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Dinosaur movies

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MichiganJ
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Dinosaur movies

Postby MichiganJ » October 27th, 2010, 5:21 pm

Last weekend I watched some dinosaur movies and figured they needed a thread of their own.

The Lost World (1960) Somehow this film eluded me in my youth so this was the first time I'd seen this version. Like many films directed by Irwin Allen, there is quite the "cheese factor" at play, and unfortunately here, it ain't gouda. With the exception of Claude Rains (in full red beard, stash and hair) the entire (too) large cast over act, many of them embarrassingly so. Jill St. John delivers every line like she's trying to reach the cheap seats and Fernando Lamas (who looks "marvelous"), plays the helicopter pilot who always has his guitar with him (which only has four strings) and can't keep from breaking out into song.

However, who really cares about the acting or even the plot in a dinosaur movie, right? What about the dinosaurs? Ugh. Even as a kid I hated when the dinosaurs were just photo-enlarged lizards, and that's what Allen gives us here. To make matters worse, the poor lizards are adorned with accoutrements like horns and plates, which are glued-on and make them look ridiculous. Allen actually has two of these lizards fight each other which, knowing they are real live creatures, is not only not entertaining, but I would have thought even in 1960, it would have been outlawed. That he actually has Raines (Professor Challenger) identify one of these iguanas with glued-on plates on its back as a "brontosaurus" would have had this nine-year old yelling questionable things at the screen. (Clearly, if it resembled any known dinosaur at all, those plates would have made it a "stegosaurus".) The film ends with another of these atrocities. Challenger drops an egg and out hops a real and little iguana. He shouts, "A Tyrannosaurus Rex!"……….Professor my eye.

The good news is that the DVD includes a bonus DVD which contains the 1925 version of The Lost World. Now here's a movie. As a kid my public library had a three-reel 8mm version of this and I took it out every chance I could get. Great plot, cast (Bessie Love and Wallace Beery as Challenger ) and dinosaurs, dinosaurs, dinosaurs. My hero, Willis (King Kong) O'Brien did the animation and it's terrific. The allosaurus-triceratops fight is great (and one I reenacted a lot with my plastic dinosaurs), and best of all is the brontosaurus, especially when he wrecks havoc in the streets of London. (It's still difficult for me to believe that there's no longer such a thing as a brontosaurus. I still remember the detailed drawings in my "How and Why Book on Dinosaurs". Then again, my "How and Why Book on the Planets" had some cool pictures of Pluto, too….). The silent version of The Lost World is really a great film and the version included in this DVD is one of the most complete I've seen.

Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) Windsor McCay's delightful animated film has the real McCay making a bet with a friend that he can make a dinosaur live again. Six months and 10,000 drawings later and Gertie does live, emerging form her cave and doing some tricks and lots of eating (of stumps and things, but not people...unfortunately). A real treat.
"Let's be independent together." Dr. Hermey DDS

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MichiganJ
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Re: Dinosaur movies

Postby MichiganJ » December 21st, 2010, 1:42 pm

I think it was John Ford who said, "One thing every good Western needs….Dinosaurs!", which, let's face it, is hard to disagree with. Clearly Cowboys and terrible-lizards belong together, which begs the question: Where are all the Dinosaur/Westerns?
Fortunately there is one, The Valley Of Gwangi, which is a Dinosaur-Western you can really sink your teeth into. (Especially if you are an Allosaurus!)

James Franciscus is a Wild West showman out to win back his girl, Gila Golan, who is headlining her own, but failing, Wild West show in Nowheresville, Mexico. A bunch of romantic hooey happens for a bit until the troupe discover the hidden valley…

While every good Western needs dinosaurs, every good dinosaur movie needs either a T-Rex or his somewhat smaller but equally neat relative, Allosaurus. Not only that, but great Dino films require said Rex/Al to dine, not only on fellow prehistoric behemoths, but on some juicy homo sapiens, as well. Well, let's just say "Gwangi" (the name given to the Allosaurus), although choosing from a prix fixe menu (with crème brûlée for dessert), is quite satisfied.

Ray Harryhausen's animation is absolutely brilliant, although, oddly, the allosaur is blue, it's still magnificent. The combination of live action and stop-motion animation is often seamless (except for the horse diving scene, which will garner a chuckle or two). While the first half of the film is worried about silly things like plot and is sorely lacking in dinosaurs, fear not, for the second half is nearly all dinos--plot be damned (or borrowed heavily from King Kong.)
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klondike

Re: Dinosaur movies

Postby klondike » December 21st, 2010, 4:58 pm

No need to go into length over how obsessive I am about TVOG - I've double-barreled enough other threads with my pulpish ravings over this should've-been-forgettable, accidentally-near-perfect, seamlessly-genre-fusing Dynamation epic.
Except to opine that probably the most quel bizarre moment is when the machismo caballero leaps upon a downed pteradacryl, and begins testosteronially pummeling it with his gloved fists . . leading my then-19-yr-old son to quip, on his behalf: "You ain't bird enough!!" :twisted:
BTW, despite much of the hyperbolic pitch-phrasing that can still be found on playbills & lobby cards, and in some synopses, the title monster Gwangi really is a Tyrannosaurus, not an Allosaur - for one of those, you have to trip back to the mid-50's for the matinee pot-boiler The Beast of Hollow Mountain, another early-20th-century-set cowboy versus dino mini-epics . . just look past its FX shortcomings, and you'll be free to enjoy its frantic, Saturday Morning energy and nickelodeon pacing.
Stock up on jujubees!

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MichiganJ
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Re: Dinosaur movies

Postby MichiganJ » December 21st, 2010, 5:55 pm

klondike wrote:BTW, despite much of the hyperbolic pitch-phrasing that can still be found on playbills & lobby cards, and in some synopses, the title monster Gwangi really is a Tyrannosaurus, not an Allosaur

Ah, brings me back to the days when I was in short pants and carried my satchel of books to school…and had knock-down-drag-'em-out fights over the Allosaur vs. T-Rex "debate". Fact is, Mr. Harryhausen intended Gwangi to be an Allosaurus but based his model on drawings of a Tyrannosaurus because Harryhausen confuses the two. And I quote the great Ray: "They're both meat eaters, they're both tyrants…one was just a bit larger than the other." Even in the quote, Ray doesn't want to commit to which was bigger (Rex, naturally). The size issue actually comes into play as Gwangi is just too short to be a Rex, in most scenes. (Like all great stop-motion dinosaur films, the scale changes depending on what, or more importantly, whom gets eaten. But, at least in the battle with the Styracosaurus, the scale favors ol' Al, hands down.)

I'm in total agreement with your son on the dactyl fight. Although I bet Rowdy Roddy Piper stole some of those moves.

(Don't know Beast of Hollow Mountain, but I'll be seeking it out, thanks.)
"Let's be independent together." Dr. Hermey DDS

klondike

Re: Dinosaur movies

Postby klondike » December 21st, 2010, 8:33 pm

MichiganJ wrote:The size issue actually comes into play as Gwangi is just too short to be a Rex, in most scenes. (Like all great stop-motion dinosaur films, the scale changes depending on what, or more importantly, whom gets eaten . .)


You make a good point there, Mich.
I have noticed, a time or two, when my whiz-bang specs slipped a bit, that although our Mr. G books along at giraffe height or better at home in Arroyo Diablo - and then later at the cathedral, as well - when he's being transported to town in the carreta, he's not much taller than your average Idaho Sasquatch.

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Re: Dinosaur movies

Postby RedRiver » January 14th, 2013, 1:48 pm

Reviving this three year-old discussion because I have nothing better to do! THE VALLEY OF GWANGI (TVOG to intimates) is pretty exciting. More so than THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT or The People of same; I really don't know which is which! "Gwangi" cares little for story and character, going right for the good stuff. The effects are fine, the action intense. The older LOST WORLD is much better than Irwin Allen's offering, though the only copy I've seen was in poor condition. You really can't complain about an 85 year-old movie!

By far the best "Dinofilm" is Harryhausen's THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS. Even superior to the identically plotted IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA, this "monster on the loose" film, as Mr. H calls it, is tightly written, expertly animated, and thrilling from top to bottom. As a young fan, I enjoyed GORGO, even REPTILLICUS. But those are popcorn pushers. Saturday afternoon laughs, more than credible fantasy.

When the second JURASSIC PARK film came out, I took my young nephew. About halfway through, he turned to me and whispered, "This is actually not that good." The wisdom of a child. It actually wasn't!

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Re: Dinosaur movies

Postby CineMaven » January 14th, 2013, 5:10 pm

Hey Red,

Check this out:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY0loIL9tuc[/youtube]

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ChiO
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Re: Dinosaur movies

Postby ChiO » January 14th, 2013, 5:51 pm

Speaking of Victor Mature:

ONE MILLION B.C.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upBlYi0PnJo[/youtube]

Then there was TEENAGE CAVEMAN
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HZEWQaHHno[/youtube]

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RedRiver
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Re: Dinosaur movies

Postby RedRiver » January 15th, 2013, 4:42 pm

The big question is, has anybody seen DINOSAURUS? I don't think I have!

Western Guy
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Re: Dinosaur movies

Postby Western Guy » January 18th, 2013, 11:36 am

DINOSAURUS was one of my favorite childhood Saturday matinee at the movies memories.

Hope this whets your appetite, RedRiver:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY3Spw0_Ouw

RedRiver
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Re: Dinosaur movies

Postby RedRiver » January 18th, 2013, 12:04 pm

Well, it's official. This is the movie I most want to see. Forget lost classics, pioneer silents, obscure work by great directors. For me, it's DINOSAURUS! It's possible that my young friends and I watched this 109 years ago. But if I don't remember it, it doesn't count!

Western Guy
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Re: Dinosaur movies

Postby Western Guy » January 18th, 2013, 12:39 pm

If you saw it RedRiver I'm sure you would most remember it. Gregg Martell as the caveman and his buddy the Brontosaurus were the Laurel and Hardy of the Stone Age.

Forget Fred and Dino!

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Re: Dinosaur movies

Postby RedRiver » January 19th, 2013, 3:29 pm

I watched a re-run of FRIENDS where people were watching THE VALLEY OF GWANGI. At least, I think that's what it was. Cowboys and dinosaurs. In color. That's TVOG!


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