Monday, January 29, 2024

Jurassic Lark!

Upon first glance, today's featured movie may not seem like something I would profile here at Poseidon's Underworld. And I'll be the first to admit that I had not only never seen it but also never even heard of it until a few days ago! Many times my posts here sort of topple into one another. While watching The F.B.I., there was an episode with an actor rather unfamiliar to me. When I looked him up, I discovered Dinosaurus! (1960.) Once I saw a few key photos from Dinosaurus!, I had to watch it. And now, having watched it, I had to share some of it with all of you! Full disclosure: Goofy as this is, albeit I found it entertaining nonetheless, this motion picture could have been about fungus growing on damp outdoor patio furniture and I still would have watched every frame. That's how enraptured I became over the actor in question. I had to stop myself from capturing every single instant that he appears on screen - and I barely succeeded on that front. Ha ha ha! We'll see what y'all think as we go along. (By the way, the poster above-right has a disclaimer on it - "Not Suitable for Children" - which is hysterical. The movie often seems as if it could only BE for children, it's so simple-minded.)

Our saga begins on this Caribbean island.

A construction crew is on site detonating dynamite underwater in order to deep the shoreline and make way for a new harbor that will allow bigger ships to visit.

In charge is Ward Ramsey while his second-in-command is the delectable Paul Lukather! (Do I even need to point out that Lukather, in the jaunty li'l cap, is my new object of obsession?)

Not too far away is the only cantina on the island (called Island Cantina! Ha!) where the husky Fred Engelberg is becoming enraged over the noise of the blasting.

Back at the site, Engelberg's ward Alan Roberts is having fun riding the bulldozer with one of the workers, though he's really not supposed to be doing it.

Suddenly Lukather calls Ramsey over. Not all of the charges have gone off yet, but he sees a small craft approaching!

Really, the movie could have been an hour and 23 minutes of Lukather's shirt being pulled open by his hairy chest and I would have been thrilled enough...

Turns out that Ramsey's girlfriend Kristina Hanson is the one in the approaching boat. She's bringing a large container full of lunch over to the men.

In long shots, her hair is blowing all to hell and back, but in close up it's molded to her head.

Since she either ignored or didn't understand their frantic warning signals, Ramsey heads out there to shoo her away himself, but just then the blasts go off! She's unharmed by them, but the resultant waves send her picnic container overboard.

Before he can stop her, she shucks off her clothes, revealing a bathing suit underneath, and dives underwater to retrieve their lunch!

Ramsey doffs his shirt and dives in after her.

Back on shore, the men are astounded that the two seem to have suddenly gone for an impromptu swim.

Unfortunately, Hanson doesn't find her picnic hamper, but instead comes upon a Tyrannosaurus Rex!! She promptly faints underwater and has to be rescued.

The construction workers gather 'round as Ramsey shows off some of his first aid moves in the sand.

Next, he carries her off to the nearby shack, instructing Lukather to go under the surface and investigate.

Meanwhile, Engelberg arrives and is livid to find his adoptive son there riding on a bulldozer.

He gives him a brief whack (which you also may find yourself wanting to do as the movie wears on!) for slacking on his chores.

Hanson is having a rather difficult time convincing Ramsey that she saw a dinosaur under water. 

Then Engelberg (who also serves as the island manager for the governor) bursts in to complain about the blasting.

Engelberg and Ramsey demonstrate their mutual animosity...

...until Lukather (yum!) trots in and announces that, yes, two frozen dinosaurs were found under the water! Apparently, they were unearthed after the dynamite was ignited.

A different diver hooks cables to the beast, which a construction crane will hoist out of the drink.

Speaking of drink...

The prehistoric creatures are towed out from the depths.

Their carcasses are deposited on the beach as onlookers watch (from rear projection. Ha ha!) This film, as you probably could see thus far, has beautiful scenery and lovely cinematography. That's why it's so jarring when blurry footage is blown up and used for some of the "special" effects.

You can keep yer special effects. I like nature's own.

Young Roberts explains to Ramsey and Hanson that the second dinosaur is a Brontosaurus and that it would have been friendly.

He knows this because he'd sent in some cereal box tops and gotten a book on them! (I'm not making this up.)

This old drunk is tasked with watching over the unearthed creatures overnight. I wouldn't bother showing him except, sigh, he's shown next to my new boyfriend. LOL

Engelberg is rooting around in the vicinity and makes quite a discovery of his own.

There's also a frozen caveman (!) now on site.

He drags the carcass over to a secluded spot and covers it up with tropical grasses.

Back at his cantina, he enlists the aid of some shady buddies to get the caveman off the island and eventually make some money off its discovery.

Out in the dining area, Roberts has gathered a couple of his toys and is showing everyone how the dinos were when they were alive.

Using real Marx toys of the era, he shows them a confrontation that will ultimately prove to be real enough!

The man assigned to watch over the frozen dinosaurs is reading a comic book version of Rip Van Winkle.

Just like that, a tropical storm kicks up and lightning strikes the "dead" beasts! This natural version of defibrillation gets the dinosaurs up and at 'em!

At the cantina, all over the island actually, the power has gone out. Lukather is sexy even in silhouette. As derided as this movie has often been, I thought that there were occasional stylish touches, including this one from the German-born director.

The construction shack has been blown to smithereens, leading a group of people to the scene to see what's going on.

In the moonlight, Lukather notes that the dinosaurs are up on their feet again... and gone!

No one knows exactly what's become of the watchman.

Then Egelberg is discovered lurking around. He doesn't tell the others, but his caveman is also gone! He pretends instead that he's looking for little Roberts (who really is on the loose, too.)

Elsewhere on the island, a transport vehicle is coming down the path with no idea what's in store...

You wanna tell me that 14 year-old Steven Spielburg didn't see this movie at some point...?

This screaming extra seemed to be giving 100% in order to make it into the movie's trailer! (And you know what? She did!)

In the end, her part was cut short, though, I'm afraid.

Cut to a house not too far away. It's Hanson's parents' home, though dad is away on a trip. Her mother is inside watering plants. (Though electricity is out on the island, this house is on a generator.)

The caveman appears and spots some delicious-looking fruit on the table by a picture window.

With no concept of what glass is, he keeps trying to reach through it to get the fruit, which generates a tapping noise.

All slathered up in her nightly beauty routine, Hanson's mother comes to see what the racket is and is confronted with a prehistoric caveman in front of her home.

Neither one of them takes the confrontation well...

One is just as startled as the other! She goes careening out the door to her car and speeds off into the night.

He dives headlong into some nearby plant-life, affording us a glimpse of the prehistoric fleshtoned panties that every smart caveman was wearing under his pelt back in the day! 

Roberts has caught up with the brontosaurus. He loudly speaks to it as if it can understand him. (In fact, most of his lines are semi-shouted - annoyingly - during the course of the film.

This two shot of them actually features a little puppet/model of the actor.

Ramsey, fearing a cataclysm, arranges for all the inhabitants of the island to make their way to an old castle atop a hill. Meanwhile, he and a worker of his load up some molotav cocktails to use if they come upon one of the dinos.

With the scary cold-cream lady gone, the caveman finds himself in her house and begins to locate various tools which can also serve as weapons.

When he finally makes his way over to the fruit bowl, he's horrified to find out that they are made of ceramic!

Next up, we get a Harpo Marx (or Lucille Ball, if you prefer) mirror routine!

As many people as possible are heading for this ancient castle on the edge of the island.

Lukather, now joined with this cantina waitress ("We hate her") is planning to widen an old moat that was around the castle and fill it with gasoline in order to protects all the islanders.

Captain Caveman is discovering all sorts of crazy back at the house. He experiences mattresses...

He's checking out framed portraits and figuring out what that is in the mirror. Note the colorful pinafore in the closet...

We even get a brief fashion show! (I actually found this whole section pretty charming and mildly amusing.)

An exhausted Roberts arrives and is almost attacked as he snatches a (real) banana from the fridge.

But he proceeds to make friends with the caveman and starts getting food out for him. (The home is on a generator, so why is the refrigerator light out?!)

He attempts to tutor his Cro-Magnon companion in the ways of eating with a fork and sitting properly in a chair.

This little party is broken up by the arrival of Engelberg and his two cronies. I wouldn't dare spoil how the caveman manages to thwart his attempted captor and gets away.

Later, finding the house in a state of semi-shambles, Hanson isn't sure what's become of her mother.

Fortunately, Lukather is able to contact Ramsey via these teensy walkie-talkies and inform him that Hanson's mom is actually up at the castle, safe and sound. (No word as to whether she wiped off that cold cream and removed the curlers and Frownies!)

The caveman has managed to hitch a ride for himself and Roberts atop the brontosaurus! (These are models.)

Things are going reasonably well until...

The T-Rex shows up and a fight begins. Everyone is dispersed.

As the caveman is watching the dinosaur battle, Hanson comes running over, looking for Roberts.

She trips and does a face-plant, whereupon the T-Rex grabs her (or, in this case, her model) and starts to take her away!

The caveman manages to free her and carries her off until he comes to an old, abandoned mine

This sort of cave feels just like home! He has a fire, a skinned rabbit and now an unconscious female sprawled beside him.

Hanson isn't about to cave into his sexual notions, so she has to do some tiptoeing around in order to save herself for Ramsey.

Ultimately, (and, again, I'm not making this up) she sings a lullaby and causes him to fall asleep!

Rexy is having none of it, though. He starts gnawing and clawing at the mine entrance.

Ramsey finally tosses him a hot toddy, which leads him away long enough to get Hanson out of there (though not without some added difficulty.)

As the climax nears, Ramsey and Lukather prepare for a visit from the T-Rex.

Lookouts are stationed around.

I love this snug little shot of our heroes.

Rexy does not disappoint and eventually shows up.

And, despite the fiery moat, it's monster versus machinery!

In a hilarious coda, a passing cruise ship wonders if the island always puts on this big a show (the fire, people waving their arms) for visitors...!

I must tell you that, regardless of its limited budget, its trite, pat script and any other limitation you wish to apply to it, I truly got a kick out of this hooty film. I loved the photography, found several of the set pieces captivating and, needless to repeat - but I will - fell heels over head in love with the second male lead. A gorgeous version of Dinosaurus! can be seen here.

Brought to you by the same man who directed The Blob (1958), it's campy and chintzy, yet strangely attractive to look at with its St. Croix location scenery.

Ramsey was car salesman whose tall, sturdy looks led to work in TV commercials. He landed a contract at Universal and when Steve McQueen (who'd starred in the director's prior film The Blob) was not cast, Ramsey found himself starring in this movie. (Depending on the source, McQueen refused this film or the makers were annoyed by his attitude during The Blob and didn't want him.) From this point, Ramsey generally worked more as a supporting or bit player in other people's movies. In that capacity, he appeared in everything from Tammy Tell Me True to Flower Drum Song and Lover Come Back (all 1961) to Cape Fear (1962.) By the end of the '60s, he was out of the biz and passed away in 1984 at age sixty of undisclosed causes.

The first time I watched this, Hanson sort of annoyed me and I thought she wasn't very good. But then, especially towards the end, I felt that she'd come through better. Nonetheless, her screen career was quite limited. Prior to this, she only had two credited TV guest roles and afterwards had no further credited work until popping up belatedly in 1979's Over the Edge. She'd earned a shot at screen work thanks to a beauty queen title (Miss Tarzana), but ultimately opted to work as a schoolteacher. I wasn't able to determine if she is still with us today. 

Roberts was one of the more experienced members of the cast despite his being 12 years old! He'd worked as a guest on nearly a dozen TV shows and had bit parts in movies as well, including Last Train from Gun Hill (1959) and Ice Palace (1960.) His career as an actor was already nearing an end with this movie, however. He only worked on screen a few more times, the last being a bit role on Rawhide in 1965. He eventually worked as a truck driver and became an adept guitarist as well. He died in 2008 at only age 59.

The "heavy" of this film, Engelberg had worked on a few low-budget movies such as The Lost Missile (1958) and The Beat Generation (1959), but Dinosaurus! proved to be his last. He ultimately managed a motel for a living. Unlike several of his costars here, he did live until his 80s. He died in 2012 at age 83 of undisclosed causes. 

The unfrozen caveman lawyer was played by a long-term movie bit player by the name of Gregg Martell, a burly WWII veteran. From 1947 when he played a guard in Kiss of Death until 1970 when he played a blacksmith in a TV called The Young Country, Martell was busy as a bee. He played countless soldiers, cops, henchmen, delivery drivers and so on. This film provided a rare opportunity for him to actually deliver a performance, albeit under some significant makeup. Martell lived to be 87, passing away of Parkinson's disease in 2005.

For his unusual shot at a featured role, Martell had to endure extended time in the makeup chair. His (very) hairy chest was shown off copiously throughout the movie.

A huskily handsome man, he looked like what might happen if Steve Cochran and Ernest Borgnine had a child together!

Despite the innate campiness of this film, I thought Martell did very well in the part, conveying humor, fear, curiosity and even heroism. He was better than Trog (1970) in any case!

Yes, I saved the best for last. I didn't want to put Lukather third where he truly belongs. As a handsome young man and a graduate of Yale Drama School, he began working on TV and in movies during the mid-1950s. (His father was a very busy assistant director of movies, including Scott Brady's Mohawk, 1956, in which Lukather appeared. Paul's younger brother also became an active assistant director.) He appeared on western shows like Have Gun, Will Travel and The Restless Gun while also doing crime series such as Mike Hammer and M Squad. Prior to Dinosaurus!, he'd appeared on the popular programs Lawman, Cheyenne, Rawhide and others. Many more roles, often bit parts, were to follow like Alvarez Kelly (1966) and The Way West (1967) though he did star in Hands of a Stranger (1962.) Beginning in 1969, he spent three years on the daytime soap Bright Promise. He continued to act on screen on many hit TV series through the mid-'80s, but began to work in voice-acting around that time. Soon he emerged as a sought-after provider of voices for animated programs and video games, which lent him an all new career. Devoted to his wife since 1957, Elizabeth, he also worked intently with charities for the disabled. (His wife had been a survivor of polio and was left partly handicapped as a result.) He died in 2014 at age 88 of undisclosed causes.

Earlier in this post, there were some examples of Lukather's handsome, beefcakey self in this movie. You didn't really think I was going to limit it to just those few shots, do you? I held back a few additional moments so that our sundae today could have a cherry on top.

Here we see Ramsey and Lukather presenting Luci Blain, who played the cantina waitress in Dinosaurus! She only made one further movie (Five Bold Women, 1960) before disappearing from the cinematic canvas.

And a special thanks to the costumer for selecting a shirt that barely fit and which did even less so as filming proceeded!

Here is some more of the deliriously humpy Lukather as he first spots Hanson in her boat, approaching the detonation site.

This promotional still shows a lower half that was cropped out by the movie camera during the scene in question.

Those lips, those eyes...

This was my favorite expression of his in the entire movie.

Remember this moment? I know I do. LOL I only showed a quick side-view above, but now I give you a better look.

A (badly) tinted lobby still reveled more leg than is ever seen in the movie.

Uh... There needed to more of this! So far as I can tell, this is the most body-revealing role that Lukather ever did and boy am I glad he did it. Apologies for my mouth-foaming, rabid reaction to the situation. But I get elated over "new" discoveries. Till next time!


Dan said...

You got a “lick” out of this film? Freudian slip, anyone?
I may have seen this one Saturday afternoon decades ago, there were so many dino flicks back then, they sort of blend together in my memory.
We’re familiar with Mr Lukather from his several appearances on Perry Mason, usually playing a shady, gigolo type. Boy, can he sneer AND leer.
Your description of Martell is spot on, he does indeed look like a mashup of Cochran and Borgnine. Must say, given a choice of the available beefcake in this flick, I’d probably go for him. Must be that beefy, blue collar vibe.
This looks like a good one to watch next time I get on my stepper.

Poseidon3 said...

Dan, HAHAHAHA! I almost left that in there, it was so funny (and so Freudian... and so true!) I was hoping that Martell would appeal to someone, so I added in some extra shirtless shots of him too, along with my new boyfriend. LOL Thanks!

Gingerguy said...

I would totally watch this, and probably would have loved it as a kid. I think I prefer Patty Duke to Harpo/Lucille, that part with the mirrors and the frumpy housedress looks hilarious. Good catch on the frownies, I just registered the cold cream. Your photos of this are a riot. Yes he's super cute but I probably would have settled for the caveman if I was stuck on an island.

Dan said...

Well, just watched this (while on my stepper) and realized my 4 or 5 year old self DID see this. The scene that clicked was the T-Rex crushing the bus. That bit terrified me because we lived in Hawaii and that jungle looked so much like our neighborhood.
Speaking of love children, Shady Buddy #1, the tall one in blue, looks like the spawn of Michael J Pollard and Randy Quaid, with a touch of Buddy Ebsen.
Too bad they couldn’t toss in a scene of our leading hunks wrestling to see who gets the lady fair - and, perhaps, deciding who needs a lady after all?
Yeah, Martell is still the one for me. Looks like just the thing to warm up a cold winter night.

the art deco sculpture in the first photo said...

just for general knowledge - the "Harpo Marx mirror routine" was also used in max lindner's 1921 'seven years bad luck'.

hsc said...

A couple of months back, I spotted that (badly tinted) tinted lobby still posted to another forum I visit, and immediately wondered how long it would take for DINOSAURUS! to get a rundown here! And you definitely delivered!

Yeah, Paul Lukather is incredibly hot, and Ward Ramsey is no slouch, either-- heck, even Greg Martell has a hot hairy torso if you can just overlook that caveman makeup! And the film itself is goofy fun if you're in the right mood for that sort of thing.

BTW, the poster with the "Not Suitable for Children" blurb is likely from an Australian release of the film. There are copies of the same poster from the U.S. release without that blurb, and that designation was apparently used Down Under at one point.

(It must've been so common a designation that there's a 2012 Aussie "rom-com" with that title-- with hottie Ryan Kwanten as a guy who's diagnosed with testicular cancer and has to build up a supply of frozen deposits in a sperm bank, since he wants to be able to father children. Since this is somehow a *comedy*, presumably there's a lot of funny masturbation scenes?)

One other thing-- Lukather's later film HANDS OF A STRANGER (1962) is yet another adaptation of a frequently-filmed 1920 French novel, THE HANDS OF ORLAC, in which a surgeon transplants the hands of a killer onto a concert pianist whose hands are destroyed-- and the hands want to keep killing.

This version used to show up on late-night "Shock Theater"-type shows, sometimes retitled HANDS OF A *STRANGLER*. There's no skin on display, but Lukather gets lots of smoldering closeups as the surgeon, and he and the younger, equally handsome James Stapleton have a lot of intense exchanges that have that sort of "edge" so that they play "better" with the sound off! (IMDb says Stapleton later changed his name to James Noah and continued acting for decades.)

It's fairly easy to find copies on YouTube if anyone's interested-- and Sally Kellerman even shows up in an early bit part, along with '50s bombshell Irish "Sheena of the Jungle" McCalla!

Thanks for yet another fun read, Poseidon, and for all you do! Love to all, and be safe and well, everyone!

Poseidon3 said...

Gingerguy, LOL about Patty Duke! I wish I'd have thought of Frownies for myself... about 20 years ago! Ha ha!

Dan, if that jungle resembled your real-life childhood neighborhood then I have to hand it to the non-Harryhausen/non-Pal effects people on this movie because all of that section was done with models/miniatures and the poor guys had their timeline SLASHED while working on this movie. So kudos to them for providing a level of verisimilitude. HILARIOUS about the bad guy and his "lineage!" I'm glad that I put plenty of Gregg Martell in here so that people who clearly prefer him could get an eyeful.

hsc, I guess I'm getting predictable! HA! Speaking of... I watched "Hands of a Stranger" about an hour before you commented here!! I just HAD to see it asap after finishing this post. It was filmed the same year but wasn't released until 1962. So odd that he was cast as an esteemed doctor at age 30 - they added fake grey to his temples to seal the deal! LOL My GOD his eyes were so dreamy in all those closeups. And his voice is so soothing. You're dead right about the "different" sort of glances and exchanges he has with his patient (who was to me a dead ringer for Hurd Hatfield! Or, if I'm being honest, also a lot like "Jean Arliss'" Warren in "Homicidal!! HA HA HA!) I thought Sally looked great in her brief part. Better than she did in "Reform School Girl." Thank you!