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Dinosaurus! (1960)
Not Rated

Starring: Ward Ramsey, Paul Lukather, and Kristina Hanson

Rating:
**
out of
*****

American construction workers building a harbor on a Caribbean island get a surprise when their explosives uncover the bodies of two dinosaurs that have been frozen in suspended animation. Seeing potential in displaying the pair of million-year-old, perfectly preserved creatures, head construction honcho, Bart (Ward Ramsey), has the bodies dragged onshore. However, before he can send word to anyone about the discovery, a thunderstorm blows in and a lightning strike reanimates the dinosaurs as well as a caveman (Gregg Martell) that has washed ashore nearby.

As the construction crew and the local villagers take shelter from the storm, the dinosaurs, who haven't eaten in a million years, begin prowling the island for food. One is a relatively harmless, plant-eating brontosaurus. The other is a carnivorous tyrannosaurus rex.

When the crew realizes that the dinosaurs are on the loose, they attempt to evacuate the islanders to an old fortress. All would be well and good if the island's resident villain, Mike Hacker (Fred Engelberg), wasn't planning on capturing the caveman and endangering anyone who tries to stop him.

Dinosaurus! features a simplistic story, wooden acting, terrible special effects, and an overly dramatic musical score. Still, the movie manages to be watchable thanks to director Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr. Even though the movie was obviously going to play the B-movie circuit, Yeaworth manages to craft a few fine sequences. For example, the caveman's encounter with modern household conveniences is a genuinely funny scene.

The dinosaur effects are particularly bad but, considering that Marcel Delgado, who worked on the original 1933 King Kong as a model maker, was only given two weeks to construct the models used for the Dinosaurus!, they're excusable.

My first encounter with this movie was in the 1970s when it played on Saturday afternoon on a semi-regular basis. Prior to my viewing it again in February, 2010, I hadn't seen it since I was 6 or 7 years old. Even as a jaded adult, I still recognized the movie's goofy charm. How can you be hard on a movie that features a character named Dumpy; a scene where a drunken Irish guy is told to watch over the still-frozen dinosaurs, and a narcoleptic man is put in charge of ringing a dinosaur alarm?

Dinosaurus! certainly won't challenge Jurassic Park or even The Land That Time Forgot for the title of "Best Dinosaurs-on-the-loose Movie", but it still is fun enough to recommend to B-movie junkies with a taste for the absurd.

Trivia: During special-effects work on this picture, the stop-motion animation crew used their brontosaurus model and miniature jungle set to film a shot for an episode of TV's "The Twilight Zone", "The Odyssey of Flight 33." (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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