J-Ro dug up this direct-to-video b-grade Jurassic Park rip-off on a double video store screener (the Armand Assante net-thriller Digital Reaper was the flipside) obtained while his sister was still working at Video Ezy. Reasons for watching this was that the film was called Pterodactyl, features Pterodactyls and stars both Cameron Daddo and Coolio. Turns out it was also directed by Mark L. Lester who made a name for himself during the 1980s making trashy action epics like Class of 1984, Commando and Showdown In Little Tokyo. How the mighty have fallen.
Flick opens with some redneck poachers in the hills of Turkey becoming serrated in half by CGI globs that are actually Pterodactyls! Meanwhile in a nearby small town Cameron Daddo who has grey hair and is going for a third-rate George Clooney type of hero leads a band of plucky high-school archaeologists on a field trip in the one rusty jeep. Yes, the line-up includes one red-head assistant who has a student-crush on Professor Daddo, one busty blonde who is an archetype Beverly Hills bitch (and provides the cheesecake for this cheesefest) and a couple of flat-out science nerds. With the level of characterisation and performance, you might be confused and think you’re watching a Saturday Morning high school sitcom: “Stay tuned you’re watching Pterodactyl High!” Anyway, they hit the road while the composer of Gangsta’s Paradise, Coolio, is going for a third-rate Samuel L. Jackson type of hero, commander of a platoon of soldiers who are tracking some Turkish drug-dealing, women-thieving warlords. With the poorly choreographed action sequences and Coolio’s troops’ inability to look comfortable handling prop guns, you might also be confused for thinking you’re watching a high concept comedy about a Special Ed. branch of Crack Marines.
The plot begins to creak into existence when Cameron Daddo finds some dried Pterodactyl urine on the trees, which looks like someone dumped a kilo of Crunchie on the ground, and then the Blonde student takes a dip in a lake in her bikini before being pecked at by a Pterodactyl. Features genius cross-cutting between CGI dinosaur, resembling a refuge from a 1990s PC game, and a poor puppet dinosaur diving into the water, demonstrating seamless cross-cutting worthy of Stan Winston himself. Then the freaked out team of archaeologists bump into Coolio who has captured his swarthy warload and they are all attacked in an open field by more Pterodactyls that keep ripping off characters’ heads and arms. As Mitch asked during the screening asked, “Are Pterodactyls made completely of razor blades?”
The rest of the movie rips off Aliens, Tremors and Dog Soldiers and every other movie where a motley crew fend off a batch of creatures. You’ve got one nerd student babbling on about what Madame Curie has to teach us about science and then you’ve got Coolio using heat-seeking missiles to terminate the creatures with extreme prejudice. You’ve got the hero’s love interest, the red-haired assistant with the crush being picked up by a pterodactyl, but left unharmed UNLIKE EVERY OTHER CHARACTER, deposited in a cave for the rest of the characters to climb up and rescue her. You’ve got a wounded nerd throwing a chocolate bar at a pterodactyl before he is chomped. You’ve got pseudo-science and shithouse graphics when the sun goes down and the pterodactyls IMMEDIATELY fall asleep because they only sleep in the dark and that gives the humans a break (nice going, science). You’ve got a stupid climax where Coolio sacrifices himself by firing a missile at the last pterodactyl but then dying like an idiot and forcing Cameron Daddo to step up to the plate and finish the job by PUTTING ON SOME GOOGLES THAT GUIDE THE MISSILES (nice going, military). Then you’ve got Cameron Daddo and the red-haired laughing it up as they walk off into the sunset making some references to Jurassic Park before the camera tunnels into the depths of the Turkish mountains to discover a CGI T-Rex! Illogical bid for a sequel!
And now for the most memorable quote of the movie:
COOLIO: “Now Professor... tell me about these dinosaurs?”