Monday, October 17, 2016

The Last Dinosaur (1977)

After a somewhat frustrating weekend and a stultifyingly dull day at work today, I really don't feel terribly inspired to post anything here.  So, instead I thought I'd present, well, not so much a random movie trailer as a random movie clip.  As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I've always been a sucker for a dinosaur movie and, when I was a kid, watched as many as I could find, (that said, back in the days before CGI allowed the cost-effective generation of reasonably realistic-looking dinosaurs, there weren't actually that many such movies around).  One that I never managed to see was this 1977 TV movie, The Last Dinosaur, a Japanese-US collaboration which starred Richard Boone as an oil millionaire and hunter who, having discovered the existence of an underground lost world beneath the arctic ice, decides to take the opportunity to hunt the ultimate prey: a Tyrannosaurus. Naturally, he is opposed by the accompanying scientists who want to preserve this lost environment. I'm guessing that it was made as a cash-in on the 1976 King Kong, which had similarly eco-friendly overtones, featuring the exploitation of a prehistoric monster by an oil man.

The main Japanese contribution can be seen in the above clip: the special effects.  Not surprisingly, these involve man-in-a-suit dinosaurs roaming around a miniature set, much in the manner of Godzilla and the other Toho monsters.  Unfortunately, the suits are of a far lower quality than those in the Godzilla movies (and some of those were pretty dodgy).  Whilst the Triceratops is just about passable, the T-rex is terrible - not even remotely convincing.  I have to say that, growing up, I always found the man-in-a-suit the least satisfying way of representing dinosaurs onscreen.  I much preferred stop motion animation, (which was also far more expensive and beyond the means of most low budget dinosaur movies), which allowed for far more realistic looking dinosaurs.  To be honest, I even preferred the use of photographically enlarged lizards - they might not have been accurate representations of dinosaurs, but at least they were dynamic and looked quite menacing.  Actually, even the glove puppet dinosaurs and mechanical pterodactyls of The Land that Time Forgot were preferable to a man in a suit. To be fair, the man-in-a-suit dinosaurs seen here are pretty poor, many films using this technique have used far more realistic and convincing dinosaur suits.  Anyway, judging by the various excerpts of The Last Dinosaur that I've seen over the years, I didn't miss much by not seeing it when I a kid.

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