|Planet Of Dinosaurs|
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|Director: James K. Shea
Original Release Year: 1978
Running Time: 84 minutes
DVD Released By: GoodTimes Entertainment
Audio: English mono
Closed Captions: None
UPC #: 018713812230
Catalog #: 05-81223
Status: Available (individually; was also available as part of the Dinosaur Mania Box Set)
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|The Film: While traveling through deep space, the starship Odyssey suffers a disaster. Its reactors go critical, and the ship disintegrates. An escape pod, carrying less than a dozen crew and passengers, crash lands on a planet that resembles prehistoric Earth. It even has dinosaurs! These people now have to struggle to survive on an uncharted planet, with little hope of rescue. Tension brews between Lee, the shipís captain, who wants to play everything safe; and Jim, the engineer, a survivalist who advocates a more aggressive approach.
One by one, the human cast is whittled down by various carnivorous creatures. The survivors reach a plateau, where they believe they will be safe from the larger animals. Just as they begin to settle down and establish a home, a Tyrannosaur-like predator smashes their stockade and begins hunting them mercilessly. They will have to overcome their fears, and work together, to fight back and stake their claim on this prehistoric planet.
Planet Of Dinosaurs is a B-movie through and through. Much of the dialogue is wooden. The characters do stupid things that put themselves and each other in danger. Some of the male crewmembers wear funny, one-piece, butt-hugging uniforms. The filmís selling point is its special effects. The first scenes, involving the spaceship, are laughable in their simplicity. However, things pick up on the planetís surface. The menagerie of prehistoric beasts is impressively realized with stop-motion animation. Many low-budget films that use the technique end up looking like jerky claymation. However, the animation in Planet Of Dinosaurs is very smooth, and the creature models are well built. (One of them looks like the Rhedosaurus from Ray Harryhausenís The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms; a bit of homage?) While itís no Jurassic Park, Planet Of Dinosaurs is recommended for dinosaur and stop-motion fans. Grade: C+
Video: Planet Of Dinosaurs has been a VHS bargain-bin staple for years. The fullscreen image on this DVD is an improvement in that the picture is sharper, and the colors more vibrant, than on the usual ďbudgetĒ tape. Having said that, itís still not very good. Grain is present, but isnít a major problem. There are intermittent speckles and lines. The worst problem is that some scenes are very dark and murky. There are a couple of evening / night scenes where the characters almost disappear; theyíre nothing but orange blobs moving in the darkness. Grade: C-
Audio: The English mono sound is serviceable, if nothing special. The dialogue and monster roars all sound okay. The suitably creepy synthesizer music seems overbearing at times, but itís not a flaw of the DVD. Thatís just the style itís done in, similar to a low-budget Italian horror film. Grade: C
Extras / Menus: There are no extras. The menus, which are still images with no music or sound, are very simple and easy to navigate. Grade: F
Final Analysis: An effective B-movie with nifty stop-motion dinos, on a cut-rate DVD. If youíre familiar with the film and enjoy it, feel free to replace your faded old VHS tapes. If youíve never seen it before, but enjoy stop-motion animation, give it a spin. Itís certainly inexpensive enough. Final Grade: C
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