its 10:00 pm
While I was poking around the massive library that is Warner Brothers Archive,I spotted a movie from my childhood,”The Last Dinosaur”. I remember that it aired on a Friday as a ABC “Friday Night Movies” selection.The only other movie that I remember from that series of made for TV movie series was a silly but fun movie called “Killdozer”. While I can recall the movie,at the time I watched it,I didn’t remember anything about the cast until much later. All I know was it had giant monsters and as a kid who grew up watching Godzilla and Gamera movies,that was all I needed to know.
As I sat there looking at the cover of “The Last Dinosaur”,I decided to send a message to “MP”,our deep cover asset at Warner Brothers and ask him to send a copy our way. The cheetah was giving me a stink eye look until I explained that his namesake,Paladin (Richard Boone to everyone else),had starred in it and that he was going to like this old classic. The cheetah remained a little aloof as we have been in a bit of a rut in terms of our movies we have been watching as of late.
The film opens up with singer Nancy Wilson singing the theme song “The Last Dinosaur” as see various pictures cross the screen as a young woman is going through various photo albums.
Soon we meet billionaire and big game hunter Maston Thrust (Boone) come into the room and we see that they are on Thrust’s private jet. Upon landing,the couple walk off the plane and head towards a limo until Thrust stops. He turns to the woman,hands her a plane ticket back to where she from (Portland,Ore) and a solid gold rifle bullet. When the woman asks what is supposed to do with a gold bullet,Thrust says she can sell it if things get tough and then he climbs into his limo.
Thrust then drives to his company’s HQ,he has made his billions by drilling and finding oil all over the world. Now one of his missions have gone south and he is holding a press conference to explain what has happened and what he is planning to do next.
At the press conference geologist Chuck Wade (Steven Keats) explains what happened on the last mission,they had taken a masnned laser drill called a “polar borer” and had gone under the seabed,they had gone off course and had surfaced into a hidden valley near the North Pole. The valley despite being located near the polar cap was being heated by a volcano. Wade stayed behind
the polar borer while his 4 other crew mates investigated this incredible find.
While they were doing this,the four men were suddenly attacked by an Tyannosaurus Rex and eaten,Wade was barely able to escape.
While the room explodes with this news,Thrust takes control and says that he is going back there to see for himself. The new mission will include Thrust himself,his top hunting guide Banta,Wade,Dr.Kawamoto and a member of the press whom the press room with pick. The press room selected Pulitzer winner photographer Frankie Banks (Joan Van Ark) but Thrust rejects her based on her sex.
Maston is hosting a party later that night and Frankie seduces him into taking her on the trip with Maston calling her “crazy lady”.
The mission is launched and soon they are back into the valley that Wade told them about. They get out of the polar borer and see huge prehistoric birds flying aroud.
The five set up camp and leaving Dr. Kawamoto behind,they set out. Frankie comments on Maston taking his rifle,reminding him that he promised not to kill the T Rex should they come across it.
Sure enough they do meet the huge dinosaur and Thrust can’t get a clean shot,in his frustration,he jams his rifle and tosses it aside as the group runs for their lives.
The T-Rex finds their camp (which was out in the open),kills Dr. Kawamoto and takes the polar borer as a trophy,burying it in a area which is littered with the bones of the T-Rex’s meals.
The four survivors come back to find their camp destroyed,one of them dead and no way to get home. Thrust had told his staff not to send any type of rescue party because he didn’t want anyone else dying.
The movie then shows over the course of several months of the group adapting to their enviroment which means dealing with a tribe of cavemen who keep stealing their food. It isn’t until Maston creates a crossbow and kills a raider that they are left alone except for a cavewoman they call Hazel.
Friction starts to rise between Wade and Maston over Frankie and she doesn’t help matters by being romantic with both men.
Maston is now becoming obsessed with killing the T-Rex and he and the others build a catapult in an attempt to kill it. Wade then finds the polar borer and says if they all work together,they can be heading home in a day or so. Maston refuses to leave and Bunta stays with him but is killed shortly afterwards by the T-Rex.
Now down to three members,choices have to be made…..either attempt to kill the last dinosaur and be stranded or work together and take the one chance to get home…..who lives and who dies and who will be the last one standing?
The one thing that blazed my mind as I watched “The Last Dinosaur” was how John Wayne’s last film was the classic “The Shootist” which ironically featured Richard Boone. It was one of Wayne’s best films and he went out in a blaze of glory. Richard Boone got the “The Last Dinosaur” and he went out in a pile of velveeta cheese.
This film was co-produced by Jules Bass,Arthur Rankin,Jr. and famed Japanese kaiju director Noboru Tsuburaya. Now if these names ring a bell for older readers its because Bass and Rankin,Jr. are famous for their animated Christmas shows- Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer which are still holiday mainstays on TV. Tsuburaya is the creator of the famous Ultra-Man TV series of which are still being created and shown in Japan today.
“The Last Dinosaur” was filmed in Japan and the T-Rex was filmed in the old fashioned way with a man in the suit just like in all those old Godzilla films. And that brings us to most exciting part about this movie -“The Last Dinosaur” is the “lost” Godzilla film you never knew existed until now. Yep,the T-Rex’s roar is Godzilla’s as well. See,the cheetah and I are bringing you some cool stuff here,aren’t we?
The effects are badly outdated even for 1977 and there is one scene where they use a damn model for a set. Poor Richard Boone…..but Richard got his revenge because he overacted to the damn hilt in this movie. It is clear that he was there for a paycheck and nothing more. His Maston Thrust is a vile,selfish and sexist man. He uses and discards women like we would a napkin. For such a mighty big game hunter,he shows zero patience and when his rifle jams,he has no idea of how to clear it!! He just tosses it away!!
But Joan Van Ark’s Frankie comes across as a bit of a slut,willing to sleep to Maston just to get included in the mission and then looking to hook up with Wade. It’s not a good look and its insulting even back in those days.
Keats was okay as Wade but my biggest question was why in the hell would he ever go BACK to that place!!? And especially with no weapons or back-up plan in place.
The original cut of “The Last Dinosaur” was 1hr 46 mins and was made for a theater release but no one in North America bit,it was released in Japan and a few other markets. It was picked up here and had its run time cut to 90 minutes (the cuts were made for violence) before its run on ABC.
“The Last Dinosaur”had all the makings of a cult film and I think it would have if there had been more dinosaur fights,as it was,they only featured one tussle and it was a short one.
“The Last Dinosaur” has a run time of 1 hr 46 minutes and is rated PG.