09 May 2011

The Last Dinosaur

United States/Japan – 1977
Directors – Alexander Grasshoff, Tsugunobu Kotani
MNTEX Entertainment, 1990, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 30 minutes

As this last wheeze of a dying paradigm flickered blurily across my tiny CRT screen, I felt as if I were strapped into a hideous future indoctrination machine, being force-fed stale propaganda reels from a distant historical backwater. It was Brazil in my screening room and I grit my teeth through every tired nugget of delusion that was unsurreptitiously launched at my retinas. As if by sheer volume I might be convinced that things still were the way we wish they used to be.

This revisionist PSA opens with an immediate introduction to the protagonist well ensconced in his milieu. Masten Thrust, played by the visibly decaying body of Richard Boone, longs for the finger-snapping and eye-winking charisma he fancies himself to have had in those heady days before he slid into wearing his boiler-suit everyday instead of just weekends. Forced by the terrifying passage of time to reanimate the corpse of his youth, he struggles valiantly against terminal elderliness by emphasizing an extreme and cartoonish version of a wishful memory of virility. Somehow, by increasing to nearly toxic levels the concentration of noxious manliness he exudes, he can surely paper over 50 years of entropy.

After dismissing his latest female companion with an airline ticket to “wherever it is I found you”, he heads over to his press conference room to announce his plan to penetrate the arctic. It is there, while probing for oil in his cylindrical probe ship that his last expedition discovered a strange tropical island inhabited by a creature that appears (though at that distance we were unable to be certain) to be a man in a top-heavy Tyrubbersaurus rex suit. Our ironically named geriatric protagonist plans to travel back to this land that time forgot in his clearly labeled Thrusting cylinder craft and study/hunt what he believes is the infamous “last of the dinosaurs”.

Hey wait, there's two?
Harnessing the power of a fictional-future science The Last Dinosuar attempts, like the man upon whose weary frame it is hitched, to call forth a fond memory to conceal the lack of its substance. As if by packing together H.G. Wells/Edgar Rice Burroughs paleo-science-fiction and the keening howl of that Nipponese behemoth it could imbue itself with a ghost of cultural relevance. The irony of this snake-eating-its-tail premise was not lost on the person’s responsible for this grainy televisual delusion. With all the subtlety of a shotgun, the double entendre of the title is laid bare in the awe inspiring theme song “The Last Dinosaur”, performed by iconic jazz singer Nancy Wilson. Throughout the tune, the lyrics make no reference whatsoever to the obese thunder lizards, but explicitly describe the film’s geriatric cad protagonist.

In the end of course, there is no evading the vicious hands of time, and realization finally catches up to the spent Thrust. When his surviving companions decide to return home, he opts to stay in the past where he belongs, with his teeny-armed philosophical brother and let the paleo-time-travel genre finally fade into a fond memory.


Mark Ayala said...

I'm not feeling the phallic placement of the drill in the last poster.

The Goodkind said...

Try a kneeling position that generally helps.

M Pereira and Michael Fierce said...

I think the T-Rex in the last poster should be saying 'Hot Dog!' - then it would be perfect.