Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds (1977)

Before I get to my review, I just wanted to point out that it took me a while to review a genre title from Japan, due to the Earthquake and tsunami freaking me out. For a while, the thought of watching movies where people from Japan die when thousands were dying or dead was a bit much for me. Now, on to the review.

"So, what about everyone else?"

That's what Toei studios was probably saying upon preparing for "Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds." Godzilla and his pals/enemies were on vacation and had become too beloved, Gamera was for the kids, and you can forget about another Gappa or Dogora movie (especially the former.) When was a studio going to make a kaiju flick for a more grown-up audience? Granted, there already was one of sorts with "The Last Dinosaur", and there would be another with next year's "The Bermuda Depths", but how about something with a little "oomph factor" that others seemed to lack? You know, exploitable elements. That's what they tried to do with this movie.

The story deals with an egg that hatches, and unleashes a none too friendly Plesiosaur, who has taken a liking to munching on the citizens. To make matters worse, a Rhamphorhynchus also comes into play, and as will happen in these movies, a fight's going to break out. Oh, and there's some shit involving a scientist and a hot girl, but I really didn't care about that.

As I said, "Legend" tends to offer a few things that other kaiju films of the time didn't offer, namely gore and nudity. Granted, the female nudity is brief, and the gore is mostly of the "found a severed limb" variety, but it was more than other such movies were presenting. At best, the people behind this at least deserve kudos for that.

Sadly, there isn't much else worthy of kudos. The two creatures we get are unconvincing and goofy even for the time, and one can just imagine audiences in Japan laughing their asses off at the sight of these creatures. Then there's the score from "pinky violence" regular Masao Yagi, which while catchy, is a jazzy score that really doesn't fit the proceedings. Hearing bouncy jazz/funk play while a girl is menaced by one of the least convincing dinosaurs ever put to screen is funny, no matter how you stretch it. The conclusion is also too bleak for a movie like this. I wanted the hero to come out on top here, but that doesn't happen, which just left me scratching my head.

The biggest problem though, is that it really isn't that much of a kaiju film. Granted, it's not the worst one ever made that some make it out to be (I'll take this over "Gamera vs. Zigra" any day of the week), but it's still nothing much, and that's mostly because, at the end of the day, it's nothing more than a rip off of a certain shark movie Spielberg directed. No matter how you dress it up, it's a knock-off of a much better movie, and not even a very entertaining one at that.

While it deserves credit for trying be a kaiju flick for adults, "Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds" isn't much to get excited for. Believe me, you've seen better, and all the brief boob and butt shots in the world won't change your mind.

Rating: 4/10

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