The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Dinosaur Island (1994)
This was suggested to me on Instant, and right away I saw that it was co-directed by two of the greatest schlock auteurs, Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski. How can that not be good? Throw on DTVC favorite Ross Hagen, and I was sold. (The 79-minute runtime didn't hurt either.)
Dinosaur Island is about a troop of soldiers, led by Captain Ross Hagen. He's bringing three guys back to the US to stand trial for misconduct. They're relatively good guys, just a bunch of goofballs and trouble makers. Anyway, the plane goes down and the troop washes ashore on a remote island. There they find a bunch of beautiful native women who are terrorized by a massive dinosaur. If they can kill the dinosaur, then they can live with these women happily ever after.
This movie was a lot of fun. An exploitation send-up of the 50s deserted island savage women movies. It's very USA Up All Night, and I'm sure this aired on it at some point. It's perfect for a bad movie night, because it does a great job of making fun of itself, but there is plenty of room to make your own jokes too. Now it is very R rated, so make sure you're in like-minded company if you do a group viewing, but if you know people that dig this kind of thing, it's great. Wynorski and Ray deliver.
Ross Hagen is great in that Poor Man's William Holden role that we saw in those films of the 50s. He uses terms like "terra firma" and won't let his guys forget about their mission; but he's also able to have a good time and joke with the guys too. I was worried that we'd lose him here, because there's a point near the beginning where the film looks like it's going to focus entirely on the three guys, but fortunately my fears were assuaged, and he came back. He's always so much fun, and he doesn't disappoint here.
The dinosaurs were absolutely fantastic schlock mega cheese. So much fun to watch. They were like a mix of Harryhausen and 1950s film technology. And the shots of them with the actors were so dead-on, totally nailed those old movies. Again though, while they may have been making fun of the genre, the way it was made left plenty of room for your own riffs, which I think makes a movie like this that much better. Sometimes with the modern send-ups, they make the monsters so poorly, and use a lot of bad CGI, that we're left with only laughing with the film makers. Ray and Wynorski know how to make these films right for their audience, and they pull it off.
Speaking of which, it doesn't say on imdb how this collaboration happened, if it was a collaboration at all. Who knows if one guy started it and the other finished. We don't like to think of it like that though, do we? We like the idea of these two schlock titans teaming up like Lucas and Spielberg to give us the Indian Jones of low-budget films-- not to mention Roger Corman produced it, an even bigger figure in the schlock film industry. As a side note, in the credits DTVC Hall of Famer David Carradine gets a thank you, and according to imdb, some of the film was shot on his land. Too bad he couldn't be in the film too.
Look at that credit. That came near the very beginning, and lets you know what kind of movie you're in for. The thing is though, even with a warning like that, where they're all like "this is going to be a goofball fest", there are things that make no sense and are so much fun too. On the image page, I took a screen of this shot of a dinosaur I guess howling at the moon as the sun set. It was in this 70s-style TV film stock though, like it was a 70s PSA about saving the dinosaurs or something. "A dinosaur is a terrible thing to waste." "Somewhere a dinosaur is crying." I don't know, but it was pretty fantastic whatever it was.
This is tons of fun, and a great USA Up All Nite throwback. The availability on Netflix Instant makes it a no-brainer. Wynorski and Ray deliver, and Ross Hagen is a nice slice of all right too.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109627/