PLANET OF DINOSAURS

 

I don’t remember this film from when I was a kid, but  I am sure I probably saw it. After all, the movie consists of spaceships, women and dinosaurs. There is no way I turned that down in my pre-teen years. Upon receiving this dvd, I was excited as they mention effects in the tradition of Ray Harryhausen. I will watch any movie that has anything to do with, in my opinion, the greatest special effects guru the world has ever seen. I should have known better right from the start. A 20th Anniversary DVD in 2007 for a film that was released in 1979 worldwide and 1981 in the U.S., that kind of math doesn’t add up in any equation, and it is the preface to 90 minutes of similar viewing.

            The films biggest star is James Whitworth of The Hills Have Eyes and Part 2. He plays a tough guy first officer on a spaceship that has crash-landed on an alien planet. As with many films of this genre, the special effects steal the show. The dinosaurs are indeed Harryhausen-esque, although they suffer from a sped up film track that makes them look like a 33 record playing at 45 sounds. Past that, the rest of the effects are sub-par at best. The lasers are hokey and the rockets look like toys. The thing was, Star Wars and Star Trek were being done at this point, and in that context, these effects suddenly become even worse.

            The plot of the film is actually very Alien in plot. The ship at the start of the film is owned by a large corporation and one of their top officials in onboard when the yrun into trouble. Harvey Baylor, played by Harvey Shain, tries to take charge because of his executive position, which means little when you are crashed on a planet. He ends up getting eaten by a dinosaur, similar to Paul Reiser getting his in Aliens. Of course, Cindy, the communications officer ends up with fewer clothes than everyone else and promptly bites it as well. Past that, the film gets really slow and it is a perpetual shot of the cast running back and forth trying to evade dinosaurs. The acting is stiff, the landscape is dull since the film is supposed to be taking place in the desert, and the plot just runs out action.

            The film is better promised than delivered. If you are a fan of cave women films or bad post Planet of the Apes post-apocalyptic stories, you might enjoy the rawness of the film, but after that, it is a weak offering at best.

 

Special features: The dvd features an audio commentary, but  I doubt anyone would like this film enough to sit through it. The original television commercials and two Willis O”Brien short films, which are black and white and really bland viewing.