In Africa, paleontology understudy Susan (Sean Young) and her husband George (William Katt) discover that the local legend of the Mokèlé-mbèmbé is in fact a family of living brontosauruses - a father, mother and a hatchling. In doing so, George and Susan accidentally lead mercenary scientist Eric (Patrick McGoohan) and his hired team of soldiers, who kill the father brontosaurus and capture the mother, leaving George and Susan the sole caregivers of the infant, whom they nickname "Baby". They fight to protect Baby from the dinosaur hunters and rescue Baby's mother.
A 1985 live-action Disney film released under its Touchstone label, unlike other dinosaur films of the time that relied on Stop Motion for its visual effects, Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend, opted instead for a combination of life-sized animatronics and puppets worn by people to provide the walking motions; the film was Darker and Edgier than most of Disney's fare at the time, but still insisted on moments of cuteness involving Baby. As a result, the film mostly failed to find an audience and is typically dismissed by critics. However, it is fondly remembered by most of the people who saw it as children in the 1980s.
Compare to The Last Dinosaur, another earlier dinosaur film that used similar effects.
Secret of the Lost Tropes:
- Big Damn Heroes: The natives. Twice.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Nigel really didn't deserve to get killed. At least it looked funny seeing him electrocuted.
- Even Evil Has Standards: For all his villainy, Eric has some moments:
- He is disgusted with the soldiers who shot and killed the father bronto.
- He murders Colonel Nsogbu for constantly overdosing Baby's mother on tranquilizers. It's then quickly subverted when he frames George and Susan for the murder.
- Family-Unfriendly Death - Notably Eric, who is snatched into the jaws of the mother Bronto and shaken around
- Family-Unfriendly Violence
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Despite its PG-rating:
- A sequence at the beginning flashes a native's breasts onscreen.
- There are a couple of scenes in which Susan and George attempt to have sex but keep getting interrupted, it's clear the second time that they did it.
- Intrepid Reporter: Inverted with George, and then played straight. Initially he's interested only in African baseball stories and not wanting to go searching for dinosaurs, once they actually find them he is as starry-eyed as his wife.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: George.
- Living Dinosaurs: The last three sauropods.
- Mama Bear: The mother bronto, of course. Eric learns this the hard way by the end.
- Mook Lieutenant: Sergeant Gambwe to Colonel Nsogbu. Then to Eric after Nsogbu pushes Eric's buttons one time too many.
- More Dakka: How the father brontosaurus dies.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Eric has one of these moments after Baby is seemingly killed. Not that it saves him from Mom's wrath of course.
- National Geographic Nudity: Used in several shots with women of the natives and during the carnival in the opening.
- People in Rubber Suits: For Baby's special effects they used a rubber suit which would be worn by a person, allowing them to walk on fours. The eyes, mouth, neck and tail's movement would be remote controlled by the crew.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When the mother brontosaurus is freed at the end of the movie, she rampages something fierce.
- Stock Dinosaurs: Brontosaurus.