Dinosaur Planet

Time, as the crew of the Odyssey finds out, can cast things in a different light.  Admittedly I watched Planet of the Dinosaurs because it was free on Amazon Prime and I was having trouble keeping awake on a weekend afternoon.  It’s the kind of bad movie I’d’ve loved as a kid, and if I’m honest, I still do.  Although it was released in 1977 (it’s hard to believe Star Wars was the same year) the award-winning (!) stop-motion dinosaurs are so unbelievable that it hardly seems possible that the film’s budget was almost all spent on them.  It certainly didn’t go to pay a writer because the dialogue is about the cheesiest I recall ever hearing.  Jurassic Park was still a decade and a half away, after which no stop-motion dinosaur would ever be credible again.

Still, bad movies aren’t all bad.  In fact, there’s an aesthetic to them.  For me the real draw, as with an Ed Wood movie, is that these directors were struggling against an inadequate budget.  This isn’t in the Spielberg league.  And you can only afford so much.  The idea is akin to that of Planet of the Apes—which benefitted not only by a better budget but by a script by Rod Serling.  A planet similar to earth but caught in a different time.  And it’s a chance to explore what it would’ve meant for people and dinosaurs to coexist, which, despite some ark hawkers, never happened.  If it had we probably wouldn’t be here to make bad movies about it.

Our set of nine castaways manage to survive with only four eaten by dinosaurs.  And when these stop-motion reptiles aren’t on screen, the people are filmed walking, inanely talking, or thinking that a stockade of sticks and twine will keep out nine metric tons of Tyrannosaurus Rex.  There’s an attempt at social commentary when the vice-president of the company funding the mission realizes that he’s not the boss among castaways.  Where there’s no money, the balance of power shifts.  Of course, he gets impaled by a Centrosaurus.  At the end, the five survivors have settled down, built a house, and started having children.  They look pretty good for having survived on dinosaur meat and berries.  It helps that the corporate VP isn’t around.  I watch movies like this because, like James Shea, I’m on a tight budget.  And Amazon Prime often dictates what I watch when I’m having trouble keeping my eyes open. 

2 thoughts on “Dinosaur Planet

  1. Jeff Hora

    I have been a fan of ‘cheesy movies’ for years, fueled by my addiction to Mystery Science Theater 3000 and it’s children (Rifftrax, Cinematic Titanic, etc.). I know that I’m not alone here, and always welcome the camaraderie!


    • It’s good to know I’m not alone, Jeff! I just found out about a book about this–I’ll eventually post about it here, if it’s any good. By the way, there will be more along these lines coming…


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