Planet of Dinosaurs – USA, 1977 – overview and reviews


Planet of Dinosaurs is a 1977 American science fiction feature film produced and directed by James K. Shea from a screenplay written by Ralph Lucas, based on a story by Jim Aupperle (as James Aupperle). The Deathbeast Productions movie stars James Whitworth, Pamela Bottaro, Harvey Shain and Charlotte Speer.

Plot:

Set in an unspecified future, the film follows the journey of Captain Lee and his crew after they crash land on a planet with similar life conditions as Earth, but millions of years behind in time.

Encountering a wide variety of dangerous dinosaurs, the crew decides that its best chance for survival lies on finding higher ground and setting up a defensive perimeter on a higher plateau for refuge to wait for when or if their rescuers arrive. They soon encounter a deadly Tyrannosaurus and must figure out a way to defeat the creature and survive on the planet.

After a mechanical failure aboard the spaceship Odyssey, Captain Lee Norsythe (Louie Lawless) is forced to crash land on a planet with atmosphere and conditions much like that of Earth, although it is many light-years away.

As the ship sinks into the lake that it landed in, communications officer Cindy (Mary Appleseth) realises that she forgot the radio in the ship and attempts to retrieve it, with the assistance of fellow crew-member Chuck (Chuck Pennington). En route, Cindy is attacked and killed by an unidentified aquatic creature, prompting Chuck to return to shore without the radio.


Realizing that they are stranded, the remaining eight people aboard the ship decide that survival is their primary goal and begin to explore the planet that they have landed on. Derna Lee (Derna Wylde) quickly loses one of the laser guns that Mike (Max Thayer) had given her, leaving the stranded individuals with one less weapon. They eventually come across a brontosaurus, which leads them to deduce that the planet is following a similar evolutionary track as Earth, but is millions of years younger.

Later, Charlotte (Charlotte Spear) determines that the plant life, especially the berries, is poisonous. After another dinosaur encounter, Lee decides that the best option is to climb the mountains and reach a higher plateau, where he believes the large creatures will be unable to reach them…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“The movie packs a surprising amount of dinosaurs, considering its low budget and the tendency of such films to advertise more than they can dish out. If you watch it with some friends, I guarantee you will laugh out loud at the film and the weird moments packed into it.” Cheap as They Come

“This flick is a strange dichotomy of ultra (as in Prisoners of the Lost Universe) cheap production design, location shooting that would have looked dated and obvious in a Rocky Jones: Space Ranger serial, and thoroughly impressive and detailed stop-motion dinosaur effects that alone propel the movie way ahead of the pack as far as cheap 70’s SF movies go.” Cinemasochist Apocalypse

“This movie is one of those hideously bad labors of love that you can laugh at and deride, but you just can’t hate. Partly that’s because it’s endowed with stop-motion animation several orders of magnitude better than any other production element.” ColdFusion.com

“Featuring actors sporting bushy hair and mustaches … colored jumpsuits doubling as futuristic space-wear, overall clumsy acting, a grating synth score and an spaceship interior which looks like it was built in some neighbor’s garage, Planet of Dinosaurs can’t hide its bargain basement production values […] has gained a reputable following because of its excellent stop-motion dinosaur effects…” DVD Drive-In

” …it’s not a good film. But I’ve also been pretty honest on this blog in admitting that I can put up with a lot of crap in order to enjoy well-crafted, handmade special effects. And the stop-motion sequences in this film – if not quite up to Ray Harryhausen or Jim Danforth standards – are very well done and very enjoyable.” Space: 1970

Choice dialogue:

Mike: “Yeah! We’re alive and we’re safe… and we’re shipwrecked. Two outta three ain’t bad.”

Mike: “It was a hunting call. Something out there is carnivorous. And it sounds very, very hungry.”

Captain Lee Norsythe: “We can’t risk lives trying to tame dinosaurs!”

$_57-6

Cast and characters:

  • Mary Appleseth … Cindy
  • Harvey Shain … Harvey Baylor
  • Derna Wylde … Derna Lee
  • Max Thayer … Mike (as Michael Thayer)
  • Chuck Pennington … Chuck
  • Charlotte Speer … Charlotte
  • Louie Lawless … Captain Lee Norsythe
  • Pamela Bottaro … Nyla
  • James Whitworth … Jim
  • Michael Lee … Charlotte’s Son

Technical details:

  • 84 minutes
  • Audio: Mono
  • Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

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