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List of 1960s Dinosaur Movies
By Robert Vaux
Source: Internet Movie Database
While the 1960s hardly constituted a high point for dinosaur movies--they had peaked decades earlier with "King Kong" and wouldn't hit a high point again until 1993's "Jurassic Park"--it still produced its share of memorable prehistoric creations. The 1960s represented the last hurrah for old-fashioned drive-in movies, when creature features and beach party quickies were still produced in large numbers. Dinosaur movies were uncommon because they needed high-end effects to work properly, but when they did, they became a source of unabashed popcorn fun.
"The Lost World"Dinosaur movies of the 1960s kicked off with director Irwin Allen's retake on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic "The Lost World." A silent version had appeared in 1925, featuring stop-motion dinosaurs created by the legendary Willis O'Brien. Allen made do by gluing horns and fins onto lizards. Such less-than-convincing effects weren't aided by cardboard characters and silly dialogue, which marred much of Allen's work.
"Gorgo"Great Britain improved upon Irwin Allen's standard in 1961 with "Gorgo," a retread of the Japanese Godzilla movies in which a giant reptile wreaks havoc throughout London in search of its missing young. Though not quite in the league of the best Godzilla movies, director Eugene Lourie brought a sense of B-movie fun to the endeavor, which featured people in rubber suits substituting for dinosaurs. Years later, the TV show "Mystery Science Theater 3000" featured "Gorgo" as one of its endless targets.
"Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet"A more dubious endeavor arose in 1965, when director Curtis Harrington re-edited footage from an earlier Soviet production to create "Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet." The plot concerns a manned mission to Venus, which discovers prehistoric reptiles portrayed alternately by mechanical creations and men in suits. Basil Rathbone starred in the English-language version, a long way from his iconic portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.
"One Million Years B.C."Things looked up again in the dinosaur movie department in 1966, when Hammer Film Productions produced a well-regarded remake of an earlier caveman epic. Though it remained as campy as many of the other dinosaur films of the era, it received a boost from some fun visual effects created by renowned stop-motion artist Ray Harryhausen. Bolstering the dinosaurs themselves was the presence of actress Raquel Welch, who started a sensation with her appearance in skimpy cavegirl furs. Considering the competition, "One Million Years B.C." ranks among the elite of prehistoric 1960s movies.
"The Valley of Gwangi"Ray Harryhausen returned to the genre in 1969, with a project long held dear to both him and his mentor Willis O'Brien. Directed by Jim O'Connolly, "The Valley of Gwangi" tells the story of Old West cowboys who come across a living allosaurus and put it on display in a circus. Though it fared poorly at the box office and has since lingered in obscurity, it remains a rousing adventure story and could give "One Million Years B.C." a run for its money as the best dinosaur movie of the decade.