Monday, March 5, 2012

REVIEW: When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth
Director: Val Guest
Year 1970
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth is a fantastic prehistoric adventure film that continues the grand tradition started by Hammer Films in 1966 with One Million Years B.C., and that’s showcasing cleavage and clashing dinosaurs. This combination is as exciting as you would imagine and no one did it quite like Hammer when it came to the blending of fantasy and horror elements with the breathtaking beauty of some of the most mesmerizing starlets.
The film follows the misadventures of the young and beautiful Sanna, a woman who is marked by her tribe for sacrifice but through a series of unexpected and cataclysmic events is saved and brought into the arms of Tara, a man from a neighboring tribe. Being blamed for the unfortunate events that followed her escape, Sanna must survive the brutal world of this fictitious prehistoric landscape while at the same time staying out of the vengeful path of her former tribe, who would like nothing more then to see her sacrifice fulfilled. Run Sanna, Run!

This film is a blast as it combines two thing that never in a million years ever existed in the same place and time, but melds them together so believably that you can’t help but wonder, why the hell not. The role of Sanna, the young blonde outcast, is played by the fit and well equipped Victoria Vetri. Having never seen her act before, I didn’t know what to expect, but she did a great job with the material and lack of dialogue. In this movie, the actors were forced to find a more primal sense of conveying their actions and Victoria did a stupendous job through mannerisms and facial expression, allowing us to see her innocent and brave character come to life. For the most part, you don’t even acknowledge the lack of dialogue because the actors are set in that Neanderthal style of thinking and follow through with this technique with commendable effort.
The other main character of When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth is that of Tara, a young man with a sensible head on his shoulders, played by Robin Hawdon. Hawdon was another actor that I hadn’t been familiar with before viewing this film, but he does his heroic character justice and is able to have some rather inspiring moments that show off his noble sensibility as an actor and of course his athletic ability. It’s great to see him take on giant lizards, terrifying sea creatures, and everything in between in order to save Sanna from the constant dangers she encounters throughout this film.
What is really great about the two main characters of Sanna and Tara is that they have a special chemistry between them and we root for them to stay together throughout the story. Both Victoria and Hawdon sell this notion and give us hope that they can weather the storm and push back any adversity this prehistoric world throws at them. The central theme of the film is the connection that these two characters have and the relationship that they share, and the actors do a tremendous job in selling this fact.

Another aspect of this film that really works is the fantastic world that the filmmakers have created. The notion that man and dinosaurs coexisted in some long distant forgotten past, is a crazy thought and downright ludicrous, but Val Guest sells this topsy-turvy concept through the use of some expansive, on location, locales that showcase a tremendous scope and an epic ambition for the production. The deep valleys and extensive coast lines are glorious to behold and even the matte painting work is quite impressive and awe inspiring.

The effects work is equally extraordinary, with some convincing stop motion animated creatures that interact with their human counterparts amazingly well. The film has a great variety of dinosaurs that grace the screen in the most impactful of ways, including a triceratops, a pterodactyl, a plesiosaur, and even some other iterations of prehistoric beasts to spice up the action. To note, there are a few scenes where dinosaurs are represented by live action alligators with horns on their head, but they are so far and few between that they really don’t take away from the film that much. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, stop motion works in these types of film so keep with the animated monsters. This film is a good example of that mantra, showcasing some of the most accomplished animated characters that the genre has introduced over the years.

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth is a remarkable and accomplished fantasy picture that just so happens to be a ton of fun. Hammer Films managed to make a classy prehistoric romp, filled with camp flavor and cleavage filled elements. The mixture is somewhat reminiscent of their horror efforts of the 70’s. There’s an aura of class and atmosphere, but they manage to wedge in these guilty pleasures that genre fans just love.
The acting, which comprised of limited words and grunting, was admirable across the board, forcing the actors to rely on their mannerisms to convey the intended effect or emotion of the moment. The technique worked for this movie and established the savage world in which the characters lived in. The effects work was also vital in establishing the validity of the fantasy world on screen. The creatures and beasts leap to life in vivid conceptualized glory, showcasing some outstanding stop motion animation that must have made Ray Harryhausen proud. Put all of these elements together and you have yourself one hell of an entertaining flick. When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth is a prehistoric film that…..

Those crazy cavemen are up to their wacky antics again. 

Take it easy! It's just a mask lady.

This can't be good.

Westside! Represent!

Ahoy there! We come bearing a hot chick!

Now that we trapped it, what the hell are we going to do with it?

How cute. A pet dinosaur.

Uncle grumpy Sam wants you!

Hubba hubba.

It's not fair! She's hotter than me!

This dude fell head over heals for this dino.

Run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me I'm the neanderthal man.

Can we keep it?

What the shit are you doing near my eggs?

You're such a man's man Tara.

Wipe that smug look off your face.


Welcome to the prehistoric jungle baby! Your ass is gonna die!

Maybe if we stand perfectly still, it won't see us. Screw that! RUN!


  1. I still have yet to watch the WB dvd of this, lol. I remember when this came out on disc, Warners mistakenly released the longer international cut with the nudity and sex scene that was cut from the theatrical release. There was a recall not long after. Not sure if the later discs were the same version with rating changed on the back or not. Lovely screen caps and review. Likely will have to wait for the weekend to see it.

  2. I remember reading about that when doing some research on the film. That's one hell of a nice mistake to make, hahaha. Was your addition a double feature with the sci-fi film Moon Zero Two? That's the edition that I own and reviewed, with naughty bits intact.