Dinosaurus! (1960)

Dino fight!
Dino fight!

Engineers using explosives to enlarge a harbour on a Caribbean island discover the bodies of two dinosaurs, which have been frozen in a kind of suspended animation in mud beneath the sea floor.

US 1 sheet poster
US 1 sheet poster

The dinosaurs, a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Brontosaurus, get winched onto the island and are left lying on the beach. In the middle of a storm that night the big beasties are struck by lightning… and come back to life! Yay!

The frozen Tyrannosaurus Rex is dragged ashore
The frozen Tyrannosaurus Rex is dragged ashore
The inanimate bodies of the Brontosaurus and the Tyrannosaurus lie on the beach
The inanimate bodies of the Brontosaurus and the Tyrannosaurus lie on the beach

The prehistoric reptiles start roaming about the island and, to add to the fun, a caveman (Gregg Martell), who was also originally frozen at the bottom of the sea, reawakens too!

Cool caveman makeup by Don L. Cash
Cool caveman makeup by Don L. Cash

Mike Hacker (Fred Engelberg), the island’s mean-spirited deputy mayor, plans to financially exploit the caveman, but the Neanderthal gets away, becoming friends with an orphan boy called Julio (Alan Roberts). The caveman also takes a liking to Betty Piper (Kristina Hanson), who is the girlfriend of head engineer Bart Thompson (Ward Ramsey).

Mike Hacker is the movie's baddie
Mike Hacker is the movie’s baddie
The caveman takes Betty to a cave, where he makes her cook for him
The caveman takes Betty to a cave, where he makes her cook for him

As the movie progresses, we get to see Hacker and a couple of his goons chase Julio and the caveman around the island, the Tyrannosaurus attack a busload of locals, Julio and the caveman ride on the back of the Brontosaurus, and Bart battle the Tyrannosaurus with a mechanical digger!

Tyrannosaurus Rex versus digger!
Tyrannosaurus Rex versus digger!
When prehistoric reptile meets a 20th century machine!
When prehistoric reptile meets a 20th century machine!

DINOSAURUS! was produced by Jack H. Harris, so you know the film is going to be low budget but a lot of fun, like some of his other productions, such as THE BLOB (1958), 4D MAN (1959), EQUINOX (1970), SCHLOCK (1973) and DARK STAR (1974).

The Tyrannosaurus crushes a vehicle full of islanders: pretty ruthless for a children's film!
The Tyrannosaurus crushes a vehicle full of islanders: pretty ruthless for a children’s film!
Crunch!
Crunch!

Marcel (KING KONG) Delgado built the dinosaur puppets and the stop-motion was done by Tom Holland, Phil Kellison, David Pal, Ralph Rodine and Don Sahlin.
Tim Baar, Wah Chang and Gene Warren handled the special photographic effects.

Dinosaur showdown!
Dinosaur showdown!

Unfortunately, the table-top stop-motion lacks the finesse of Harryhausen or Danforth (supposedly the schedule was pretty rushed), so this tightly-budgeted movie is never going to be considered a top tier stop-motion dino movie like THE VALLEY OF GWANGI or WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH. However, on its own terms, DINOSAURUS! is a pretty watchable, event-filled fantasy that passes the time nicely.

Riding on a dinosaur: cool!
Riding on a dinosaur: cool!

Directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr, the movie boasts a bunch of fun scenes with the caveman, colourful cinemascope photography and it ends with a question mark, just like Yeaworth’s THE BLOB.

Cave-dude!
Cave-dude!

Okay, let’s talk a bit more about the movie’s special effects…

I actually think the large mechanical dinosaur models used in DINOSAURUS! look better on-screen than the stop-motion puppets. The cable-controlled T-Rex model, for instance, which is used in many scenes, certainly works better than the stop-motion version, with nice detail showing on its glistening skin.

The large mechanical Tyrannosaurus model
The large mechanical Tyrannosaurus model…
...and here's the cable-controlled dino in action
…and here’s the cable-controlled dino in action
Yikes! Run away!
Yikes! Run away!
The Tyrannosaurus doesn't like fire!
The Tyrannosaurus doesn’t like fire!

(Fun fact: whilst shooting the stop-motion scenes for this movie, the FX crew found time to use the Brontosaurus model and the miniature jungle set to film a shot for THE TWILIGHT ZONE episode ‘The Odyssey of Flight 33’.)

In Dinosaurus! the Tyrannosaurus (stop-motion puppet) approaches an old fort, where the islanders are hiding out
In the Dinosaurus! finale, the Tyrannosaurus (stop-motion puppet) approaches an old fort, where the islanders are hiding out

Here’s a shot of the two cable-controlled dino models…

Big models!
Big models!

One of the great things about DINOSAURUS! is that it spawned loads of stonkingly wonderful posters.

Feast your eyes…

French grande poster
French grande poster with bright purple background!
UK quad poster
UK quad poster
Italian poster
Italian poster
German poster
German poster
Belgian poster
Belgian poster
US half sheet poster
US half sheet poster
Japanese B2 poster
Japanese B2 poster
Italian poster
Italian poster
French poster
French poster
Thai poster: this features images of the Pteranodon and Archelon from One Million Years BC!
Thai poster: this features images of the Pteranodon and Archelon from One Million Years BC!
Argentinian poster
Argentinian poster
Italian poster
Italian poster
Australian 1 sheet poster
Australian 1 sheet poster
French poster
French poster
US window card
US window card
US insert poster
US insert poster
German poster
German poster
French poster
French poster with bright red background!
Italian poster
Italian poster
Right, now THIS is what I call a great double feature!
Right, now THIS is what I call a great double feature!

Some lobby cards…

Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Lobby card
Mexican lobby card
Mexican lobby card

A bunch of studio release photos…

Betty and the caveman
Betty and the caveman
Dastardly Hacker discovers the caveman
Dastardly Hacker discovers the caveman
Cave-in!
Cave-in!

The cover for the Dell comic book adaptation of the movie…

Wonderful art by George Wilson
Wonderful art by George Wilson

Super 8 home movie box art…

'Primeval monsters rock the earth in savage death duel!'
‘Primeval monsters rock the earth in savage death duel!’

Here’s an American VHS cover that used the Dell comic artwork…

‘Before DNA – real dinosaurs terrorize the earth’

And, finally, let’s look at the original artwork (without the typography) that was used as the VHS box art for Mountain Video’s release of DINOSAURUS!
Yes… this UK company thought they’d put Harryhausen’s Gwangi on the front cover!
And don’t ask me what that green face is supposed to be on the back cover…

Gouache on art board, painted by Philip Richards
Gouache on art board, painted by Philip Richards. (That caveman illustration is obviously based on one of the figures featured in Frank Frazetta’s ‘Neanderthal’ painting!)

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