In Horrors from Screen to Scream, Ed Naha calls Dinosaurus! (1960) an:
Amusing romp for the small fry…
It’s been a long time since I’ve been considered a “small fry,” but the movie was plenty amusing for me. Somehow I was able to overlook its flaws and watch it through the eyes of a child, specifically Julio (Alan Roberts), the dinosaur lover who actually gets to see two live ones when they’re unearthed from the bottom of the ocean during construction on the tropical island where he lives.
Julio’s guardian is the villain of the movie, Mike Hacker (Fred Engelberg.) Hacker is the “island manager” and sees nothing but dollar signs when the dinosaurs are brought to shore. He’s despicable, knocking around Julio and failing to send a telegram for the Smithsonian requesting paleontologists. Luckily, Julio has Ward Ramsey (Bart Thompson) and Betty Piper (Kristina Hanson) to look after him.
This is a movie where the contractor of a controversial construction project is actually the good guy and the man trying to thwart him at every turn on behalf of the natives is the bad guy. Chuck (Paul Lukather) is the hunky, often shirtless, go-between that we never question ending up on the right side. The characters and relationships are as clear as you’d expect from a movie with a bulldozer driver called, “Dumpy” (Wayne C. Treadway.)
Almost overlooked is the neanderthal man that is also found in the mud. He becomes the comic relief. At first, I was leery; however, his broad antics (and actor Gregg Martell’s overacting) grew on me and I became forgiving of them, even when he shoves a pie into Hacker’s face. He and Julio become buds (“Holy smoke! A real caveman!”) and it warms the heart to see the two of them riding through the jungle on the neck of a brontosaurus.
In The Great Book of Movie Monsters, Jan Stacy and Ryder Syvertsen provide some “factual” information about the beasts in Dinosaurus. After listing the vital statistics of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and brontosaurus, they describe our human ancestor as the “typical hairy Neanderthal type.” They also offer some other fun characteristics:
Superpowers: T-Rex - strength of a herd of elephants. Jaws that can crush a Sherman tank. Tail when whipped around can uproot trees, demolish houses. Brontosaurus - very strong but friendly creature, with long powerful tail that could even knock down (if only momentarily) a T-Rex. Accomplishments: T-Rex kills Bronto, rips up mineshaft, destroys school bus, battles steam shovel. Brontosaurus tries to save boy. Invulnerable to: T-Rex - bullets, other dinosaurs. Vulnerable to: Fire, human machinery; Bronto - vulnerable to T-Rex, who kills him. Current Status: T-Rex, Bronto, the caveman (killed in a mine shaft while saving the boy) are all dead.
The famous bulldozer vs. dinosaur scene happens during the climax, but it’s worth the wait. Thompson faces off with it, bashing it on the side of the head with the scoop. When the T-Rex bites it, Thompson spins, forcing the monster to the edge of the cliff where he can then push it off to its death on the rocks below. By this time, the combination of various dinosaur effects are as acceptable and lovable as those in any given episode of Land of the Lost.
A seven-page article in Famous Monsters of Filmland #40 says:
The animated monsters themselves were built by the master hand of Marcel Delgado, creator of King Kong and The Lost World models. One interesting scene was that of the Tyrannosaurus wrecking an island bus. This stop-motion sequence was good to create a terrible feeling toward the monster. Other scenes of relative worth were the battle of the brontosaurus & Tyrannosaurus, and the Tyrannosaurs & the crane. A similar scene - altho much more effective, smooth & realistic - could be found in The Animal World.
The article is full of the usual one-liners such as, “This crane is a pain in the neck sez a very vexed Rex” and headings like “tyrannosaurus wrecks” and "how to make a dino sore." The joking spirit of FM is perfectly paired with Dinosaurus. The article was reprinted twice (#19 and 1970 Fearbook) and featured in #63 as part of a feature called The Prehistoric Story Part II: more amazing lore about the mighty dinosaur.
Written by Dan E. Weisburd, Jean Yeaworth
Original idea by Jack H. Harris
Directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.
Starring Ward Ramsey, Paul Lukather, Kristina Hanson, Alan Roberts, Fred Engelberg, Wayne C. Treadway, Gregg Martell
RT 83 min.
Released in August 10, 1960
Home Video Kino Lorber Studio Classics (Blu-ray)
Ed Naha, Horrors from Screen to Scream
1975, New York, NY, Avon Books
Jan Stacy and Ryder Syvertsen, The Great Book of Movie Monsters
1983, Chicago, IL, Contemporary Books Inc.
Dinosaurus! peril from the prehistoric
Famous Monsters of Filmland #40
August 1966, United States, Warren Publishing Co.
The Prehistoric Story Part II: more amazing lore about the mighty dinosaur
Famous Monsters of Filmland #63
March 1970, United States, Warren Publishing Co.