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Eric D. Snider

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Eric has been a film critic since 1999, and a beard wearer since 2008. He holds a degree in journalism and used to work in "the newspaper industry," back when that was a thing.

Eric’s Bad Movies: ‘Dinosaur Island’ (1994)

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Some bad movies were inspired by specific other movies, usually good ones (although sometimes bad movies borrow from other bad movies, which seems like an obviously bad idea, but what do I know, I don’t make bad movies). And then you get something like “Dinosaur Island,” a bad movie that was inspired not by a specific movie, or even a type of movie, but by MANY types of movies. Among them:

- Movies about uncharted islands where prehistoric creatures still live.

- Movies that are transparent attempts to capitalize on recent trends. (This came out a year after “Jurassic Park.”)

- Movies about sarcastic, wise-cracking men who are not particularly handsome or capable but who hook up with dumb, beautiful women.

- Movies about exotic tribes of warrior-women where you are not allowed to be in the tribe unless you are thin, buxom, gorgeous, and willing to run around topless a lot for no reason.

- Movies that do not take themselves seriously, and yet are also not funny.

- Movies that are only 79 minutes long but feel like an eternity because all the characters are irritating morons and you want them to die, but you know they won’t because it’s a comedy.

As you can see, “Dinosaur Island” has everything you could want in an insufferable movie that you hate the experience of sitting through.

It’s about some Army guys whose plane crashes on an unknown island in the Pacific inhabited by both dinosaurs and women — “cavewomen,” as the Army guys call them, though they are more refined and centerfold-y than that term conjures, and more prone to giving one another soapy lagoon sponge baths. The dinosaurs, of which there are both predators and harmless plant-eaters, are mostly shoddy mechanical models that resemble parade floats.

I don’t know what this says about the current state of America’s armed forces, but the men are far more surprised to see women on the island than they are to see dinosaurs. They’re duly frightened of the dinosaurs, but they don’t express much in the way of “Huh, that’s weird, there are dinosaurs here.” Just sort of like “Well, sure, dinosaurs. You’re gonna have some of that on an uncharted island.” The WOMEN, though! The women totally knock them for a loop. The first Army guy to see one of them initially believes he must have imagined it, as if the very idea of a woman being on an island is completely unfathomable. An isthmus or a peninsula, sure, but not an island!

I should mention that the Army guys are glib idiots, like rejects from a “Police Academy” sequel only less funny and less liable to find subsequent work in the film industry. One’s a tubby screw-up named Turbo; one wears glasses and is called Wayne the Brain; one is a schemer whose actual last name is Skeemer. They’re all, I don’t know, privates or freshmen or whatever. Their boss is Capt. Briggs (Ross Hagen), a gruff older fellow who has probably spent his entire career dealing with dummies like them. His trusty sidekick, Sgt. Healey (Steve Barkett), gets killed by a triceratops. Not a good day for Capt. Briggs however you look at it.

The men’s first introduction to both the hot ladies and the dinosaurs is when a small-ish T-Rex menaces the soldiers on the beach, is unharmed by their bullets, but then runs away when the women arrive and shake spears at it. Do the women wield special power over the monsters? They do not. In fact, they live in constant fear of a bigger T. rex called the Great One, and survive only by offering it a human sacrifice once a year. The reason they were able to chase off the beach dinosaur with nothing more than sharp sticks, you see, is that the movie needed the dinosaur to be gone for the rest of this scene, so the movie made the dinosaur go away.

The gals take the guys back to their village, where Queen Morganna (Toni Naples) says they should probably be put to death, what with their being outsiders and men and all. Then someone notices that Skeemer has a smiley face tattoo on his arm, and they think this means he and his buddies are the fulfillment of a prophecy about a group of men who will appear on the island and destroy the Great One. Yes, even a fiercely independent matriarchal society with no use for men is really just waiting around for the right men to show up and save them.

You are perhaps wondering how a single-gender society perpetuates itself. As it turns out, there is no need to reproduce because this is a magical island where nothing ages, and all the women are hundreds of years old and will live forever. Oh, and they are virgins. Yes, virgins! They have never had sex, on account of there being no men around. They know HOW to have sex, though, and do so more willingly than you would expect, and are better at it than you would think. But also, they have never heard of kissing. “Please show us, what is this ‘kissing’?” they say when they see a picture of it in the girlie magazine the Army horndogs have with them. My point is, the sex education courses being offered on Dinosaur & Lady Island may require additional scrutiny.

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Anyway, the Army guys are supposed to kill the Great One, but it’s going to be tough. Bullets don’t have any effect on these dinosaurs, and shaking spears at them is merely a temporary fix that only works when the plot requires it. While they’re figuring out a way to complete the assignment, the three younger Army cretins get cozy with three tribeswomen, whom they name April, May, and June, after the centerfold models they resemble. These actresses, bless their hearts, were models and pinup girls, not actresses, and they never should have been asked to recite dialogue out loud where people could hear. Then again, the men they’re paired with actually ARE actors, and they aren’t much better. It doesn’t help that they have stupid conversations like this:

SKEEMER: What about that [giant dinosaur] egg?
APRIL: What about it?
SKEEMER: It would make a hell of a Denver omelet!
YOU: SHUT UP, YOU IDIOT.

Each guy has a sex scene with his respective lady friend; this, ultimately, is the real point of the movie. Before the Internet brought cheap, reliable pornography into our homes, horny men who wanted to see beautiful women with giant fake breasts pretend to have sex with unappealing losers had to seek out steamy direct-to-video fare like “Dinosaur Island.” The two pervs who directed it — it took two guys to direct “Dinosaur Island” — both had a lot of experience with trashy exploitation flicks, and they knew what guys wanted: a few passionless sex scenes and a proliferation of narratively questionable nudity, all surrounded by agonizingly unfunny dialogue performed by bimbos and hams. On those counts, “Dinosaur Island” delivers!

P.S. Killing the Great One actually turns out to be pretty easy. They use a grenade. The end.


Categories: Columns

Tags: Dinosaur Island, Eric d. snider, Eric's bad movies

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