Movies From the Black Lagoon: Planet of the Dinosaurs

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Planet of the Dinosaurs- 1978, Not Rated
By Tom Doty

A space ship crash-lands on the titular planet (which turns out to be a good deal for the indigenous reptiles who are tired of eating each other) in this so-so effort from the late seventies that mixes fashion disasters with decent dinosaur effects.
It begins with the crew losing control of their incredibly large ship. They eject in a smaller vessel and promptly discover that they have discovered water. They swim to sure and realize some of their supplies are still on the sinking ship. A gorgeous astronaut promptly strips to reveal that she rocks a righteous bikini under her lame space-unitard. Unfortunately she doesn't sport much in the way of luck and is the first to be eaten. Her killer is obviously amphibious but we never get a good look at it.
Next we get the usual talk about waiting for a rescue however the lack of supplies means the group will have to forge onwards and set up signals for rescue ships when they make camp. Pretty soon they realize that the planet is a lot like Earth except they have arrived before the birth of human kind. In fact they have arrived at a very bizarre time that includes dinosaurs that never roamed the planet at the same time as well as giant spiders.
This hostile environment soon takes its toll on the party and group dynamics suffer. Meanwhile this turns out to be great news for the dinosaurs that proceed to chomp on the crew every chance they get. The group eventually decides to dig in and make a permanent camp but they must first deal with the local T-Rex who is not at home to giving up his berth at the top of the food chain. Pretty soon it's the power of human savvy vs. brutal lizard time. It all leads to a fine finale that pits our group against the King of dinosaurs in his own lair - worth a watch for dino-fans and anyone in search of a good laugh.
The laughs come courtesy of a lame screenplay that finds our heroes spending most of the movie wandering around and waiting to get eaten. The dialog is stilted and pedestrian acting further hampers it. The dinosaurs, how ever, are well rendered and they almost save the film all by themselves. The film gets its biggest assist by being thoroughly ridiculed by several members of the old 'Mystery Science Theater" gang. Turns out that Mike Nelson has formed "Rifftrax." It started out as an on-line project for fans of the previous show, which featured a guy and two robot pals riffing their way through a bad movie every week. Now you can go their website and down load audio commentary on current fare such as 'Ironman" or the latest "Harry Potter" film. If you purchase a "Rifftrax" DVD (which are priced to move at $9.99) you get a code for a free download from the site. You can simply collect the DVDs too and they have some great ones out now such as "Plan Nine From Outer Space" and "House on Haunted Hill."
This film is perfect fodder for Nelson as it features long stretches where nothing much happens. That's perfect for these guys and they help you get through the dull parts so you can enjoy the dinosaur mayhem. They have their work cut out for them as the dinos only eat up about eight minutes of screen time. The quips are well aimed at the tedious structure of the film (which amounts to scenes of people walking, eating, and resting) but there are also plenty of pop culture references which hit everything from 'American Idol" to David Mamet.
Best Line: "I don't think a chicken laid these eggs."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@myactv.net.