Back in the early to mid 1990's, the live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies were all the rage and there were constantly other companies trying to find their own ways to cash in on their success (the excellent animated TV shows Street Sharks and Biker Mice From Mars being chief among them). Of all these, my absolute favorite had to have been Adventures in Dinosaur City, a one-off stand-alone movie that the rest of the world has long-since forgotten, but I still have fond memories of watching and re-watching over and over in my childhood. To the point where even though it's been just about 20 years since I last saw it, I can probably still recite the majority of the movie off-by-heart with little trouble.
Directed by Brett Thompson (The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood Jr., Tornado Warning) and written by Wili Baronet (a guy who would go on to do next to nothing), this little garbage dumpster gem was made by Smart Egg Pictures, which is a company more famous for having co-produced the first five Nightmare On Elm Street flicks, the first Critters, and a hilarious sci-fi/alien invasion comedy called Spaced Invaders. Adventures in Dinosaur City was actually made as a TV movie, though I can't find any reference anywhere as to exactly what channel it was made for, though I do know it had an official VHS release at some point because I distinctly remember completely wearing my VHS copy out as a child. And to be honest, while the movie's production values are incredibly low and bring a whole new level to the word 'Campy', this actually looks almost too good (especially the amazing costumes) for a TV production of that time period.
None of the actors really went on to do anything much of note (actually, this movie seemed to have been the death nail for many of them), though the suit and voice actor for the movie's Allosaurus villain, Mr. Big, was recently in the excellent 2010 horror flick Hatchet II, and he also played Shark in Full Moon's Trancers III. What is an interesting little tidbit though, is that director Brett Thompson actually went to film school with none other than Tim Burton, and it may just be my imagination after discovering that but there are actually aspects of this movie that came across very Burton-esque in their design, such as one scene where the main cast enter some sort of fog-covered dinosaur graveyard with gigantic towering bones sticking up out of the fog everywhere, complete with one shot of a creepy dinosaur Grim Reaper statue in there somewhere.
The story of the movie involves a trio of teenagers, named Timmy, Jamie and Mick, who enjoy spending their free time watching their favorite TV show, called simply Dinosaurs, which features hip and happenin' crime-fighting anthropomorphic dinosaurs. Wanting to watch it on a better screen, Timmy, the youngest of the three, suggests that they try watching it on his father's screen in his laboratory, not realizing that the screen was part of one of his scientists parents' crazy inventions. The moment they turn it on, a vortex sucks the three into the TV screen, and plops them down right into their favorite show. Upon entering the new world, the trio comes across a flightless Dimorphodon named Forey. Although reluctant at first to help them, his knowledge of Dinosaur City proves useful as he guides the three to Tar Town (Also confusingly known by another name - Saur City - in some lines of dialog), where they join up with Rex and Tops, two dinosaur freedom fighters willing to ignite a revolution against the villainous Mr. Big and his caveman henchmen, "The Rockies".
Sure, the acting is pretty bad, especially from the no-named teen actors, the story makes no sense at all, especially in regards to their remote control that can seemingly control the world around them, and the movie is nothing but an overly cheap cash-in on the popularity of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it surprisingly had a pretty engaging quest-like plot to it that took the characters to many unique and interesting locations, and I personally find that the overly-cheap set designs and matte paintings of these locations actually added to the charm of the whole thing, and the dinosaur costumes were actually pretty well-done and not far off from the technical genius of the live-action Ninja Turtles costumes.
Of course this movie would be nowhere near as good if I watched it for the first time now, but if you were someone who, like me, watched it pretty religiously as a kid, this is an excellent nostalgia trip and one where you're more likely to embrace the cheese and the bad more often then not. Heck, there's even some lines of dialog in this that are heavy on the sexual innuendo that only an adult would pick up on, so they made sure to include a few little things in there for the adults that would be watching this with their children.
For a Made-for-TV movie that's become virtually completely forgotten about by this point in time, it was actually a pretty popular little ditty back in the day, having fathered a Super Nintendo video game titled DinoCity (which actually has a much larger and more in-depth wiki entry than the movie itself does), and while I can't seem to find any reference online to it having any toys associated with it, I very distinctly remember owning a couple of them, including one of the Tyrannosaurus hero Rex that had the white portions of his skin under all his spots and freckles glow in the dark.
Even though Adventures in Dinosaur City may not have gotten an official DVD release, there are plenty of bootleg copies floating around the interwebs on sites such as Ebay and IOffer, and the country of Greece even got an official Laserdisc release back when that was the popular format (at some point during those 2 weeks...). So it's not impossible to get your hands on this title, though it is pretty difficult, and I would pay good good money for some form of official Region 1 DVD release here in the Americas, though seeing just how forgotten this movie is now, I'm not holding my breath.
Below you can view the trailer for this and feast upon the buffet of Cheese that it has to offer, and if you're still hungry for more I decided to include a few links to where you can watch the full movie Streaming online. Now, normally I wouldn't do such things, but seeing as how there's been no official release since the now out-of-print VHS tape from 1992 and I can find no information as to what company, if any, even currently owns the Rights, I decided it should be safe to do so and is probably the only way the movie can be viewed this day in age anyway. Of course if the Rights Holders get in touch with me and object to this, I'll gladly remove the links.
So, without further delay, please enjoy everything that Adventures in Dinosaur City has to offer, and let us feast on the Cheese like Kings!
Full Movie Links: