Wednesday, June 29, 2011


One of my fondest sci-fi TV memories from my childhood was an ABC television movie-of-the-week called The Last Dinosaur (1977). Now, thanks to the crew at Warner Archives, I've been able to revisit that experience on DVD.

An Antarctic oil survey financed by billionaire industrialist and big game hunter Masten Thrust (Richard Boone,) discovers a pocket of prehistoric flora and fauna in the crater of a dormant volcano, surrounded by mountains of ice and inaccessible by land. Using a drill-equipped vehicle called the "Polar Borer," Thrust personally leads a scientific expedition through the crust of the Earth itself into the time-lost land, accompanied by a plucky girl reporter (TV veteran Joan Van Ark), a Japanese scientist (Tetsu Nakamura), a geologist (Steven Keats, Hanger 18) and his African "hunting guide," Bunta (Luther Rackley). After a disastrous encounter with a vicious Tyrannosaurus Rex, the group finds themselves stranded in the prehistoric jungle and must find a way to survive its myriad perils, including a tribe of savage proto-humans and the ever-present threat of the hungry T-Rex.

The Last Dinosaur made its U.S. premiere on prime time network television, but this co-production between Rankin-Bass Productions (best known for their stop-motion holiday specials) and Japan's Tsuburaya Productions (creators of Ultraman), was released theatrically pretty much everywhere else in the world, and this new DVD from Warner Archives makes that extended theatrical version available in the U.S. for the first time.

Written by comic book veteran William Overgard, The Last Dinosaur is an entertaining lost world adventure with compelling characters, plenty of prehistoric thrills, and lots of dino-action. It's not particularly original, with elements borrowed from genre favorites like At The Earth's Core and The Land Unknown, but it hits all the right adventure beats, and even manages some decently-sketched characterizations and effective moments of drama.

Despite an awful toupee and ill-fitting dentures (I swear he adjusts them on screen more than once) Richard Boone is great as the egomaniacal Thrust, who, it seems, is the true "Last Dinosaur" of the title; an archetypical Alpha-male, unapologetic chauvinist and hunter, who despite his material wealth and success, seems out of step with modern society. As the token female, Joan Van Ark is attractive, tough and appealing.

The special effects are delightfully Old School, with wonderful man-in-suit dinosaurs, gorgeous matte paintings, and miniature sets/vehicles. They're not realistic or even remotely convincing, but they are damned charming and entertaining. My personal favorite effects sequence is the battle between the T-Rex and a Triceratops in a "dinosaur graveyard" surrounded by dino skeletons! I would be remiss if I neglected to mention the wonderfully corny theme song, a decidedly 70s-styled ballad by composer Maury Laws, sung by Nancy Wilson.

The Manufacture-On-Demand DVD from Warner Archive sports a very decent, 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and Dolby 2.0 Mono audio. The source print used - the extended International theatrical cut - is in reasonably good shape, with only minimal evidence of age-related wear. Picture quality is surprisingly good, except during some of the special effects process shots, but that's inherent in the old-school techniques used in the film and not any sort of deficiency in the transfer. There are no extras included.

The Last Dinosaur is a product of its time, and unlikely to impress those who demand the slick CGI and lightning pace of modern fantasy films. But, if you're looking for an old fashioned adventure tale, it's a terrific flick, along the lines of The Land That Time Forgot & The People That Time Forgot, and a lot of fun. Recommended.

You can buy it direct from Warner Archive or through Amazon:  The Last Dinosaur


  1. I remember watching this one...

  2. Wow, I'be been trying to remember the name of this film for decades. Thank you for solving that mystery! As a kid, the ads for it and the listing in TV Guide had me going nuts waiting for it to air. Richard (no relation) Boone's performance was the part I remembered the most. He really was more of a monster than the dinosaurs.

    It would be nice if Netflix would add this to their library as the price is wee bit steep for even a fond childhood memory.

  3. I loved this movie back in '77 and it premiered on a Friday night, which was perfect for the young target audience. Despite its obvious man-in-suit dinosaurs, the movie delivered everything that it promised. I remember seeing it again on TBS in the 80's and I still had fond memories of it. Yes, it comes off as low budget, but you can't beat Richard Boone's performance. It's so over-the-top that it's fun to watch -- especially with friends.

  4. I remember the "Last Dinosaur" title song was like a James Bond song of the '60s era.


  5. I was 4 when it first aired, and that night was the first I ever got to stay up late.

    I bought the DVD a few months ago, and it brought back a flood of memories.

  6. i just found out about this movie through amazon..i really like your site..i enjoy all of the shows and movies you have on here..some i havent seen as of glad also finally these shows and movies are being released on dvd..keep up the awesome work :) Tony

  7. Only Masten Thrust could have a fireplace on a jet. I also remember having to go out for dinner the night this was supposed to air, and begging my father to leave the restaurant sooner than expected and rush home just so I could see this. It's interesting when you're a kid, how exciting this stuff seemed at the time, and how laughable it's become as an adult. Needless to say, when this came out on VHS, I bought it.

    I know this guy Daren who wanted to hold hands with Bunta through the woods to protect him from the dinosaurs. Oddly enough, he ended up finding a life partner much like Bunta.


  8. Like Steve, I also remember the Friday night it premiered. It's a nice piece of childhood cheesiness. What's not to like? Dinosaurs in a lush forest at the South Pole and a mechanical mole. Pity made-for-TV movies and even movies on network TV are now a thing of the past.

  9. I remember watching this Movie , the only reason I got to was my Dad was a big Richard Boone Fan, from his old western days. My Dad hated anything SiFi, I remember him making comments all through the Movie, like Now you know there isn't anyway this could ever happen. My Dad was as much of a hoot as the Man in suit dinosaurs. Still it is a good memory , of the first time I ever got to watch a Science Fiction Movie with my Dad. My Dad pretty much dressed like Boone's character in the movie everyday right down to the boots which made it even funnier to watch with him. Old outdoorsman might not like this movie, but it is a memory worth owning to me.