Being a fan of weird movies can occasionally make it a tad difficult to engage in everyday workplace conversations around the water cooler.
“Joe, what did you do this weekend?”
“I watched the big football game. Go [insert name of team here]! Woohoo!”
“That’s dandy! Suicide Blonde, what did you do this weekend?”
“I watched Massacre in Dinosaur Valley.”
(Awkward silence follows….)
What these benighted souls don’t realize is that while Massacre in Dinosaur Valley isn’t, strictly speaking, a good movie, it’s way better than football. I ask you – does football have boatloads of gratuitous nudity, leeches, plane crashes, spear-throwing, machete hacking, quicksand, piranha attacks, cannibalism, people getting hit in the ass by poison darts, and did I mention gratuitous nudity?
Not that it matters, but here’s the plot of Massacre in Dinosaur Valley. In sunny Brazil, we meet our mayhem fodder, I mean, characters. Drunken French Pilot is taking Disgruntled ‘Nam Vet, the vet’s Shrewish Ex-Wife, a Dorky Photographer, and Two Hot Underwear Models on a flight to the next big city. Along for the ride are Kindly Paleontologist, his Hot Daughter, and an archeologist named Kevin. I mention Kevin by name because he’s the only character whose name I can remember, and because he’s played by the rather tasty Michael Sopkiw, who’s like a blond Bruce Campbell with less talent and an even bigger chin. After some hijinks that include Kevin getting the crap beaten out of him by some locals, scoring with one of the Hot Underwear Models, and not-so-inadvertently seeing the Professor’s Hot Daughter naked in the shower, the plane takes off with the intention of detouring in Dinosaur Valley so Professor, Hot Daughter, and Kevin can go look for fossils. Did I mention that Dinosaur Valley is supposed to be cursed and is home to cannibal tribes?
Anyway, the plane crash-lands unconvincingly in Dinosaur Valley. Professor, Drunken French Pilot, and one of the Hot Underwear Models are killed in the crash. Disgruntled ‘Nam Vet puts himself in charge and attempts to lead the motley crew to civilization before the cannibal tribe catches them. Did I mention that in addition to cannibal tribes, Dinosaur Valley is also home to some particularly nasty slavers?
Massacre in Dinosaur Valley is exploitation trash to be sure – the sort of movie in which the flight from the cannibals is interrupted so the party’s leader can leer at boobies - but there’s something almost lighthearted about it that makes the movie far more enjoyable than similar films (such as Cannibal Ferox, a movie I actually regret watching). There’s no animal cruelty – though there is a cockfight early on, in his commentary Sopkiw points out that the roosters’ feet were bandaged so there was no harm done. The ickiest scenes are actually in the slavers’ camp, when the surviving women suffer the unwelcome advances of the camp leader and his lesbian assistant. But the shirtless, tight-jeaned Kevin comes to the rescue and happy Brazilian samba music rolls over the credits. My only complaint is that there were no actual dinosaurs in Dinosaur Valley. If only they’d snuck in some footage from The Valley of Gwangi and had Kevin kill a dinosaur with his bare hands, I’d have been in exploitation paradise.
Shriek Show has put together a fine DVD package. The transfer looks great, particularly for such a low-budget effort. There’s a cheerful, rambling commentary by Sopkiw, interviews with Sopkiw and with director Michele Tarantini, deleted scenes, and trailers for several other Italian zombie and/or cannibal films such as Eaten Alive and Zombi 2.
Not a bad choice if you want some old-school exploitation cinema without the cruelty and nihilism of other Italian cannibal/zombie films.