Richard: Yeah, we did it... we brought civilization to Planet Nova.
King Dinosaur is a 1955 Science Fiction B-Movie produced and directed by quickie king Bert I. Gordon for Lippert Pictures (known for Rocketship X-M, Lost Continent and Jungle Goddess). The film was shot over seven days in Bronson Canyon, Griffith Park and the Benedict Canyon area. The story is predicated on the notion that a new solar system has set up shop "a half-year's rocket flight away" from our own. A group of intrepid scientists turned space travelers — zoogeographer Richard Gordon (Douglas Henderson), mineralogist Nora Pierce (Patti Gallagher), physician Ralph Martin (Bill Bryant) and chemist Patricia Bennett (Wanda Curtis) — blast off (via stock footage of Germany's V-2 rocket) to explore the earth's new neighbors.
Upon landing on one of the planets (actually the mountains surrounding Los Angeles) the scientists confront all manner of outsized reptiles (courtesy of clips from One Million B.C.). When the planet's "dinosaurs" threaten our heroes, the huge lizards are dissipated by an atomic-bomb blast (more library footage). Having made the planet safe for colonization (?), the space travelers return to Earth.
- All Planets Are Earth-Like: The only apparent difference is the bacteria.
- Artistic License – Biology: The "giant bee" is actually an Orthoptera, probably a Jerusalem cricket.
- Artistic License – Paleontology: Dick notes that the giant iguana is identical to the tyrannosaurus rex. Um... no?note
- Bee Afraid: Especially giant, superimposed bees.
- Chekhov's Gun: The atomic battery. Its description in the introductory stock footage (including conspicuous mention of its explosive potential) all but screams at the audience "Remember This For Later!"
- Clothing Damage: Both Ralph and Nora get some of this in separate animal attacks; but Dick tops everyone when he has to tear his entire shirt off to make a tourniquet.
- Deus ex Nukina: The atomic battery is used as a bomb in order to escape the giant lizards in the climax (see page quote).
- Hard-Work Montage: Ralph and Pat testing the atmosphere of Planet Nova.
- It's All My Fault: Ralph's near death-by-gator comes as a side result of his and Pat's sneaking off to snog in the night. Pat is so distraught by this that she is unable to help patch him up afterward.
- Jerkass: Dick spends a lot of time pushing the women around — literally. The 'bots call him out for this.
- Lizards Blowing Up
- Mighty Whitey: It's a The '50s sci-fi B-Movie, so it's fairly inevitable.
- Neutral Female: Invoked and enforced by Dick; when the ladies volunteer to share night watch duties, he quickly shoots the idea down.
- No Animals Were Harmed: Very clearly averted, particularly in the "iguana vs. alligator" fight.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Not so much for their respective scientific fields per se (although the zoologist does a good job doctoring up the doctor), but rather the mission as a whole; note the rocket's complete and total lack of astronauts.
- Pseudo-Crisis: Several:
- Ralph is attacked early on by an alligator and injured badly; however, he's pretty much fully recovered within a few scenes (two days' time, in-story). After that, his weakened state becomes essentially an Informed Flaw.
- The giant bee; they simply shoot it dead, although it did take a lot of shots.
- At one point, a snake slides and shimmies across a sleeping Ralph's body while Dick looks on helplessly. After a minute, the snake gets bored and departs of its own volition.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: And not just the giant ones; Pat very nearly has a complete meltdown when a snake gets fresh. note
- Screaming Woman: For cryin' out loud, Pat!
- Shirtless Scene: Dick needed to wrap a wound.
- Stock Footage:
- Not unlike The Deadly Mantis (which would feature in MST3K some years later), King Dinosaur opens with about ten minutes of stock footage. Unlike the latter, however, here the stock footage is actually relevant to the story at hand — it details construction of the rocket that will take the scientists to Planet Nova. The opening also includes a callout to the atomic battery and its explosive potential.
- The giant bee is clearly taken from another film, seeing as it never appears in the same shot as the characters.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: In order to outrun a giant iguana, the scientists... plant an atom bomb. Makes sense.
- Title Drop: When comparing the giant iguana to Tyrannosaurus Rex, Dick appends the appellation "King Dinosaur!"
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: One of the scientists cheerfully says that she doubts they'll see any race of super beings — just after they'd been attacked by a bee the size of a car. Face Palm.