Virtual Cinema a Go-Go Presents a Dino Double Feature!
Mark your calendars for the next Virtual Cinema a Go-Go, presenting a Dino Double Feature at 7 p.m. on March 4! Screenings will include Unknown Island (1948), a schlocky B-movie with unconvincing prehistoric monsters, plus The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956), where cowboys battle dinosaurs. To get your free virtual ticket, click here.
Often cited as the worst dinosaur movie ever made, Unknown Island (1948) at least has the distinction of being the first "lost world" film to be shot in color. It's also got a pretty good cast - Richard Denning, Virginia Grey, Phillip Reed and perennial bad guy Barton MacLane in a tale about a motley crew of adventurers who venture to an island where dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures still roam.
It's not so much the derivative, by-the-numbers script...it's the dinosaur
special effects that bring new meaning to the word "crappy." Rather than Willis O'Brien's brilliant stop motion animation that enlivened similar films, Unknown Island is stuck with a bunch of stunt men stumbling around in unconvincing rubber suits that wobble like jello.
Fortunately, The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956) at least has the virtue of special effects by the master, Willis O'Brien. He virtually invented the technique of stop motion animation, which he brought to life in films like
The Lost World (1925) and King Kong (1933).
Even though it's not O'Brien's best work - owing perhaps to the low budget - the dinosaur footage in this film is still enjoyable to watch. It's just too bad the dinosaur doesn't show up 'til two-thirds of the way through the film!
Willis O'Brien had long dreamed of creating a "cowboys vs. dinosaurs" movie, even doing considerable pre-production in the late '40s for a film called Valley of the Mist, which was ultimately cancelled by the studio. Perhaps some of those ideas were used for The Beast of Hollow Mountain, in which an American cowboy in Mexico discovers his cattle are being eaten by a giant prehistoric dinosaur.
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