B Movie Challenge: King Dinosaur

What can be said about a movie made so cheap instead of filming people shooting a gun, they just use sound effects! Bert I. Gordon, who directed this (so-called) classic, is truly the MacGyver of low-budget cinema; give this man a pop cycle stick, some adhesive tape, and a warehouse of black and white stock footage and he’ll give you a Jurassic experience that would make Spielberg weep (maybe not for the right reasons, though). Known for creating epic tao’s on a shoestring budget (more like spaghetti noodles from the dollar store), this was not only Gordon’s directorial debut, but one of the only feasts of Hollyweird where you can watch a giant (or regular-size) Gila monster battle a large (or tiny) crocodile (the poster never lies, truly the mightiest of the scally two inch high reptiles)!

As a fellow filmmaker, I understand what it is like to make a film on a budget (only the best PB&J sandwiches for my dedicated crews… wait, where is everyone going?) but I have a hard time getting lost in the Mes en Scene when the first five minutes of a movie is edited by stock footage! Although Gordan was certainly not the king of using stock footage (knock, knock, Edwood D. Wood, Jr.) I have to give him credit for being able to pull it all together. Although critics reamed the movie, I must say Gordan chopped together a cohesive story, which under other directors, could have been as rough as a geico’s scutes! Throughout his career, Gordon became (in)famous for his unique optical effects on a budget and showed this skill from the start in King Dinasour from the forced perspective ship (the actors were just standing on a ladder in the middle of a field) to the traveling rocket (some of the treeline is ghosting through the cross dissolved ship) to bringing back a wooly mammoth (re-used stock footage from the Hal Roach Classic One Million B.C)!

Magically one day, out of thin air (much like the plot), a planet appears out of nowhere in our solar system, which to the (stock footage) scientists, seems exactly like Earth! So naturally, man must concur the new world as soon as possible and send four astronauts, two men, and two women, to see what is truly out there (certainly not the budget). When the pigeon lands (Houston, we have a problem!) it all seems peaceful, like the forest of a national park (where it was filmed, no permits of course), until they find a mysterious island with noises coming from it. Why not explore? What bad could happen, am I right? Well, something bad does happen: the use of miniature sets with tiny cold-blooded vertebrae covered in chocolate syrup! Loose tongues (and not just from the lizards, puuuuurrrrrr), enormous (see-through) crickets, and slow-mo Reptilia fights (was anything on his film legal) all occur before the humans let off an atomic explosion to save the planet… from the animals causing no harm… yep… got it… cool.

Slithering your way at sixty-three minutes, Gordon went on to have a very successful career with hits like The Amazing Colossil Man, Earth vs. The Spider, The Magic Sword, and The Food of the Gods, the epitome of camera trickery when large (small) rats eat people! Made on an (impossible) budget of $15,000, the movie did okay in the drive-ins earning back $55,000, enough for Gordon to finally pay the cast and crew! Due to the film falling in the public domain, you can find this gargantuan fossil pretty much everywhere films are dug up. So strap yourselves into the translucent spaceship, deep fry some yummy lizard gizzards, and get to the lost world of over-used (and underappreciated) stock footage!

About Ian Klink

As a filmmaker, writer, and artist, Ian Klink’s work includes the feature film Anybody’s Blues, his thesis film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands, the novel Lucky for Newfangle Press, and he has written short stories for Weren't Another Way to Be: Outlaw Fiction Inspired by Waylon Jennings, The Creeps, The Siren’s Call, and Chilling Tales For Dark Nights audio cast. Klink shares his talents as a teacher of multimedia studies in Pennsylvania.

View all posts by Ian Klink

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