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Written by / 7/16/2016 / No comments / , , , ,

JACK H. HARRIS & IRVIN S. YEAWORTH JR. PRESENT 'DINOSAURUS!'

DINOSAURUS battles a tractor in this obscure cult flick from 1960
Every cult sleeper phenom is eventually considered a classic; even those that don't sleep at all and, with zero expectations, score huge at the box office upon release...

But THE BLOB, one of the most popular b-movies of all time, was a complete accident and not altogether perfect. Director Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. was really, deep down, anything but tremendously capable, at first: His initial forte was religious filmmaking – what would be considered propaganda now...

And this BLOB idea might just make Yeaworth and producer Jack Harris a little money to sustain their good work, and, well, obviously the duo found gold. Not the film's star, though, a young Steve McQueen playing a teenager in his twenties and looking in his early-thirties, who decided, given the script and title, to pass on the gross cut – a Goliath mistake he spent the rest of his life angry about, even after becoming one of the biggest (and highest paid) stars in Hollywood following THE GREAT ESCAPE.

Dino waging war
After a capable thriller titled 4D MAN starring Robert Lansing as a scientist who can, at first, reach through walls and then ends up walking through them, aging quickly and becoming a violent living-wraith, Yeaworth and Harris ventured back to the prehistoric era, placing two giant beasts into the "present" time on a balmy island with jeeps, tractors, Spanish laborers, a square-jawed blue collar type, a curious kid, a rummy and of course, a gorgeous ingenue – blond haired and no scream queen icon like Fay Wray...

Although she doesn't have to scream that much since DINOSAURUS! goes for thrills over chills. Her biggest shock is completely mute, occurring underwater, seeing a giant "dead" T-Rex and, not being able to explain it on land, the creature, along with a Brontosaurus (when there was such a thing), winds up ashore, completely inert, at first: And skipping way ahead, the best sequence has the Tyrannosaurus pitted against our manly hero, strategically maneuvering a tow-truck, which becomes his very own Triceratops, taking fuel instead of making it!

Primary artwork for poster and DVD
The problem with this DINO flick are the sporadic attempts at humor, especially concerning another blast from the past who, around the same time, awakens, sneaks around local houses and tries on women's clothing. Obviously not a big lizard, this Neanderthal, befriending the kid, riding the Bront and filling up too much screen-time, is a bulwark to what should be a more sparse and effective creature-feature.

Meanwhile, the direction by Yeaworth is his usual "Security Camera Mellow," also used in THE BLOB during dialogue scenes and even some of the action: par for the course in low-budget filmmaking to save money and get the job done quick.

Yeaworth and Harris, even after their rudimentary success, stuck to the b-movie template and, despite some flaws, did a pretty good job, overall. After a while even the downtime in this particular venture is pulpy and intriguing, full of eerie suspense backed by a grand yet ominous soundtrack foreshadowing the likes of John Williams – the Rex peaking into a jeep full of frightened people, later used in one of his vehicles directed by Steven Spielberg.

RATING SCORE: ***
Visually, this is no Ray Harryhausen, the man who worshipped KONG's guru Willis O'Brien, worked with him bringing another ape to Stop-Motion life in MIGHTY JOE YOUNG and would make a splendid dino flick called THE VALLEY OF GWANGI in 1969: but no matter, the DINOSAURUS team-up of nine special-effects artists, a few who'd go on to JAWS and even BEWARE THE BLOB (directed by Larry Hagman and with no connection to the original), make things look realistic enough for the semi-effectively slow-building plot-line's resolution...

The Tyrannosaurus must be trapped within the surrounding ruins of a dilapidated castle-like structure, mote and all, or he could gobble up the entire island... And a bonus note for collectors: if you happen to unearth this DVD-fossil for less than $50, as happened recently on eBay as yours truly found one, miraculously for thirty-five bones (two years after paying $60 for an earlier Snap-Case Edition), grab it 'cause it's rare and, especially for fans of creature features, definitely worth owning – both made by IMAGE and with, as you'll see by the pics above and below, mighty fine quality.

The big angry lizard verses John Deere
DINOSAURUS REVIEW TWO: The boys' third venture, made in 1960 a year after 4D MAN and two after their breakthrough BLOB — while not too shabby is comparably the worst installment into the suspense, horror or thriller genre, abandoning their core fans...

DinoScore: ***
Especially since the story feels, on one hand, made for kids but there's fairly complicated dialogue and the main plot wouldn't keep them interested. And what any age group expects from a dinosaur flick are those miraculous prehistoric beasts brought back to life — the same ones taken for granite in KING KONG (Harris and Yeaworth were similar to Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack the mogul visionary and his talented man behind the camera) to the ones anticipated in the ongoing JURASSIC series... Like THE BLOB, there's plenty of build-up, but the conversations can get rather dull: something about a local jerk who "manages" the island while bullying an endearing Spanish boy (who rides the now fictional Brontosaurus), and a perfect looking 1950's-style American couple trying to uncover and eventually revive two Dinosaurs discovered in the ocean, not far from the beach.

Human beings just plain suck
While the director and producer's first movie had Steve McQueen, not yet a known actor but still interesting and intense, and the other had Robert Lansing as a Mad Scientist, the then-and-now non-famous cast provides the exclamation point after the title, equalling Low Budget! 

The Dinosaurs, though, do look fantastic, despite the stop-motion process lacking Ray Harryhausen's detailed touch. And their presence shapes-up effectively, first with night raids where it's tough to see them clearly, and then the daylight finale with a T-Rex battling a yellow tractor, worth the 90-minute wait. But the thing that veers DINOSAURUS into (prolonged moments of) ludicrous camp has nothing to do with the creatures, but a Neanderthal acting like all Three Stooges rolled into one, and, supposedly the comic relief, not funny at all. He should have remained extinct.
Snap-Case "Gatefold" and Regular DVD Case are both Widescreen and Rare & Enjoy the DINO Pictures Below...
The Tyrannosaurus Rex vs Tractor of DINOSAURUS
The Tyrannosaurus Rex vs Tractor of DINOSAURUS
The Tyrannosaurus Rex vs Tractor of DINOSAURUS
The Tyrannosaurus Rex vs Tractor of DINOSAURUS
The Tyrannosaurus Rex vs Tractor of DINOSAURUS
The Tyrannosaurus Rex vs Tractor of DINOSAURUS
The Tyrannosaurus Rex vs Tractor of DINOSAURUS
The Tyrannosaurus Rex vs Tractor of DINOSAURUS
The Tyrannosaurus Rex vs Tractor of DINOSAURUS
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