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Friday, December 6, 2013

Dinosaur Island




Dinosaur Island
1994
Fred Olen Ray, Jim Wynorski

A plane full of military deserters ends up crashing into the ocean.  A few survivors wash up on the shore of a seemingly deserted tropical island (well, unless you saw the opening scene with a topless woman painted blue and dancing in front of a would-be sacrifice.) The less than disciplined soldiers encounter less than convincing dinosaurs, and soon the G.I.s are mistaken for gods by a local all-female tribe.  The soldiers must prove their godhood by destroying The Great One (no, not Wayne Gretzky), a Tyrannosaurus Rex that may or may not look exactly like the one from Carnosaur (1993).

Even if you didn’t know Fred Olen Ray (Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)) was involved, Dinosaur Island makes its thesis statement upfront with an extended topless dance scene before the opening credits. This is less of a movie about army guys getting eaten by dinosaurs and more about absurdly large breast implants. I went in to this film wanting dinosaur mayhem, but I was willing to adjust my expectations for the sake of eh…let's call it art.

On the surface (and let’s be honest, several layers below that), Dinosaur Island is pretty dreadful. The dialogue is filled with lame jokes, and attempts at wit that work maybe 1% of the time. None of the characters are particularly endearing. None are written with much depth beyond, ‘Hardcase sergeant’ or ‘Cavegirl with big boobs.’  I can sense the actors trying to salvage something from the script, but the only stand out is Ross Hagen from Five the Hard Way (aka Sidehackers) (1969). That’s because Ross chews the scenery like a starving man, see Star Slammer (1986) for further details.

Everything looks like it was shot in the middle of the afternoon, the lighting is bright and flat. The music is of the cheapest synthesizer kind. The special effects are mix of badly matted puppets, and forced perspective shots. There are plenty of rubber dinosaurs and a wonderful scene with a giant egg that is in fact just a regular egg placed very close to the camera. The denouement features an actual large sized animatronic T-Rex, which has been featured in more than one film. It’s shot in a manner that in no way hides the fact it can barely move, but it does give the cast something to act against, and comes closer than any other moment to actually creating some excitement. There is something charmingly lazy about the production, and whole thing could benefit from the sheen of being a 3rd generation VHS copy.

Dinosaur Island features far more T&A than it does T-Rex, and although it starts to creep towards sleazy in a few spots, it mostly maintains a breezy tone. The inherent silliness goes a long way to easing over the rough spots in a film that is almost entirely composed of rough spots. If you like your nudity with a dash of phony dinosaurs, it’s the perfect movie for you. Everyone else is probably better off finding another island.

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