The Last Dinosaur (1977)
The Last Dinosaur (極底探険船ポーラーボーラ is a Kyokutei Tanken-sen Pōrā Bōra, lit. Sub-Polar Exploration Ship Polar-Borer)1977 tokusatsu kaiju film co-produced by Rankin/Bass Productions and Tsuburaya Productions and distributed by Toho. The film first aired on ABC on February 11, 1977 in the United States, while it was later released theatrically in Japan in October of that year.
During an underwater oil drilling expedition, Thrust Industries' advanced submersible drilling vehicle the Polar-Borer accidentally burrows into a gigantic underground cavern. The vessel's crew ventures out to explore, with one member, Chuck Wade, remaining behind in the Polar-Borer. However, the crew soon find themselves attacked in the jungle by a colossal predator, a Tyrannosaurus rex. Wade manages to escape in the Polar-Borer, with all of his crew mates killed by the dinosaur. When Thrust Industries' CEO, multibillionaire Masten Thrust Jr., learns of the event, he orders a second Polar-Borer expedition to the strange underground world to investigate the presence of a prehistoric creature there, one on which he will be part of the crew. While as far as the public is concerned the expedition is for scientific purposes and grant closure for the crew members lost previously, Thrust - an accomplished big game hunter who had not faced a challenging hunt in years - intends to hunt the Tyrannosaurus himself and claim it as the ultimate trophy. Accompanying Thrust on the expedition are Wade, Japanese scientist Dr. Kawamoto, and an African tracker named Bunta. Francesca Banks, a journalist, convinces Thrust to bring her along on the expedition after seducing him.
The Polar-Borer is launched from Thrust Industries' oil platform Mother 1, and successfully bores through the polar ice and ocean floor until it surfaces in a lake within a jungle-covered underground cavern. Thrust, Wade, Bunta, and Francesca disembark to investigate, while Kawamoto remains behind to watch over their base camp. While exploring the jungle, they narrowly avoid being trampled by a stampeding ceratopsian. They later come upon a pond, where they find gigantic leeches as well as a rock which they later discover is a giant turtle. Meanwhile, the Tyrannosaurus that killed the crew of the last Polar-Borer discovers the expedition's base camp, killing Dr. Kawamoto and trashing the camp before making off with the Polar-Borer. The beast deposits its new prize in its lair, littered with the bones of other prey. Suddenly, a Triceratops erupts from underground and charges at the Tyrannosaurus, goring it with its sharp horns. Despite sustaining injuries, the Tyrannosaurus kills its foe by biting down on its neck with its razor-sharp teeth, causing the Triceratops to bleed to death.
Thrust and the others soon find themselves stranded in the underground world, their every move stalked by both the Tyrannosaurus and a tribe of primitive humans. They are forced to camp in a cave and survive using the weapons they salvaged and hunting the local wildlife. Additionally, Francesca and Wade begin developing feelings for each other. When a large party of primitive men corner the trio, Thrust and Wade manage to kill some of them with their rifles, convincing the others to stay far away from them from now on. However, a primitive woman takes an interest in the group, particularly Thrust, and follows them to their camp. Thrust is furious when the primitive woman tries to sleep with him and wants her thrown out of the camp, but Francesca decides to let her stay, naming her Hazel. One day as Hazel and Francesca are getting water from a lake, they are attacked by the Tyrannosaurus. They narrowly manage to avoid its attack, convincing Thrust that they need to kill it. Thrust and Bunta begin preparing an elaborate trap for the Tyrannosaurus, when Wade discovers the Polar-Borer in the monster's lair. He and Francesca try to convince Thrust to abandon his hunt and help them salvage the Polar-Borer, but find that Thrust's obsession has consumed him and that he wants nothing more than to kill the Tyrannosaurus himself. Wade and Francesca abandon Thrust to his hunt and manage to retrieve the Polar-Borer from the Tyrannosaurus' lair using a pulley system, before finally pushing it back into the lake where it originally emerged. Wade begins repairs to allow the craft to escape, but Francesca goes back to try and convince Thrust to come with them.
As Wade nearly completes repairs on the Polar-Borer, the Tyrannosaurus finds and kills Bunta and prepares to do the same to Thrust and Francesca. Thrust is able to spring his trap, which catapults a gigantic boulder into the Tyrannosaurus' head. While at first it seems to have been effective in bringing the beast down, the Tyrannosaurus soon gets back to its feet and destroys the catapult before escaping. Francesca begs Thrust to leave with her and Wade, but he continues to refuse to go home empty-handed. Francesca pleads with him to leave the Tyrannosaurus alone, since it's "the last dinosaur," but Thrust simply replies that so is he. Thrust sees Francesca and Wade off as the Polar-Borer submerges and returns to the surface world. As Thrust hears the Tyrannosaurus' roar echo through the jungle, he prepares to continue his hunt, and is surprised when Hazel approaches him. Rather than shoo her off like before, Thrust finally decides to let Hazel join him, and the two set off into the jungle together.
- Main article: The Last Dinosaur/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Tsugunobu Kotani, Alexander Grasshoff
- Written by William Overgard
- Produced by Noboru Tsuburaya, Arthur Rankin Jr., Jules Bass, Kazuyoshi Kasai, Benni Korzen, Kinshiro Okubo, Masaki Izuka
- Music by Maury Laws
- Arranged and Conducted by Kenjiro Hirose
- Theme Song "The Last Dinosaur" Performed by Nancy Wilson
- Composed by Maury Laws
- Lyrics by Jules Bass
- Arranged and Conducted by Bernard Hoffer
- Cinematography by Shoji Ueda
- Edited by Minoru Kozono, Yoshitami Kuroiwa, Tatsuji Nakashizu
- Production Design by Kazuhiko Fujiwara
- Assistant Directing by Shohei Tojo
- Special Effects by Kazuo Sagawa, Yoshiyuki Yoshimura
- Main article: The Last Dinosaur/Credits.
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Richard Boone as Masten Thrust Jr., CEO of Thrust Industries
- Joan Van Ark as Francesca Banks, newspaper reporter
- Steven Keats as Chuck Wade, Polar-Borer crew
- Luther Rackley as Bunta, tracker
- Masumi Sekiya as Hazel, Primitive Woman
- William Ross as Hal
- Carl Hansen as Barney
- Tetsu Nakamura as Dr. Kawamoto, inventor of the Polar-Borer
- Don Maloney as Captain of Mother 1
- Vanessa Cristina as Reporter
- Shunsuke Kariya as Primal Man leader
- Toru Kawai as Tyrannosaurus
- Tatsumi Nikamoto as Triceratops (front end)
- Shuichiro Moriyama as Masten Thrust Jr.
- Michiko Hirai as Francesca Banks
- Katsunosuke Hori as Chuck Wade
Weapons, Vehicles, and Races
- Main article: The Last Dinosaur/Gallery.
- Sub-Polar Exploration Ship Polar-Borer (literal Japanese title)
- The Last Dinosaur (最後の恐竜 Saigo no Kyōryū, early Japanese title)
- The Last Dinosaur: The Polar-Borer (最後の恐竜ポーラーボーラ Saigo no Kyōryū Pōrā-Bōra, alternate Japanese title)
- The Last Dinosaur: Sub-Polar Exploration Ship Polar-Borer (最後の恐竜 極底探険船ポーラーボーラ Saigo no Kyōryū Kyokutei Tanken-sen Pōrā-Bōra, Japanese VHS title)
- Last Dinosaur - King of Monsters (Viimeinen Dinosaurus - Hirviöitten Kuningas; Finland)
The Last Dinosaur was scheduled for theatrical releases in both Japan and the United States, however it was decided at the last moment to release the film straight to television in the U.S. The film was aired on television by ABC, and had 11 minutes cut from its run time, while it was later released uncut theatrically in Japan by Toho. Warner Bros. finally released the uncut English version of the film in 2011 on DVD.
- Discs: 1
- Region: 2
- Audio: Japanese, English
- Special Features: Audio commentary by director Tsugunobu Kotani and actress Masumi Sekitani, message from actress Sekitani, interview with special effects director Kazuo Sagawa (13 minutes), behind-the-scenes footage narrated by Sagawa, production galleries, Japanese trailer
Warner Archives DVD (2011)
- Region: N/A
- Discs: 1
- Audio: English (2.0 Mono)
- Subtitles: None
- Special Features: None
- Notes: Made-to-order DVD-R.
- This film was a co-production between Tsuburaya Productions and Rankin/Bass, the latter having previously collaborated with Toho to make King Kong Escapes ten years earlier.
- This film is also the second non-Ultra Series film collaboration between Toho and Tsuburaya Productions, with the first being Daigoro vs. Goliath.
- After this film, the Tyrannosaurus rex suit was refurbished and reused in two more Tsuburaya Productions projects, both times as recurring but otherwise unrelated villains; first as Ururu (alias Emperor Tyrannos) in Dinosaur Great War Izenborg (1977-1978) and later as Tyrannosaurus Jackie in Dinosaur Squadron Koseidon (1978-1979).
- The Tyrannosaurus in this film is portrayed by Toru Kawai, who played Godzilla in Zone Fighter and Terror of Mechagodzilla, while the front end of the Triceratops is portrayed by Tatsumi Nikamoto, who acted opposite Kawai as Zone Fighter and Titanosaurus in the two works, respectively.
- The Tyrannosaurus utilizes a combination of Godzilla's roars and King Kong's roars from King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes.
- The boneyard that litters the Tyrannosaurus' lair contains the remains of a wide variety of prehistoric creatures that are not seen living onscreen in the rest of the film. Among the remains are the skulls of a two-horned warthog, numerous mastodons, an ox with a singular horn like that of a unicorn, a separate ox skull with three unusual horns, an unspecified giant reptile, a long-faced cow, a sitting pair of bull skulls, a large headless humanoid skeleton hanging from a dead tree, numerous Pteranodons, the scattered jawbones of prehistoric rhinoceroses such as the Embolotherium and the Arsinoitherium, and skulls heavily resembling those of the dire wolf, the Archaeotherium, the Pakicetus, and the Daeodon.
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