Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide
I hope you all went to see “Jurassic Park” in 3D this past week. This movie rates low on the Blaise Bad-Movie Scale — meaning that it’s good — and must be seen on the big screen. The 3D effects are fine here and there — all in all, a first-rate entry into the prehistoric movie genre. Things weren’t always so great, however. Journeying back into cinematic prehistory, we rise to ever-higher levels of movie badness.
Our first stop lands us in 1975 and “The Land that Time Forgot,” based upon the 1924 novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Doug McClure stars — probably the only actor to give Lee Majors a run for his money in the stone-faced competition. The dinosaurs are puppets, hand-held or on strings, rather than stop-motion, and look like leftover piñatas. The script is literate, however, so while this flick rates higher on the bad-movie scale than “Jurassic Park” there remain loftier levels.
Let’s go back to 1969, for “One Million Years BC.” This movie is dialogue-free, except for caveman grunts, so you might assume the script was written by Congress. Raquel Welch stars in a fur bikini and steals the show in a cave-woman catfight. Ignoring the fact that dinosaurs and people are depicted as living at the same time (a 65-million year error), the dino-effects — created by master Ray Harryhausen — are top-notch. Which means we haven’t yet scraped the top of the barrel.
We’ll skip “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” (remember the banner that falls down during the end of “Jurassic Park”?). Instead, we set the way-back machine for 1957 and land with a thud on “The Land Unknown.” Do you remember this movie? Hence the title.
“Jurassic Park” starts off with a bang, while “Land Unknown” starts off with a screwy love plot — the scientist/hero tells the heroine he is attracted to her even though he knows she is mostly made of H2O; she tells him to stick to diesel. Remember in “JP” when Ellie Sattler was going through the dino poo and speculating about diseases that afflicted Triceratops? While flying over Antarctica the heroine in “Land Unknown” enlightens her companions with the observation that the penguins look like they are wearing tuxedos. Remember in “JP” when Samuel Jackson says “Hold onto your butts!”? Obviously inspired by the line “Hold onto your parkas!” uttered in “The Land Unknown” when the plane’s about to crash. The T-Rex in “JP” tears into the park jeeps with fury. The T-Rex in “Unknown” — a guy in a suit — staggers up to a downed helicopter like a drunken frat boy.
So have we reached the apex of awfulness for dinosaur flicks?
Well, no, actually. There’s a gem from 1948 called “Unknown Island” — but we won’t sink that high.
— Blaise Majkowski
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