A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 408 – When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth – April 12th, 2011

Back when we bought Moon Zero Two on DVD, a purchase I still stand by because that movie rocks, we got this along with it. Not on purpose, it was just on the same disc so it was sort of part of the price we paid. But hey, we intentionally bought Moon Zero Two and a number of other ridiculous cheesy movies. So no big deal, right? We had no idea what it was we had brought into our collection. Honestly, I was left a little speechless when it was over. Not that I was speechless through the movie itself. I mocked it mercilessly. But yeah. Reviewing it? Where do I begin?

First off, it’s not in English. This is amusing to me mostly because when we were looking for it to put in tonight we came upon Santo Frente a la Muerte, which we bought on a whim. Sadly, while we knew it would be in Spanish we didn’t realize the DVD had no dubbing or subtitling. And we bemoaned having to keep it out of the project because we can’t understand enough of it (we did watch the whole thing). Then we put this in and. Well. There’s a voiceover at the beginning telling us:

“A time of beginnings, of darkness, of light, of the sun, the earth, the sea, of man! The beginnings of man living with man, by the sea, in the mountains. The beginning of love, hate, and fear. Man’s fear of the unknown. Man’s fear lest the sun should leave him, leave him alone in everlasting darkness. A time when the color of a woman’s hair condemned her to sacrifice to the sun. A time when there was as yet no moon.”

And thus ends the English language portion of our film. The rest of the movie is in a created language and there are no subtitles. We checked. I demanded that we check. Because it was all “Neecro! M’kan! Akita!” and so on and so forth. And that’s the whole movie. From beginning to end. Your only hope of understanding what’s going on is to watch the actors and try to distinguish one shaggy-haired man with a beard from another shaggy-haired man with a beard and one tribe of be-loinclothed folks from another.

Part of my problem was that since the language is mostly single word statements, figuring out what’s a name and what’s not was tricky for everyone but the two leads. Everyone else just sort of mingles together. I know Sanna, our female lead, starts out in a tribe that sacrifices women with blond hair, apparently to appease the sun or a sun god, not that it matters since they’re pretty much the same thing to these folks as far as the movie’s concerned. Anyhow, the ceremony gets interrupted, Sanna gets swept out to sea and ends up rescued by a fishing boat from another tribe. The new tribe live by the sea and hunt dinosaurs and go fishing and Sanna builds herself a hut way off to the side and her rescuer, Tara, comes and romances her. But it’s not long before the new tribe decides Sanna’s blond hair is evil and she’s got to die. I think. There’s some rivalry with one of the brunettes too, but honestly I don’t care.

The rest of the movie deals with Sanna escaping and living on her own and Tara finding her and them having sex and the tribe chasing them and hunting them and there are dinosaurs and one of them listens to Sanna when she tells it “neecha! akita!” which IMDB tells me means “bad! look!” but dude, they say “akita” a lot and it doesn’t always make sense. I stopped trying to figure it out early on. So once Sanna escapes it’s sort of one dangerous event after another. There’s a snake and a giant carnivorous plant and a pterodactyl and the friendly dinosaur and a giant crab and a tidal wave and some prehistoric liturgical dance and some rolling around in the sand in fear that the sun’s gone out or something like that. Suffice it to say that stuff happens and we see lots of butts.

This movie is chock full of scantily clad men and women. The costumes they’re wearing don’t even begin to cover them up. Nipples are in evidence everywhere and oh, so many bottoms. Bottoms everywhere. It’s a movie full of skin, which is part of the point. I mean, it’s pretty clear that this movie is meant to be eye candy for anyone who likes burly guys and buxom gals (especially buxom gals, but really, the men are on display too). There’s lots of heaving and bouncing and bending over and rolling around and they’re always sweaty and tanned and greasy and so on. You just sort of have to either be into that or let it wash over you.

The truly odd bit for me is the combination of things that make up this movie. Because there’s the ridiculous language and the thoroughly wooden acting of the man playing Tara (he’s got a few shots where he’s supposed to be reacting to something important and he just stares blankly at the camera). And there’s the skin and tight costumes and humans and dinosaurs living together. And then there are the dinosaurs themselves. There are a couple of instances of iguanas and little crocodiles with horns stuck on, but mostly? The dinosaurs are really quite excellently done stop motion animation. It’s bizarre. It’s a thoroughly inexplicable movie and I don’t know what else to say about it. I don’t recommend it and I’m baffled at owning it, but in a perverse way I’m glad we’ve seen it. It’s just something so uniquely odd and that’s all I can say about it.

April 12, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | Leave a comment

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

April 12, 2011

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

Oh, wow. What on Earth is this? We ended up owning this because it is part of a two-for-one movie set with Moon Zero Two, which we desperately wanted to have in our collection, but we really didn’t have any idea what it was. Okay, I kind of suspected it was a cheesy One Million Years BC knockoff but nothing prepared me for this bizarre combination of pantomime, mystical nonsense, surprisingly good special effects and constant wardrobe malfunctions.

I knew going into this movie that it was going to be a strange kind of fantasy. Movies involving pre-historic people interacting with dinosaurs are by necessity not particularly realistic. But then during the opening narration (the only English in the entire film) we are told that this movie takes place in a time when there was not yet a moon. (Really?) The primitive people of this strange alternative Earth believe that they need to sacrifice the blond female members of their tribe in order to make the sun rise. (You would think that they’d soon run out of blonds since they are clearly a minority in the tribe and the ceremony at the start of the film are sacrificing them three at a time.) The strange thing is that they might actually be right – when one of the blonds tries to escape and plummets to her death the sun actually does go out and a strange storm blow up out of nowhere. Under cover of the storm our heroine Sanna escapes out to sea where she is rescued by the simple fisherman Tara.

His people are dinosaur hunters who live off the bounty of the sea. They welcome Sanna among them (except for Tara’s jealous ex-girlfriend who finds herself spurned because he is fascinated by Sanna’s flaxen locks.) Her old tribe soon comes looking for her, however, because the sun keeps switching on and off for some reason and their leader is obsessed with the notion that she must be sacrificed. She flees into the wilderness and… stuff happens. There’s a big snake, a man-eating plant, a triceratops, a dinosaur that believes Sanna is its child… stuff like that. Tara finds Sana in the wildreness, is captured by hunters, sacrificed himself, survives, re-unites with Sana and they would live in bliss were it not for apparently both tribes combined hunting them across the land in one of the longest chase scenes ever filmed.

A couple things stand out about this movie. It has no English dialog for one – instead it uses a made-up language which only seems to have five or six words to it. Even if it were in English this limited vocabulary would make communication hard for the peoples of the film. They’re limited to shouting the equivalent of “Look! Come! Go! Kill!” So any time they need to communicate they need to do a lot of waving their arms around, pointing and such. It looks like a difficult way to get things done.

Also difficult for the primitive people of this world must be the impractical wardrobe. Everybody (except for one particular older woman in Tara’s tribe) wears absolutely minimal clothing. Breech clouts for all and strapless bikini tops for the women. Tops which are ever so slightly too small. It’s horribly distracting that the actress playing Sanna spends so much time popping out of her costume. It just plain doesn’t fit, and the film makers seem to have made the entire movie with the intent of putting her in situations where it will fail. Swimming, running, bending over. This movie makes me feel uncomfortably voyeuristic.

Most incongruously this movie features some top flight stop-motion animation. The dinosaurs are detailed, intricate and well animated. Indeed there are a couple shots that I simply can’t figure out. For example when Tara’s tribe is tying down a kind of cross between a seal and a pliosaurus by its neck. The actors holding the ropes interact with the stop motion puppet seamlessly. Likewise there’s a shot where some actors throw spears at the dinosaur which works amazingly well. How did this cheesy exploitation film end up with such astonishing (and apparently Oscar nominated) special effects? It boggles the mind.

That pretty much summarises the movie for me. Mind boggling. It’s such an odd mix of the ludicrous and the ambitiously creative that I just don’t know how to file it in my brain. Were it made today it would be on the SciFi channel and involve lots of digital effects and fewer bare breasts. They just don’t make them like this any more.

April 12, 2011 Posted by | daily reviews | , , | Leave a comment