Dinosaur Island (1994) Dinosaur Island (1994) -*

     More direct-to-video putrescence that might prove mildly amusing if you were really bored or really wasted, Dinosaur Island is like what might have happened had the makers of Hardbodies attempted to remake The Lost World. It concerns a trio of mutinous soldiers— called Skeemer (Richard Gabai, of Nightmare Sisters and Bikini Drive-In), Wayne (Tom Shell, from Hard Rock Nightmare and Surf Nazis Must Die), and Turbo (Sorority House Massacre II’s Peter Spellos, later one of the busiest men in the anime-dubbing business)— who are on the plane to their court martial for charges that amount to them being general fuck-ups who have no business doing any job that requires them to carry firearms, along with the captain (Ross Hagen, from Night Creature and Wonder Women) and sergeant (Steve Barkett, of Dark Universe and The Aftermath) charged with escorting them to their fate. On the way, the plane crashes into the sea near the titular uncharted island.

     True to its name, the place is inhabited by truly pathetic stop-motion dinosaurs. And because we’re talking direct-to-video, it is also inhabited by big-breasted girls in furry bikinis. In fact, as the opening credits roll, before we are even introduced to the soldiers, some of those bikini-clad girls— and one whose costume consists more or less entirely of blue paint— are preparing to sacrifice one of their number to the Great One. In case you haven’t watched enough movies this bad to be familiar with the formulas and to make the predictions that follow inexorably from them, the Great One is one of those shitty dinosaurs, a Tyrannosaurus rex, to be exact. He is also destined to be the bane of the soldiers’ existence, and simultaneously the only thing keeping them alive.

     You see, there are no men on Dinosaur Island for a reason. There are no men because (say it with me now) the female inhabitants of the island are a self-sufficient society of man-hating lesbians. Unfortunately for the girls, their own myths are quite explicit on the point that the Great One can be killed only by a man (to be recognized by certain features spelled out in prophecy), and that until that man arrives, they will have to conduct the sacrifice from the opening credits periodically to prevent the Great One from destroying them all. When the soldiers wash up on the island, some of the girls— subsequently dubbed April (Antonia Dorian, of Midnight Tease II and Vampirella), May (Griffin Drew, from Friend of the Family and Forbidden Games), and June (Michelle Bauer, of Witch Academy and Demonwarp)— get it into their heads that their prophesied savior is among them. And because one of them just happens to be a princess, they are able to persuade the queen (Toni Naples, from Prison Heat and Deathstalker II) not to order the soldiers beheaded or castrated or whatever, provided that they hunt, and ultimately kill, the Great One.

     The story advances in alternating steps. First, the soldiers will fight a dinosaur. Next, they will introduce one or more of the girls to the joys of heterosexuality. (I’m reminded of the line from Chasing Amy: “All lesbians need is some deep dicking.”) Every so often, this alternating pattern will be broken up by an interlude in which two or three girls take a bath in a pond or stream. Finally, a complication arises in that one of the soldiers’ new girlfriends is scheduled to be the Great One’s next payoff meal, and that the date set for her sacrifice is only a couple of days away. So the soldiers get all Ramboed up and head out into the bush, where they narrowly defeat the Great One with a little help from April, May, and June. The intended sacrifice is saved, the surviving soldiers have their status as mythological heroes confirmed, and they and the bikini babes of Dinosaur Island live happily, heterosexually ever after.

     Jesus Christ, this one stinks! Not that I’m surprised about that, mind you. We are, after all, dealing here with a movie on which Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski took turns in the director’s chair. The only thing I can think of that might be worse than a T&A monster movie directed by both Ray and Wynorski would be a T&A action flick co-directed by Albert Pyun and Andy Sidaris. True to Ray’s form, the film displays technical ambitions which the resources of the production and the abilities of the cast and crew were in no way adequate to meet. And true to Wynorski’s form, it exhibits both an eleven-year-old boy’s sense of humor and a counterproductive tendency to pay bizarre and out-of-place homage to the pop culture of the late 40’s and early 50’s. Dinosaur Island’s main weakness, though, is that surprisingly common pitfall of the direct-to-video movie, the paradoxical and highly unsatisfying combination of prurience and prudishness. Dinosaur Island, like practically every other movie in the interlocking sub-sub-sub-genres of direct-to-video softcore (sorftcore-horror, softcore-science-fiction, softcore-kung fu, etc.), is positively obsessed with sex, but takes such excessive caution not to cross the line into actual pornography that it ends up foregoing any serious attempt at titillation whatsoever-- for example, believe it or not, there is not a single shot of full, frontal nudity in this entire movie. In addition, movies of this sort have defined for themselves a very narrow target audience, one which (or so the filmmakers believe) finds exactly one type of woman attractive. Every single woman in Dinosaur Island looks exactly alike. All are tall, tanned, and athletic, with improbably huge silicone breasts and curly hair that extends to a point halfway down their shoulder-blades. And nearly all are blondes. Moreover, those few brunettes that do appear are all cast in the parts of characters whom we’re not supposed to like— the queen and her entourage, for example. Adherence to this formula results in a movie— indeed, an entire genre— that comes across as nothing more than a series of over-long beer commercials. Personally, I find the sameness of these movies makes it close to impossible to enjoy any of them, and I say this as a person with an abiding love of such highly formulaic genres as the 80’s slasher movie and the 50’s atomic bug film. Watch Dinosaur Island when you’re too drunk to have standards, or if you happen to find yourself at a frat party. Otherwise, it’s probably smarter not to watch it at all.



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