Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985)
By: Julian on October 26, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Shriek Show (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 88 minutes
The Movie
Director: Michele Massimo Tarantini
Starring: Michael Sopkiw, Suzane Carvalho, Milton Morris
Screenplay: Michael E. Lemick
Country: Italy
AKA: Nudo e selvaggio
The mid to late eighties was when the glory days of Italian exploitation cinema were finally over. The zombie cycle had significantly dried up, master auteurs such as Joe D'Amato and Bruno Mattei were forced into making either zero-budget Hollywood rip-offs or porn, and the cannibal and mondo genres were fading into cult obscurity. One of the final films to be released before the great sleaze curtain call was Michele Massimo Tarantini's Massacre in Dinosaur Valley. Directed under the pseudonym Michael E Lemick and starring minor B-grade action star Michael Sopkiw, Massacre in Dinosaur Valley is a fun romp, but doesn't hold a candle to its predecessors.

Sopkiw plays anthropologist Kevin Hall, a suave gentleman who plays like a poor man's James Bond. Hall has traveled to the jungles of South America to meet up with Professor Ibanez and his daughter Eva in order to hitch a ride to the famed Dinosaur Valley, which, legend has it, is cursed. Herein lies the first disappointment – for those who fancy a bit of prehistory with their celluloid, Massacre in Dinosaur Valley features no dinosaur action whatsoever. The group travel over the Valley in a charter plane with a psychotic Vietnam vet, Captain Hein,z and his wife Betty, as well as a smut photographer and his two fashion models in heels (who provide, if nothing else, a great excuse for ultra-gratuitous nudity). The plane, quite predictably, crashes and we say goodbye to our pilot, Professor Ibanez and one of the busty bombshells.

Now the fun really begins.

Forced to trudge through the unforgiving terrain of the Brazilian jungles, Hall, Eva, Betty and the photographer-porn star duo (you just know they're not gonna last) are led through by Captain Heinz, who quickly turns out to be an arsehole extraordinaire. He is the classic embodiment of the macho man you love to hate, and he's an antagonist equal to his infuriatingly bitchy wife Betty. Things adopt a light comedic tone, until our first encounter with a particularly nasty group of tribal flesh eaters. Eva and the surviving babe are captured and the photographer is killed along the way in a scene that marks the grisly zenith of the picture. Hall stages a daring capture, leaving some fallen in his wake at the hands of his trusty 10-gauge, which seems to reload by itself. Unfortunately, freedom is short-lived when his party stumbles upon a megalomaniac businessman who has constructed an illegal mining and slave operation in the area. Things, as they say, are about to turn nasty.

Going under the title Cannibal Ferox 2 in the UK in order to capitalize on the phenomenal success of Umberto Lenzi's 1981 cult classic, Massacre in Dinosaur Valley is a generally sub-par, albeit entertaining, later effort for the cannibal cycle. The gore is bad, the direction worse and the acting is flat-out appalling – Carvalho doesn't manage to utter one line without a stupid grin, even when she is facing an almost-certain death. That said, it's clear that Tarantini doesn't play for the intelligentsia with the film, and he amps up the T&A with his attractive leads as much as the censorship standards of the day would allow. Cannibal action is disappointingly brief, but we are dished out our exploitation in other forms, most notably a vicious piranha attack and a lesbian rape. It's all campy fun, but at what expense? Massacre in Dinosaur Valley is by no means a great film, but it is an entertaining one. The daft ineptness of everyone involved in making the picture adds a decidedly comedic feel to the movie, and the bad gore and the sheer exploitative frequency of nudity does make this a fun ride to be on. Alas, it is not nearly as good as the other films of its stock and, while it does sometimes pony up the goods, it isn't nearly as thought-provoking, satisfying or shocking as other films of its genre.

Interestingly enough, Massacre in Dinosaur Valley marked the end of Tarantini and Sopkiw's careers, but this was most likely due to the fact that it was an exploitation film made so late in the game. Tarantini's most notable directorial achievement post-Massacre was the Women in Prison picture Women in Fury, which was a minor classic among cult circles and starred Massacre's Suzane Carvalho. Massacre in Dinosaur Valley was also Sopkiw's last role before a camera, however the diabolical Jeffrey Soares made a number of films in his native Brazil before his death in 1996. Dardano Sacchetti, the man behind the screenplays of Cat O'Nine Tails, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Cut and Run and many a Fulci film, goes uncredited as co-writer.
Picture is presented in the 1:85:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement. This is the film's original aspect ratio and the picture looks excellent.
A Dolby Digital 2.0 English track is provided, and it is dubbed with the sort of ineptness you'd expect for an Italian cannibal flick. I'm a big believer in original language with subtitles, but there's no option on this Shriek Show disc. An Italian DVD from the No-Shame label has been released in a double-pack with Antonio Climati's The Green Inferno, which has the original Italian language track intact.
Extra Features
Shriek Show can be very hit and miss with their releases, but this is a definite winner. The highlight is the audio commentary and twenty-five minute interview with star Sopkiw, who talks candidly about his work in Italian B cinema (a grand total of four films, inclusive). A nineteen-minute interview with Tarantini is also included, and the director recounts his work on this film and Women in Fury.

There's also a healthy display of deleted scenes on offer, as well as production stills. Shriek Show trailers are also provided for other Eurotrash offerings Eaten Alive!, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, Zombi 2 and Jungle Holocaust.
The Verdict
Massacre in Dinosaur Valley is a trash exploitation film of the lowest denominator. The acting is atrocious, the set-ups ridiculous – but it can be a fun ride. Those who can really, genuinely appreciate such Z-grade sleaze would love this sort of thing, but it's worth being mindful of the fact that there is bigger, and much better, out there. Shriek Show's release is excellent and certainly the most comprehensive edition of this film, but the No-Shame disc does have the Italian track. Cannibal Ferox it ain't, but props to Tarantini for trying.
Movie Score
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