Director: Val Guest
Screenplay: Val Guest
Release: Warner Archive Collection
Something that is very clear in Hollywood history is that there is a back-and-forth between studios when it came to theme; nothing is sacred.
After Raquel Welch conquered the screen in One Million Years B.C., Hammer Studios followed up with When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, written and directed by Val Guest (The Quatermass Xperiment) and based on a story by J.G. Ballard (Crash). Victoria Vetri stars as Sanna, rescued from ritual sacrifice by Tara (Robin Hawdon), a member of a rival tribe. Her survival coincides with the mysterious formation of a new “fire” in the sky: the moon! Sanna’s old tribe blames her for this affront to the sun; Sanna flees their wrath and Tara follows. Their shared adventures loom as large as the giants who once ruled the earth!
Finding stop-motion dinosaur movies is not difficult. Finding stop-motion dinosaur movies better than this one is also not difficult. It is worth noting that When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth is an interesting and almost good movie. It is clear that Val Guest and J.G. Ballard had a vision for the film and the executed it rather well.
The glaring hole in the movie is its script, or its lack of a script. There is no English dialog in the film and everything is a series of grunts and made up words. This completely works with the vision and theme but it ended up disconnecting me from the film.
Okay, that was the bad. If you love the stop-motion dinosaur flicks you will definitely not be disappointed. The work of Jim Danforth, David W. Allen and Roger Dickens is fantastic. There is one scene that sticks out in my mind in which a dino is chasing a caveperson down a hill. You can see the splicing between images but it still looks great.
Seeing that splice is evidence of the strength of the film. The 1080p picture is glorious and when a restoration is so great you can see the physical flaws in a film. In some cases, this would be detrimental but being able to witness the lab work baked into the film adds a level of film-watching that you rarely think about. This is not a problem in my opinion. The problem is the acting, the gratuitous nudity, and the uninspired costumes.
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, like most films I watch, is an essential addition for a very specific audience, for the rest of you there are many better options and so my recommendation is limited to that limited audience. The blu-ray is available for order at WBShop.com!
Director: 7 – Cinematography: 7 – Edit: 5 – Parity: 3 – Main performance: 6 – Else performance: 2 – Score: 8 – Sound: 6 – Story: 6 – Script: 3 – Effects: 8 – Design: 6 – Costumes: 4 – Keeps interest: 7 – Lasting: 5