Tuesday, February 16, 2010

DINOSAUR VALLEY GIRLS

Author, musician and filmmaker Don Glut is probably best known for writing the bestselling novelization of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in 1980 - but he's also the author of a number of well-regarded adventure comics from the 1970s (Dagar, Doctor Spektor), paperback novels, popular nonfiction books about dinosaurs, and was known to readers of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine in the 60s as a prolific teenage amateur movie maker. In recent years, he's been writing and directing exploitation flicks for the home video market, and the movie that launched that phase of his career has just been re-released on DVD.

DINOSAUR VALLEY GIRLS (1996) is a campy, comedic fantasy about a washed-up action movie star (Jeff Rector, KRAA! THE SEA MONSTER) who is transported back in time to the titular valley, where he finds a tribe of gorgeous, scantily-clad cavegirls. These cavegirls have become disenchanted with the local cavemen's brutish, boorish behavior, and find their new visitor much more desirable. But with just one guy and a whole slew of inarticulate cavewomen, you know there can be only one outcome: catfight! Mix in a bizarre musical interlude and a variety of really cut-rate dinosaurs, and you end up with 94 minutes of lowbrow, late night entertainment.

DINOSAUR VALLEY GIRLS is not, by any stretch of the definition, a good movie. The pacing is off, the effects are uniformly awful, and the nubile, well-groomed cavewomen seem to all have breast implants. Still, if you're in an undemanding frame of mind, and just want to watch pretty girls run around topless and laugh at some really poor stop motion and puppet dinosaurs, there is some fun to be had. Reportedly shot on a budget of around $250,000, it's actually kind of amazing that it's in focus, really, and, since it is a comedy, I guess it doesn't much matter how it gets laughs, as long as it gets them.

The movie clearly has no aspirations beyond being a goofy B-movie. The cast includes exploitation veterans Karen Black (TRILOGY OF TERROR, BURNT OFFERINGS), sword & sandal star Ed Fury (URSUS IN THE LAND OF FIRE) and the late William Marshall (BLACULA himself!) in supporting roles, and was mostly shot around Vasquez Rocks and in Bronson Canyon.

Released twice previously on DVD, this new edition from Glut's Frontline Entertainment is a two-disc affair, which offers two cuts of the film on Disc 1. There's the "Director's Cut," with all the boobage on display, and the "Family" version, which is basically a TV version where all the Mesozoic mammaries stay discretely packed inside the girls' fur bikinis. The transfer is slightly letterboxed (it looks to be about 1.66:1) and does not appear to be anamorphically enhanced. Picture quality is a bit soft and grainy; I'm guessing this was shot on 16mm. It's certainly not something to use to show off your new HDTV, but it's certainly watchable enough. The "Director's Cut" version is accompanied by an optional audio commentary track by Glut.

Disc 2 contains a ton of extra features, including a "Making Of" documentary narrated by Marshall, deleted and alternate scenes, video of the actresses' auditions, the original trailer, a "Cave-to-English" dictionary, Glut's DINOSAUR TRACKS music videos for kids, still galleries and storyboards.

If you're already familiar with the movie and want to add it to your library, this new edition is a pretty good deal. It's loaded with extras and probably looks about as good as it ever has. If you haven't already seen it, your appreciation of the movie will basically depend on how much you like looking at topless girls, bad dinosaur effects - and your tolerance for cheesy humor.

BUY: Dinosaur Valley Girls