“It eats meat! Us!”
A billionaire tycoon and big game hunter (Richard Boone, Have Gun—Will Travel), has discovered a pocket of warm climate in a polar ice cap. He leads an expedition in there, discovering it to be a throwback to another time, in which both primitive humans and giant dinosaurs still exist. The team finds themselves pursued by one especially hungry and tenacious tyrannosaurus rex, The Last Dinosaur.
This was a tough watch. On paper, it’s a great idea—a throwback to the old timey “jungle adventure” flicks Hollywood used to churn out, not to mention the stop motion dinosaur awesomeness cooked up by the likes of Ray Harryhausen and Willis O’Brien. The problem is that the movie’s 1970s-ishness overwhelms the story’s good intentions.
Take Richard Boone as our supposedly rugged adventurer. Maybe back in the heyday of the Westerns, he was a big action hero, but in this movie, he’s more like the aging guy who buys a flashy sports car. The oh-so-romantic scene in which he seduces a younger woman is not charming, but icky. I just never once bought this frumpy-looking guy as a globe-trotting big game hunter, no matter how ten gallon of a hat you put on him. With apologies to his many fans, this guy dragged the whole movie down for me.
What you want to know about is the dinosaur, right? When I learned the movie was produced by Rankin and Bass, creators of numerous classic stop motion animated holiday specials, I sat down ready for some way-cool stop motion dino action. Instead, the big beastie is a combo of a puppet and a guy in a rubber suit. The effect is…let’s say, clunky.
Based on my research, it appears that this movie was intended to be released theatrically to coincide with the success of the 1976 King Kong remake. Instead, the movie was pulled from release, and later dumped onto television as a Friday night made-for-TV movie. This DVD contains the original theatrical release, before about ten minutes were cut to make room for commercials.
The folks at Warner Archive have done a great job with The Last Dinosaur‘s visuals, with a surprisingly clean and sharp transfer. The mono sound isn’t as impressive, but does the job. This being a Warner Archive disc, what we lose with a lack of bonus features, we gain by even having these rarities on DVD at all.
If you have fond childhood memories of this flick, you might get a kick out of this release. For everyone else, skip it.