So we are finished with all of the monkey business (sorry, couldn’t resist) and now we are heading to a planet with some different animals in the forefront. Now being that this movie features dinosaurs, you would think that this would be one of those movies that I would have seen many, many times as a kid. However, the first time I saw this was actually on YouTube about 10 years ago, back when they had the limit on video length. It was a little odd watching this movie broken into 12-15 minute clips but it definitely got my interest. So I decided to buy the DVD a while ago but, as my luck would have it, it is out-of-print (currently it is still sitting in my cart since I “ordered” it on Amazon even though I tried cancelling it). Luckily, I am good at finding things on Ebay as I was able to find a copy of the DVD for cheap, which brings us to today’s movie, Planet Of The Dinosaurs.
The plot: When an accident occurs aboard the space ship Odyssey, Captain Lee Norsythe is able to get some of the crew (Jim, Nyla, Charlotte, Mike, Chuck, and Cindy) and passengers (business man Harvey Baylor and his secretary Derna Lee) into an escape shuttle and jettison before the ship explodes. As they try to figure out their options, they notice a nearby planet and head towards it, where they crash into a sea and are forced to swim to shore before the ship sinks. When they get to shore, Harvey complains about their being lost and they realize that the distress beacon did not make it to shore with them. Chuck and Cindy, swim out to look for it but Cindy is attacked and killed by a strange creature and Chuck is ordered to swim back to shore. After opening one of the crates to retrieve some laser rifles, Lee orders everyone to head away from the sea, as they don’t know if the creature is amphibious. As they come to a river, Derna refuses to go in the water so Mike gives her one of the rifles to hold but she ends up slipping and ruining the rifle when it is dropped in the water. Making camp for the night, they hear an animal roaring in the distance and wonder what it could be. The next morning, they discover a brontosaurus nearby and realize that the planet they are on appears to be following Earth’s evolutionary history, only millions of years behind where they are now. When they see the corpse of a half eaten dinosaur further ahead, they realize that there are dangerous predators around and Lee wants to keep moving. During a rest stop, they find them selves trapped by a stegosaurus and tyrannosaurus and after the tyrannosaurus kills the stegosaurus, they move out, with Lee suggesting making their way to a plateau where the larger dinosaurs can’t reach them. Beginning their climb up the cliffs, Nyla looses her footing and causes the crate of food supplies she was carrying to fall down the cliff, along with another rifle, but they are forced to press ahead. When they reach a cave, they stop for a rest and Lee sends Nyla and Harvey to scout an opening at the top. When the two climb out and look around, Harvey finds some eggs buried in the sand and calls Nyla over but as they look at the eggs, a styracosaurus suddenly appears and roars at them. Harvey grabs the rifle from Nyla and tries shooting the dinosaur but it shrugs off the blast and charges at Harvey, who tries to run but finds himself trapped at the edge of the cliff and ends up impaled on the dinosaur’s front horn and tossed off the cliff. Jim and Lee arrive to find a shocked Nyla and after heading down to bury Harvey, Lee wants to continue looking for a safe place to wait for rescue .Jim starts arguing with Lee, saying that they are stuck on the planet and they should be working on making a civilization for themselves instead of running and hiding but the others agree with Lee. They all get to work on building a stockade to keep the dinosaurs out but Lee comments to Nyla about Jim’s seeming to question everything he does now. Nyla speaks with both Lee and Jim about their actions towards each other but the both feel the other is wrong about what is best about their survival. When Charlotte is attacked by a small therapod, Chuck and Jim manage to scare it off and Jim chastises Lee over his idea that they will be safe there and decides to chase after the injured dinosaur and the others agree. They follow the dinosaur’s tracks but find that it was attacked and killed by an even larger carnivore and they decide to make their way back to camp. The next day, they hunt and kill a small dinosaur for food and as they are all eating, Charlotte speaks with Nyla about Lee and Jim, wondering if they should let Jim lead as he has more survival experience than Lee. Later, Chuck and Charlotte are spending some time to themselves by the barricade when the tyrannosaurus appears and easily smashes the barricade as it chases after them. The people all run further up the mountain but Derna goes back for the rifle and the tyrannosaurus grabs her in it’s mouth and walks off. Jim wants to find the beast’s lair and kill it and so they track it down but when they find the lair, Jim and Lee argue over the best course of action. Lee wants to try and poison it by using a dead animal covered in poisonous berry juice, as a way to prevent more people from dying. After killing a small kentrosaurus, they coat it in berry juice and drag it towards the tyrannosaurs’ lair but the dinosaur comes up from behind them and ends up killing Mike. Jim decides to try his idea of coating large spears with the berry juice and luring the tyrannosaur into a trap but Lee wants to head towards a nearby valley where he feels they will be safer. The others refuse to leave and when the they hear thr tyrannosaurs roar, Lee decides to lure it away from the others, as their trap isn’t finished. Lee manages to distract the tyrannosaurus and ends up leading it to a rhedosaurus, which the tyrannosaurus kills and takes back to it’s lair. With their trap finished, they all head to the dinosaur’s lair and taunt it into chasing after them and it ends up impaling itself on the poisoned spears and is killed, and the people celebrate their victory. Sometime later, they group is shown to have built a house and a pond in the valley, and Chuck and Charlotte have a child. As the men are working on building a wall, Charlotte asks Nyla if they will ever be rescued and Nyla says it doesn’t even matter now.
There is a lot of good to be said about this movie, which is good because this is one of those so bad it’s good movies that most people won’t like. The bad is definitely the acting. Many of the characters were relatively monotone in their dialogue, even when they should be expressing more emotion they just felt flat. Add to that the screaming from the girls mixed with the bad, make that terrible, facial expressions and it is enough to drive you mad. The story itself is actually pretty decent, as the concept of travelling in space and landing on a planet similar to Earth’s prehistoric past has been done in science fiction before, and has been done since this movie first came out. The majority of the budget in this low budget movie was used for the stop motion animation of the dinosaurs and that was really well done. There was even a nod to Ray Harryhausen as one of the dinosaurs in the film was a rhedosaurus, made famous in The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Of course, with all the budget spent on that, other things had to suffer, such as the scenes with the space ship at the beginning of the movie. Bad acting aside, this is a fun sci-fi movie and worth giving a shot.
Rating: 3 out of 5