The Sunday Intertitle: Death Match 1,000,000 BC

Hilariously delicate design for this intertitle from the Super-8 release of DINOSAURUS, a title I always pronounce to rhyme with “rhinoceros.” Try it, it’ll make you smile!

Why do I own a video copy of the Super-8 version of DINOSAURUS (remember, emphasis on the NOS)? Or any version at all? I don’t know. Why does a T-Rex have such tiny arms?

I have mixed feelings about this movie’s mixed-up special effects. It alternates between stop-motion animation and puppetry. This makes a kind of sense, arguably, with the two techniques being used whenever one or the other is easier or cheaper or more effective. You can rig a glove puppet or rod puppet to drool, for instance, whereas animating the lizard spittle would be a long and thankless task (well, *I’d* thank you, but you probably didn’t get into this business for my gratitude alone). Even the great Ray Harryhausen did a version of this alternation, in CLASH OF THE TITANS, where the character of Calibos is played by Neil McCarthy in close-up, because actors are better at face acting, and by an animated figurine in wide shot, because those guys are way better at having goat legs. (Goat legs and Frank Tuttle are the unconscious theme of the blog this week –see how many occurrences YOU can spot).

CLASH OF THE TITANS is very much like THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE, only with hircine extremities.

But switching FX techniques in mid-roar can be distracting. If the object of the exercise is to fool us (“Trick photography” was my parent’s set answer for any whiny Land of the Giants-inspired “How did they do that?” inquisitions) then we’re not fooled anyway. If the object is to be artistic, animation is the way to go. Puppetry, of course, can be a wonderful art, but I can’t think of many monsters done that way who didn’t feel tacky compared to the magestic creatures (not monsters, mustn’t call them that) of Ray H.

5 Responses to “The Sunday Intertitle: Death Match 1,000,000 BC”

  1. I remember how surprised I was to learn the Rancor monster was a puppet. It looked so much like animation because they’d slowed down the film. Again, drool.

  2. DBenson Says:

    I still have my silent 8mm collection from childhood: 25-ft bits of Popeye and Betty Boop (meant for toy projectors, but I spliced them into a single 150-ft reel), Loony Tunes in B&W with subtitles, some Disney shorts and animated feature cutdowns in genuinely impressive Technicolor, and one-reel versions of the car chases from a couple of W.C. Fields films. But the gems of my hoard were Blackhawk Films two-reelers of L&H, Chaplin and Keaton. My usually captive audiences tolerated the random music (LPs stacked on the record-changing turntable) and familiar titles, which were mitigated by films from the public library. One night my family patiently watched “Lilac Time”, presented in ten-minute reels and accompanied by, among other things, college fight songs.

    I assisted an entrepreneurial classmate who did light shows for school dances (this was the very early 70s). I’d bring my 8mm projector and throw BugsBunny on a wall to complement the burnt slides and light wheel effects.

    This was heady stuff in pre-video days. My fantasy was to become rich, own a Bell & Howell 16mm Filmosound (the standard model at school), and run real movies in the backyard of my palatial estate to impress girls. The 16mm rental catalogs were full of wonders that rarely if ever showed up on TV.

    Instead, I embraced VHS and bought or recorded a modest library. Then I went hog wild on DVD, and now own most of the major silent comedians, assorted classics, the Rathbone-Bruce Sherlock Holmes movies, and enough B movies, shorts, cartoons and serials to run a few years of vintage Saturday matinees. My lust to acquire is finally sated — unless Warner Archive releases more shorts.

    Well, that was pointless. Nostalgic but pointless.

  3. My dad borrowed a Super-8 projector and some cartoons once, but then we had to wait for VHS. I waited years before I started owning more than a dozen tapes, then expanded rapidly as I needed examples for teaching. I still have too many tapes, and now that DVDs are dirt cheap in charity shops I’m buying way too many, plus getting sent comps from the Blu-Ray people… in danger of disappearing under a mountain of media.

  4. DBenson Says:

    Piles of CDs one feels morally obliged to keep because they’re on the iPod; books one has read and and are now trophies; books one hasn’t read but which one fully Intends To Get To (including items from required reading lists in college); a stack of LPs one vaguely intends to digitize; and obscurities in all media one feels personally responsible for preserving. It does add up.

  5. That’s the stuff alright! A purge is called for.

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