Simply put: I don't do cannibal movies. From what I understand of the subgenre, it seems like watching one of these films would be too much of an Endurance Experience and too little of a Fun Experience for me, and as such, I fully cop to that empty spot in my exploitation film education. What can I say? Once I got my undergraduate degree, I made a promise to myself never to read or watch anything that I didn't want to. For me, that umbrella just so happens to cover the works of Marcel Proust as well "Cannibal Holocaust." So when "Massacre in Dinosaur Valley" showed up on my doorstep, purchased blindly due to its unpossibly excellent title from my pals at Trash Palace, I was a little leery to pop it into my DVD player due to its tagline: "A journey into a cannibal inferno." Visions of turtle-torture, native gang-bangs and genital mutilation flashed before my eyes. What had I gotten myself into? After getting a little bit into my cups this past weekend, and having hit fail-dirt with "SS Experiment Love Camp" (which I'd already seen, disliked, then forgotten, and oh by the way SPOILER ALERT: they're not really in love), I was feeling steeled enough to give "Massacre in Dinosaur Valley" a shot.
Ho. Lee. Shit. "Massacre in Dinosaur Valley" is a sublimely stupid film, filled with comedy of both the intentional and unintentional varieties; a film that refuses to take itself seriously and borders on a parody too perfect to achieve if parody had been its ultimate goal. Michael Sopkiw (who, by the way, is a FUCKING RAD individual) plays Kevin Hall, a rugged, wise-cracking paleontologist-slash-adventurer cast in the Indiana Jones mold who encounters a famous paleontologist and his frequently-nude daughter at a run-down Brazilian hotel whose lobby does triple duty as a bar, restaurant and cock-fighting arena. Hooking up with a French airplane pilot, a Vietnam vet and his wife (who is a dead ringer for transsexual superstar Amanda Lepore), as well as a fashion photographer and his two models, the unlikely cadre heads out for a sight-seeing fly-over of the supposedly-cursed and definitely-cannibal-infested Dinosaur Valley. Before you can see "three hour tour," our Gilligan's-Island-esque band has crashed smack in the middle of cannibal country and are forced to navigate their way through the jungle and to eventual safety.
If this seems predictable, it both IS and ISN'T. I made a checklist about forty minutes in that went a little like this:
- Sopkiw and brunette live
- Many natives get hacked up
- Blonde gets body part(s) eaten
- A snake dies
Well, dear readers--only two of these things happened. What I *didn't* predict was that, after escaping the clutches of the natives just as they were about to get all sacrificey, the surviving members of the party encounter an evil slave trader and smuggler who brings the movie round to being a prison film for a while before the helicopter-tastic ending. So, yes--"Massacre in Dinosaur Valley" is actually two--TWO--ridiculous movies for the price of one. Hooray!
Tame by cannibal standards, "Massacre in Dinosaur Valley" favors light-hearted adventure in the tradition of black-and-white serials over gruesome thrills. There's relatively little blood and only one act of cannibalism. It seems like the movie took its inspiration from "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," which the filmmakers clearly found to be entirely too highbrow and coherent, crafting this glorious dollop of dumbitude as their response. This movie just brims with low-budget bliss. There's a model airplane crash, some hinkey-looking natives, eye-bugging melodramatic performances, and utterly redonkulous dialogue. Oh--and boobs--lots and lots of shots of boobs: native sacrifice boobs, running boobs, bloody boobs, wet t-shirt boobs... It's pretty much a bonanza of pulchritudinous Euroflesh. Not that I'm complaining.
The movie is so full of plot holes that I started to be pleasantly surprised when the plot actually made sense. I'm kind of unclear as to why everyone in the movie was so keen on going to dinosaur valley, and once they were headed there, why the pilot was so adamant about not allowing extra passengers, and why the damn plane crashed at all, but as long as I let myself get carried along on a stream of delicious silliness, I had a great time. Then there's the bit with the really fussy piranha, who gnaw mercilessly on one character's leg, yet leave the two characters who wrestle in the depths of their river a moment later entirely alone. Perhaps they were full?Then Kevin decides that, instead of JUST SHOOTING at the natives and rescuing his companions, he'd rather take the time out to craft a little bomb from gunpowder to "distract" the natives. Some time later a dinosaur track gets discovered and leads to precisely zero story developments.
But--come the fuck ON, dudes--check out that film still above. If that doesn't sell you on seeing this logic-free bit of trash cinema excellence, I don't know what will.