By Stephanie Zacharek
By Robrt L. Pela
By Aaron Cutler
By Amy Nicholson
By Simon Abrams
By Chris Klimek
By Nick Schager
By Stephanie Zacharek
One Million Years B.C. (Fox Home Video, 1966) and Valley of Gwangi (Warner Home Video, 1969)--Willis O'Brien's protege, and his successor as the premier artist in the stop-motion field, was Ray Harryhausen, who received a lifetime-achievement Oscar in 1993. Harryhausen supplied superb dinosaurs to menace Raquel Welch, for whom this remake of Roach's One Million B.C. was a showcase. Raquel manages to make even cave-gal babble sound stilted, but she looks great. Gwangi is about a T. rex discovered and corraled by rodeo cowboys in the Mexican desert. Among the highlights: a surreal scene of the beasts running rampant in a Catholic cathedral.
Journey to the Beginning of Time (Goodtimes Family Video, 1967)--Four boys take a rowboat out in Central Park, pass through a tunnel, and find themselves traveling down a river that leads them backward through time. Along its banks, they see the spectacle of the prehistoric animal world, brought to life by the Czech animator Karel Zeman, who also made celebrated films based on the works of Jules Verne, and on the Baron Munchausen tales. Zeman's style is technically primitive, yet it has a delicate, mysterious poetry. This might be an especially good film for very young children--Zeman's dinosaurs aren't threatening, but they aren't wimpy, either. No Barneys here.
Caveman (UA Home Video, 1981)--This zany comedy vehicle for Ringo Starr--who manages to make even cave-dude babble sound Liverpudlian--cheerfully sends up the cave-man genre, and features guest appearances from several anachronistic yet personable dinosaurs, wonderfully animated by David Allen. The best is a tyrannosaur who gets wasted on berries. There's a rousing, Cro-Magnon score by Lalo Schifrin, too.
Carnosaur (New Horizons Video, 1993)--Producer Roger Corman released this down-and-dirty low-budgeter within a few months of Jurassic Park. Based on a novel by the hilariously lurid British pulp writer Harry Adam Knight, the film stars the cheekily cast mother of Jurassic Park star Laura Dern, Diane Ladd. She's an antimale scientist who, at war with the patriarchy, hatches an army of carnivorous dinos from virus-infected chicken eggs. The beasties are played by clunky robotic puppets, made to look big through cost-conscious effects like cheated perspective, but the film is still fun, in a nasty sort of way. It has hatched at least one sequel.
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