The Last Dinosaur (1977)

Article 3229 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-21-2010
Posting Date: 6-17-2010
Directed by Alexander Grasshoff and Tsugonobu Kotani
Featuring Richard Boone, Joan Van Ark, Steven Keats
Country: Japan / USA
What it is: Dinosaur movie

A big game hunter forms an expedition to explore a hidden area in the Arctic regions that is said to harbor dinosaurs. Though he claims he’s doing it for the sake of science, the question remains – is he actually going there to hunt it?

What we have here is a cross between THE LOST WORLD and “Moby Dick”. Like KING KONG ESCAPES, it’s a Japanese/American co-production with Rankin/Bass and a Japanese film company, in this case Tsuburaya Productions. The dinosaurs are, like most Japanese monsters, men in suits, and are acceptable enough (to these eyes, anyway). I like the movie, but wish I liked it more. It starts out looking fairly interesting; Richard Boone’s performance is odd enough that it caught my attention, and Joan Van Ark looks at first like she’s going to be a fairly feisty female addition to the expedition. However, once they get to this lost world, they become less interesting, especially Van Ark as she quickly becomes the typical screaming female in distress. The movie is hoodwinked by a weak script that often belabors cliches, leaves the potentially interesting character of Bunta undeveloped, and makes the character of the employee who first spotted the dinosaur an unlikable, abrasive man. Furthermore, the score doesn’t know when it should leave well enough alone and constantly tries to underline moments that would be best left in silence. Still, when it does work (which is sporadically), it is entertaining enough. I saw the complete version which runs about 11 minutes longer than the version that was released to TV in this country; I suspect that the footage that was cut involves the expedition’s encounter with a tribe of caveman. This one is a real mixed bag.


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