King Dinosaur (1955)

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King Dinosaur (1955)

Post  BoG on Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:45 pm

A very low budget first feature from Bert I Gordon (Mr. B.I.G. and not counting his participation in the virtually unknown Serpent Island/1954), with some wild concepts - a planet, dubbed Nova, suddenly enters our solar system and 4 astronauts (2 men and 2 women) are sent to explore it. They find a world very similar to Earth at first glance - it resembles one of our typical forests.  They also run across wildlife identical to Earth's - bear cubs and deer, for example, as well as snakes and alligators which menace them unconvincingly. But then, a giant bug , resembling a termite, shows up. Later, one couple decides to raft to a nearby island and that's where the giant lizards live. The poster, btw, is misleading - there's no such dinosaur in the film, only stock footage of enlarged lizards.
The film's first sequence on Earth is a documentary-style explanation of a space agency's testing procedures, utilizing stock footage. It's actually  a bit unusual and interesting (narration by Marvin Miller).  The rest of the film betrays its complete lack of a budget; there's a reason, for example, that this other planet is identical to Earth - the production had no funds to show anything else. Even the actors (including William Bryant & Wanda Curtis) weren't paid.  There's further stock footage from One Million BC (1940) to show  the giant lizards.  However, Gordon makes the most of what he did not have, presenting a story of adventure into the unknown and it explains why he was a success with later low budget innovative features like The Amazing Colossal Man and Attack of the Puppet People.

The final minutes include appearances by  a gigantic (50 feet tall) wooly mammoth and an armadillo - these were the early Gordon giant things FX which weren't quite fine-tuned. The outrageous conclusion seems like an excuse by Gordon to use more stock footage of the military's atomic bomb tests: one character decides that they may as well use that atomic bomb they brought along and so blow up the offensive island and all its creatures; what a way to treat a new world - mankind has never been more callous and destructive! BoG's Score: 4 out of 10

Dino Trivia: screenwriter Tom Gries, who also wrote & directed the previous Serpent Island, went on to a pretty good and long Hollywood career as writer and director, notably of some Charlton Heston films in the late sixties, including Will Penny (1968), though he died prematurely of a heart attack at age 54 in 1977.
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