and go inside the cave, where they find Betty and Julio and get them to safety but when Bart tries to help the caveman, the caveman signals for him to go before he ends up being killed by the cave in. Reaching the fort, Bart and the others make plans for when the dinosaur reaches them and light a moat of oil to keep the creature at bay when it does show up. Bart gets in one of the diggers to try and knock the dinosaur off of the cliff and manages to succeed. As the dinosaur sinks into the ocean, Julio, Betty and some others race to congratulate Bart and when they notice a passing ship, everone in the fort begins to wave to the ship to get it’s attention, but the ship’s passengers simply assume it is the people being excited in seeing a ship.
Dinosaurus! got mixed to positive reviews from the critics, holding a 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the majority of the critics felt that the movie was extremely goofy but argued on whether that made it enjoyable. Both dinosaur models would wind up being used on TV shows, with the Brontosaurus appearing in an episode of The Twilight Zone while the Tyrannosaurus would show up in Gilligan’s Island. The leading role was intended for Steve McQueen, but for some reason, he was never offered it. Dinosaurus! was made on a budget of $450,000 and was shown on a double billing with SOS Pacific.
This is one of those movies I actually remember thinking as a kid that the dinosaurs looked stupid. Years later, they still look stupid. This was one of those movies that honestly seemed to try and be too cute/family friendly to really be effective. The acting was decent, with Fred Engleberg (Hacker) actually turning in some of the best work in his role. I also liked Gregg Martell (the caveman) as he had some funny scenes when he was investigating the house, especially the part where he goes into the bathroom off screen and you hear a toilet flush. The expression on his face when he comes running out of there was really funny. The plot was fairly basic but they did a decent job of moving the story along but the ending scene with the ship just felt stupid. The special effects were pretty bad but part of that might be due to the rush on making the dinosaur models as only half the originally scheduled time was given for them to be made. This is probably one of the better examples of a low budget movie and unfortunately, it doesn’t quite make it to being highly enjoyable because of the low budget aspects.
Rating: 2 out of 5