Dinosaurus! was another project based on an idea by Jack H. Harris, the independent-minded producer who struck gold with The Blob in 1958, and enjoyed a modest career producing an odd collection of genre films. Mostly in the sci-fi vein, Dinosaurus! was Harris' third major film with mediocre talent Irvin S. Yeaworth, who also helmed Blob, and the more intriguing 4D Man, in 1959.
Dinosaurus! is not a good movie, but it enjoyed a regular run on TV, and provided ideal, fantastical escapism for kids before age refined their ears to sense and discern the lame dialogue in Dan E. Weisburd's debut screenplay, with help from Jean Yeaworth, the director's occasional script collaborator.
The facile, TV-like exchanges between the bland cast and amazing array of continuity blunders do make Dinosaurus! a moderately fun movie for the older set, who should find the movie's peculiar juggling of humour, sci-fi, and drama a weirdly intriguing combo.
The Blob undoubtedly put some extra cash in Harris' production seed coffer, and springing for CinemaScope and location shots from the U.S. Virgin Islands gives the film added production value. The location photography and compositions are first-rate - an indication that the awkward 'scope framing in Three Faces of Eve wasn't an issue anymore for veteran cinematographer Stanley Cortez - and Image's transfer sparkles nicely when we're treated to bright or high-contrast shots.
The continuity gaffes start to pile up when day-for-night footage, studio interiors, poor rear projection, and daytime cycloramas are intercut to form what should be one continuous night, before the island inhabitants and local racial stereotypes marshal themselves to a local castle the next morning, to stand against a hungry T-Rex.)
The one person who treated the film with utter sincerity is composer Ronald Stein, and while much of the score's thematic cues are repeatedly tracked over various scenes, his stellar orchestral score gives the film a straight-faced, dramatic undercurrent. (The lone exception are the comedic moments as a thawed Neanderthal pokes and prods through a house, trying on women's dresses and tasting was fruit before a flushing toilet literally has him fleeing outside with vaudevillian fervor. Stein's score gets a little cheeky in spots, but the soundtrack CD from Percepto offers a more serious and engaging experience.)
Image's DVD also includes the film's brief trailer (tracked with Universal's Creature from the Black Lagoon music), and a good stills and poster gallery.
Although a feature film debut for co-stars Ward Ramsay and Kristina Hanson, only Ramsay continued to act in films until the late sixties, while Yeaworth began a transition to more religious-themed projects.
© 2006 Mark R. Hasan