Prehistoric Beast is a ten-minute long experimental animated film created by Phil Tippett and released in 1984. It is notable for being the first film by the Tippett Studio. Set in Mesozoic times, it tells the story of a Monoclonius as it is hunted by a Tyrannosaurus rex.
Made with the go motion animation technique, scenes from Prehistoric Beast were included in the 1985 full length documentary Dinosaur!, first aired on CBS in the United States on November 5, 1985. The film was originally released only for animation festivals, but can now be watched full online in Tippett's official YouTube channel. Available here.
It contains examples of the following tropes:
- Anachronism Stew: Tyrannosaurus and Monoclonius did not live at the same time in the Cretaceous period. One wonders why they couldn't have just used the iconic Triceratops instead as the lead ceratopsian. Unless the Tyrannosaurus is actually supposed to be a member of a closely related species like Albertosaurus.
- Animals Not to Scale: The Monoclonius in the film is around the size of the larger Triceratops.
- The Bad Guy Wins: After chasing and stalking the Monoclonius for a while, the T. rex is ultimately able to corner, kill and eat it successfully. However, the T. rex isn't truly evil; it just wants to feed and survive, like any other predators want to.
- Canada, Eh?: The story is set in Alberta, Canada, 65 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous.
- Curb Stomp Cushion: While the Tyrannosaurus wins the fight, the Monoclonius does inflict a stab wound on the carnivore's leg.
- Don't Go in the Woods: The Monoclonius wanders from its herd into the woods, and stumbles into the territory of the T. rex the deeper it goes.
- Downer Ending: The Monoclonius ends up killed and eaten by the T. rex.
- Double Meaning: The tagline on the poster reads "Long before there was Jurassic Park there was...". This ostensibly means that this happened before that, but one can also read it as how this work came out before JP.
- Eat the Camera: Twice, with the Tyrannosaurus. That second and last one cuts to black, as it's the killing blow.
- Gory Discretion Shot: When the T. rex delivers the fatal blow to the Monoclonius, the scene cuts to black and then to the Monoclonius calling for their missing (and now-deceased) member.
- Only a Flesh Wound: The Monoclonius drives its massive horn through the leg of the Tyrannosaurus. The predator is merely angered by the injury rather than bleeding to death.
- Scenery Porn: The Cretaceous landscape is truly gorgeous.
- Stock Footage: As mentioned above, stock footage of this film was shown in the documentary Dinosaur!, on which Tippett worked too. Other documentaries that stock footage of this film appears in include the dinosaur-related episodes of Really Wild Animals and Eyewitness. Given the subject matter, it has no doubt been featured in more documentaries.
- Stop Motion: The whole film is animated this way.
- Terrifying Tyrannosaur: The T. rex is a portrayed as a nightmarish predator that lives in the darkest parts of the forest, waiting for unsuspecting prey to venture into the dense woods, isolated from the rest of the herd.