Dinosaurs in Hollywood

This is one from May 2005


You may have noticed a section in my links called “Here There be Monsters…” I am actually quite addicted to Monster Movies. I prefer the older ones especially anything staring Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr or Bela Lugosi. I also like anything with Chris Lee (last seen as Saruman) or Peter Cushing (last seen as Darth Vader’s right hand man Grand Moff Tarkin) – anything with Godzilla in it is also good.
I bring this up because yesterday I watched all three Jurassic Park movies and had a couple of thoughts on them – the fact that I just did a longish post on Stegosaurs also factored into it.
There is a tradition in horror movies dating back to 1925’s The Lost World to portray dinosaurs as nothing but killing machines wandering from one killed beast to the next with nary a pause for dinner.
Lost World 1925change%20of%20pace%201.jpg
King Kong continued the tradition. While they are still on Skull Island Kong has to fight off any number of dinosaurs. There is also the scene with the Stegosaurus and the scene with the bronto – umm – apatosaurus (where a large majority of the crew are killed).
King Kong 1933change%20of%20pace%202.jpg
Valley of the Gwanji , made in 1969, continued the trend. Gwanji (I have never quite made up my mind whether it was supposed to be a T-rex or an allosaurus) roamed the valley indiscriminately killing anything that moved.
Valley of the Gwanji 1969change%20of%20pace%203.jpg
In some ways the Jurassic Park movies are a continuation of this trend. Granted the herbivorous dinosaurs are portrayed somewhat realistically, but the carnivores still kill anything that moves – even if it just ate.

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5 Responses

  1. Yeah, that alwyas bothered me about Jurrasic Park. Not that I thought it was a documentary or anything, but let’s be somewhat realistic!
    Geeky side note: The quote to the left that starts “With the first link, the chain is forged…” and is attributed to Picard is actually him quoting someone else (Admiral Satee(sp?)) :-p

  2. I agree there’s a problem, especially in the older films you name. King Kong has even worse problems, such as showing an herbivore (Apatosaurus) as aggressive. I’d add that this is hardly limited to dinosaurs — look at how wolves and sharks are often used in movies. But at least in the Jurassic Park movies, there’s a sort-of explanation. There are at least three reasons I can think of for a carnivore to attack:
    1) hunger
    2) territoriality
    3) fear for self or offspring
    Given that a great many of the attacks in the JP films have the animals attacking alien objects (trailer, airplane, jeep, boat) only after an extensive threat display and/or being threatened or outright attacked by humans, I suggest either the second or third reason applies. After all, no carnivore with a gram of sense is going to roar before it attacks a prey animal.

  3. Think about the scene in the third movie where they bumble into the T-Rex eating the carcass and are then chased till the Spinosaurus shows up. Most carnivores would have stayed nearer to the carcass – especially if the critters trying to move in on the meal left…

  4. Hey! I’m not the only one. It was one of the things that prevented me from liking Peter Jackson’s King Kong. A group of T-Rexes chase a herd of bronto — er — apatosauruses. They did this aparently to only kill the people rather than for food. Why else would the continue chasing the herd after so many die? They were killing dinosaurs on skull island just to watch them die…

  5. The first two JP films were definitely much better about this, though naturally not perfect. The T. rexes were generally portrayed as attacking primarily out of territoriality or hunger. Heck, I’d get pretty peeved if I were locked up behind one of those electric fences. ;)
    The Velociraptors (I wonder why nobody ever says V. mongoliensis. Not as catchy as T. rex?) are different. But the films distinctly treat them as being nearly equivalent to humans. We don’t ask questions when humans kill for reasons other than food, so presumably we shouldn’t when the Velociraptors do it, either.
    Anyway, the real reason for unrealistic behaviour is clear, and it’s the same as it was for Jaws: it makes for a more dramatic film. Nothing more or less.

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