Jurassic World is setting world records for the biggest box office movie opening ever. One reviewer called it “big dumb fun.” No wonder audiences are flocking to the film like interns to free donuts. Good creature-features have always been a healthy cash cow for filmmakers. Before Chris Pratt took on the role of dinosaur whisperer, the silver screen had its share of unforgettable movies about the monsters from our lost world. Here are five films that are worth a look.
#5. Gertie the Dinosaur (1914). Maybe The Lost World (1925) was the first full-length big production of a SciFi dinosaur movie. But it wasn’t by a long shot the first big reptile on the silver screen. Animation pioneer Winsor McCay made this short in 1914. This is the great-grandfather of Hollywood’s fascination with the Mesozoic Era. This first deserves to be on the list of the very best.
#4. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953). No master monster-movie list would be complete if it didn’t include a film by the special effects genius Raymond Frederick “Ray” Harryhausen. Ray created his dinosaurs using animated stop-motion models. The strange “beast” released from the frozen Arctic that makes its way to Coney Island is one of his most marvelous creations. This film inspired countless other monster movies. This black and white movie is a not-to-be-missed classic.
#3 The Lost World (1960). This is by far the best of several adaptions of the Arthur Conan Doyle novel on the silver screen. True, the dinosaurs are super hokey. Basically, they are live lizards with horns and fins glued on. But really, who cares? What makes this movie is the great story and fine character acting as a group of intrepid explorers ascends a high jungle plateau and discovers a world filled with prehistoric cave men and carnivorous dinosaurs. Filmed in De Luxe Color and CinemaScope, for its time the film was an eye-popper for audiences.
#2 . Reptilicus (1961). No great dinosaur film list would be complete without listing the worst dinosaur movie–ever. The choices are endless, from the first Godzilla (1954) monster played by a man in a rubber suit to contemporary CGI creatures in really bad films like Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs (2015). But without question the best worst dinosaur is in this 1961 clunker, in which something that looks like a dragon terrorizes Denmark. As far as can be ascertained, this was Denmark’s first and only big dinosaur film. We can all say thanks for that. Still, it is so bad that it is fun to watch.
#1. Jurassic Park (1993). Pretty much everybody agrees this is the best film in the franchise series and perhaps the best dino-movie of recent times.