Friday, January 31, 2020

Island of the Dinosaurs

Island of the Dinosaurs (aka La isla de los dinosaurios)
Rafael Portillo

If you’ve had the chance to see any ‘lost world’ type films ( The Lost World (1925), Lost Continent (1951), King Dinosaur (1955), etc.) you have at least a good handle of the set-up for Island of the Dinosaurs. A group of explorers decide to take a plane to find the lost continent of Atlantis, they end up crashing on a remote island that is filled with lush growth, a not insignificant number of dinosaurs, and a tribe of very clean-shaven cavemen. It feels very rote at first, there is nothing unexpected to see in the opening 20 minutes, but then the movie takes an unusual turn.

After being tossed out of his own tribe, hunky caveman, Molo (Armando Silvestre) stumbles upon one of the explorers, Laura (Alma Delia Fuentes) fresh from encountering a dinosaur in the lake. Molo kidnaps Laura and takes her to a cave. Over the course of hours(or maybe a week?), Molo manages to outfit her in a leather dress, while she shows him how to build a spear. The two eventually fall in love and what starts out of a tale of man vs. dinosaur turns into a tepid romance between a brutish primitive and a modern-day (for 1967) woman.

I defy you to figure out which one has been hanging out with cavemen.
While the turn itself is an unexpected one, it isn’t a very interesting one if you’ve come to see some dinosaurs eat people. The caveman scenes are long and drawn out with minimal dialog. This can work if you have some visuals to show off like in One Million Years B.C. (1966). Island of the Dinosaurs does not have this luxury. It has a forest, some ugly canyons, and almost all the dinosaur footage from One Million B.C. (1940). The end result is that this potentially refreshing twist on a tired subgenre ends up being rather dull.

I suppose if you have never sat through the endlessly reused footage of an alligator wrestling with an iguana, excuse me, I mean two mighty dinosaurs clashing, that you might find things more interesting, but the ubiquitousness of those rehashed moments (and there are plenty of them) just become dead space while you wait for some original footage to resume.

8-Diagram Caveman Fighter 
Island of the Dinosaurs if definitely a curio, a Mexican production that largely focuses on a caveman’s romantic life certainly puts it into a unique space. The execution is so flaccid that it saps any inherent energy from this venture. To the film’s credit, it does manage one final moment that came as a surprise. Science-fiction adventure films such as this are usually devoted to returning to the status quo, but Island of the Dinosaurs is a romantic comedy at its heart and declares it so with its final moments.

If you need some cavemen in your romance and your Eegah! (1962) blu-ray is still in the mail, give Island of the Dinosaurs a try, but for everyone else, you might be happier watching virtually any other dinosaur movie.

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