When I was a child, so naive and innocent (yeah, right), I had a cinematic experience that can only be categorized as religious in feeling. On June 11, 1993, the opening night of Jurrasic Park, Stephen Spielberg took my generation on a journey so divine, the next day every single one of us wanted to be archaeologists, digging in the playground for dinosaur bones. I am sure most would put this movie as one of the best prehistoric flicks of all time, yet let us not forget the past and reflect on another slithering masterpiece. Before you hit the play button on your An N1500 video recorder (with wooden cabinet), turn off your Binatone TV Master Mk IV and zip your mustachioed lip because it’s about to get heavy with the Dino-mite 1977 classic Planet of Dinosaurs (faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar out!).
With Hollyweird drooling to get their hands on Sci-Fi property like Star Wars, Producer/Director James K. Shea (who lensed classics like Suburbia Confidential and The Scavengers) felt the world not only needed epic battles of spaceships across the night sky, but also claymation lizards! You have to give Shea credit for wanting to emulate the Ray Harryhausen era because the little guys (for some odd reason the dinosaurs on this foreign planet are small) steal the show! The effects were created by Doug Beswick, who went on to do stop-motion effects on such films (you might have heard of) like The Terminator, Aliens, and Beetlejuice. However, even though they look great, most of the budget was spent on these effects, which meant most of the cast and crew worked on deferment, to which some claim they haven’t been paid to this day! Another fun little fact is master of horror alum William Malone, who went on to direct Creature and House on Haunted Hill remake, created special props used in the film.
The plot involves a group of astronauts, clad in custom-made jogging suits, afros, and long sideburns, whose ship crashlands on a mysterious planet. Knowing their odds of returning to Earth are slim to none, they decide to Robinson Crusoe a new life for themselves. However, their not alone, and the meat-eating reptiles from Yore are not into the idea of being landlords. Will they eventually create a new Garden of Eden? Will the beasts leave them in peace or eat them to pieces? Will they ever explain why the leader of this rag-tag team of cosmonauts has a thick Brooklyn accent? Take a chance on this movie to find the answers within, and honestly, you will be glad you took the trip.
Stomping in at a colossal 84 minutes, you can find Planet of Dinosaurs on pretty much any format or any streaming service, due to the film falling into Public Domain. As a result of the film’s PD status, you may have seen several of these stop-motion dinosaurs appear in commercials, dinosaur documentaries on History Channel, and even on Jim Hensen’s Muppet Babies. So, open up a bag of dino chicken nuggets at the La Brea Tar Pits, turn your lava lamp on high, and get lost in space as your marvel at this stop-motion roar that time forgot!
You can watch the full movie here: