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Film / Planet of the Dinosaurs

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Planet of the Dinosaurs is a 1978 science fiction film. Set in an unspecified future, the film follows the journey of Captain Lee and his crew after they crash land on an earthlike planet, but millions of years behind in time. Encountering a wide variety of dangerous dinosaurs, the crew decides that its best chance for survival lies on finding higher ground and setting up a defensive perimeter on a higher plateau until their rescuers arrive. They soon encounter a deadly Tyrannosaurus rex and must figure out a way to defeat the creature and survive on the planet.

The film was a low budget endeavor with no major stars; actors James Whitworth and Max Thayer have the most film experience amongst the actors. Director James K. Shea instructed most of the budget to be spent on the special effects for the film, which included an array of award-winning stop motion dinosaurs, leaving little money for props or even to pay the main actors, all of whom seem to have been chosen based on how sexy they look in tights. Modern reviews have generally been negative, although there is agreement that the stop motion dinosaurs were the most notable and enjoyable aspect of the film.


Was made into a RiffTrax in 2009. Not to be confused with the 1992 Italian documentary of the same name.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alien Lunch: "I was just wondering how many other things we're going to have to get used to. Things like eating dinosaurs."
  • Asshole Victim: Harvey Baylor gets a burial after he dies, but the rest of the cast don't spend any time mourning him (and neither does the audience).
  • Babies Ever After: Chuck and Charlotte have a son together after being among the survivors of the crash for so many years.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Chuck and Charlotte's son is named Mikey, after their dead friend Michael.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: It's an entire planet full of them, so... yeah.
  • Fanservice: Cindy... who is immediately killed off, to the dismay of the riffers. And then there's Chuck.
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  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The brief glimpse of the Tylosaurus that eats Cindy. Also if you pause and look closely at the half-eaten carcass that the crew discovers their second day on the planet, you can vaguely make out that it's a Triceratops.
  • Giant Spider: The movie's most horrifying scene.
  • Hate Sink: Every second that he is on-screen up until his undignified death, Harvey Baylor is a complete whiny asshole that does even less to help the group than the others (who at least can be blamed for their dumb decisions because... well... the plot says so), tries to sexually harass his secretary and threatens to fire the other members of the crew (because he's their boss) which is something nobody cares about in light of the circumstances.
  • Human Aliens: Or rather, Dinosaur Aliens. Lee theorizes that as the planet they've landed on has the exact same environment as earth, the native life forms have undergone a convergent evolution with the planet currently in its version of the Mesozoic Era.
  • Immune to Bullets: While much importance is placed on the lasers, and how they can kill almost anything, the dinosaurs of this planet simply No-Sell the blasts and/or just get really annoyed when shot with one.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Harvey, courtesy of an angry Centrosaurus who was peeved that lasers were being shot at her when she was simply defending her nest.
    Mike Nelson: Still. He suffered less than anyone who ever watched the ABC show Dinosaurs.
    • The Tyrannosaurus falls victim to this in the end, impaling itself onto a planted set of stakes while trying to get at the fleeing humans.
  • Informed Species: None of the dinosaurs are referred to by their scientific name in the movie, albeit nowadays it wouldn't be that hard to identify most of them due to them being Stock Dinosaurs. The only one that is still up for debate among viewers is the ceratopsian that attacks and kills Harvey, which multiple sources claim is a Centrosaurus.
  • Jerkass: Harvey. Fortunately he's not in the movie for too long considering that he dies at the hands of a Centrosaurus after trying to steal its eggs.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After spending the first half of the movie being a total sleazy Jerkass Harvey finally gets his comeuppance when he's skewered by a ceratopsian's horn after trying to steal its eggs.
  • Latex Space Suit: Providing constant Fanservice even in the walking scenes.
  • Mama Bear: A female ceratopsian attacks and kills Harvey when he tries to steal her eggs.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Beefcake Chuck's sole reason for existing. The filmmakers find an excuse to have him strip within the first few minutes and then remains shirtless for the rest of the film.
  • Only Sane Man: Lee & Jim at different points in the film. Lee, initially, as seeking high ground and shelter would be a smart alternative to fighting alien life forms you know next to nothing about. Once one of those life forms takes a liking to human flesh and begins relentlessly stalking you, however, all bets are off, which is Jim's prerogative in the latter half of the film.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Cindy.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: Centrosaurus and Polacanthus appear in the film. Pushing the trope even further, the former is closer in appearance to a Spinops, whose remains were discovered but hadn't been scientifically described yet.
  • Shout-Out: One of the dinosaurs that Captain Lee encounters near the end of the film when he is trying to get the T-Rex's attention is based on the Rhedosaurus, the fictional dinosaur from The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. Ray Harryhausen visited the studio during production and gave his consent for the creature's cameo appearance. This was made fun of in the RiffTrax:
    Mike Nelson: (as Rhedosaur is getting killed) Tell...Ray Harryhausen....I love him....
    Kevin Murphy: Oh. The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms went out like a punk.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: The film features Tyrannosaurus, Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, and Ornithomimus. Apparently averted with the mother ceratopsian; depending on your source, either she's a Centrosaurus or people are still debating what species she is.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Cindy gets chomped by a barely-seen lake monster within ten seconds of diving into the water.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: Baylor's secretary finally has had enough of his utter uselessness and imbecilic attitude and hands him a rock on which she'd scribbled "I QUIT" about halfway through the film. Baylor cements how much of an idiot he is even further by actually asking "what's this?" after she gives him several seconds to read the message before putting it in his hands and walking away.
  • There's No Kill Like Overkill: Jim's plan to finally take out the tyrannosaur involves tricking it into impaling itself with giant spikes. Just in case the resulting massive trauma from that won't get the job done, said stakes have been coated with poison berry juice. Either way, it works.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Pretty much everyone... Baylor takes the cake, though, by disturbing a Centrosaurus' nest (he thinks it was that of a giant chicken) to poach her eggs.
  • Undignified Death: Compared to everyone else, Harvey's death is the most humiliating. While running for his life after stealing an egg, meaning his death was entirely his own fault, the Centrosaurus mother chases after and then stabs him through the chest with her horn and comically flails her head to swing his body off. Invertedly, he's the only character to not suffer the Forgotten Fallen Friend trope, being given a decent burial and final respects from the rest of the crew.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Harvey seems completely oblivious that he's trapped on a primitive alien world and often tries to use his former position as a company president to get the others to do things for him.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Chuck. He spends more than 90% of his appearance without a shirt.