PreCommentary: Animation work reportedy was done by Dave Allen who also created the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

Notes: A Crown International Pictures Release. 85 min.

Sheriff Steve Hanson: Richard Cardella
Arnie Chabot: Glenn Roberts
Mitch Kowalski: Mark Siegel
Richard "Doc" Calkins: Bob Hymen
Dan Turner: Richard Garrison
Susan Patterson: Kacey Cobb
Ross Conway: Michael Hoover
Paula Conway: Suzanne Lewis

Produced and Directed: William R. Stromberg
Screenplay: Richard Cardella and William R. Stromberg

Summary: Scientists Dan and Susan ask Doc to come see the cool junk and stuff they found in "High Peak Mine 1870." It was an Indian cave before the mining, and in a new tunnel they've discovered "drawings over 1000 years old" of stick-figure people battling a plesiosaur. This is considered "proof positive" that some dinosaurs "survived into the age of man." But rumblings force them out of the cave.

A meteor has hit Crater Lake and, we'll find out later, is incubating a prehistoric egg. We hear reports of paleontological interest in a local diner where two good-ole doofuses (or Latin plural: doofi) ogle a waitress. The scene is accompanied by manic banjo music which was probably supposed to be in the background. Sheriff Steve Hanson boats Doc, Dan, and Susan out on the lake so that the latter two can dive. There's worry about the mine: "the university" could withdraw support. While waiting for the divers, the sheriff suggests that Doc come over some time; he's got a freezer full of "bass, trout, name your poison" (poisson?). The divers say that the water is about 90 degrees near the meteor and they'll have to wait until the thing cools off.

Nothing happens. Then, a subjective shot makes us the dinosaur. From its point of view, we eat a camper. A bird-watcher sees the dino in the lake and calls the sheriff, but he is cynical. Much more crucial to law enforcement is the fact that Mr. Ferguson's cows have been traumatized. A shot of the dino approaching cows is a bizarre juxtaposition (but entirely logical in our larger animal abuse context here at the Dino-Source). The sheriff admits it to Ferguson that he is baffled as to "why anybody would want to come up here just to steal your bull."

A fisherman (who we have no way of knowing until later is a Senator) rents a boat from the doofi, although unbeknownst to him no fish have been caught in the past two months. The dinosaur attacks, knocks him out of the boat, and eats him. The doofi hope he is late in order to charge him more for the boat, but the boat returns empty and bloodied. Doc and Sheriff Hanson (I know! a tall Sonny Bono!) are baffled.

It occurs to one at this point that everyone in this movie is going bald. A couple, Ross and Paula, is driving to Las Vegas but their car breaks down. As it is being repaired, they rent a boat from Arnie and Mitch, who therefore must get to the hoedown on foot. The doofi fight lakeside until they discover the washed up head of the fisherman. The sheriff tells them not to rent any more boats and takes the bagged head to Doc. Meanwhile, the dino tries to strike the Vegas couple, but they drive the boat aground. When Ross regains consciousness, the dino attacks again. Ross lights the boat on fire and the two weep among the rocks as the dinosaur retreats.

We see oddly excessive footage of a derelict in his home, leaving, driving, entering a liquor store, and finally holding up the clerk at gunpoint. The clerk pulls a gun, and the derelict shoots him and a female witness. He leaves with a measly pint!

Now, through a subjective shot, we are the fisherman's head being covered by Doc. The wounds were "made by some sort of teeth," but the teeth are unidentifiable. Doc notes, "The wildlife, they sense something is wrong." Consensus is that it all has someting to do with the meteor; it's been 6 months since the meteor plunged into the lake (although it feels like two days--albeit two long days).

The doofi, worried that they rented a boat to the Vegas two (before the sheriff's order not to), find them traumatized. The sheriff chews out the doofi. They get drunk and mistake a log for a monster.

Sheriff Dick Weed checks out a car at the diner. The killer/derelict sneaks back into it and drives off, shooting at the sheriff as he goes by. The subsequent car chase ends in a shoot-out by the lake. While the sheriff reloads, the dinosaur eats the derelict. Finally the sheriff sees the dino, shoots, and careens away in his car. He tells Doc that the creature was "like a huge alligator . . . big as a house." "Holy cow! . . . Steve, we're up against something here that goes against every natural law." Talking with the scientists, Dan and Susan, the sheriff begins again to describe the animal: "It had a long neck--dammit, Dan, teeth and eyes is mostly what I saw." It had flippers and dragged itself along. It looked like a lizard. "It was 50, 60 feet long." Dan: "Sounds like an aquatic dinosaur." Yep, we're "up against a living dinosaur." We decide that the heat from the meteor hatched the dino egg lodged in the near-freezing mud of the lake, a "natural incubator." Susan announces that we have a case of a "dormant egg hatched by an incredible freak accident." The sheriff is cynical still: "I've got missing cattle, missing persons; my phone's ringing off the hook!" He wonders how to kill the "monster." The scientists want to trap it instead and the rest of the film debates this issue. It ate all the fish, but the sheriff says, "I could name a couple of things it's added to its menu."

We see the creature swimming. (Nessie!) Meanwhile, at a town meeting, backwoods booger-eating sister-marrying rednecks shout, "Kill it!" Arnie, however, objects that they're "talkin' about killin' the goose that laid the golden egg" and thinks about the money that will pour into the town when the scientific community gets word. (So both sides of the issue are supported by slimeballs.) An old man gets mauled and stumbles into the meeting. Arnie (clearly paraphrasing Oscar Wilde) quips to Mitch, "I think we better haul our butts outta here before our meal ticket gets shot."

The sheriff and others run out to where the dinosaur was last seen. He jumps into a snowplow and Arnie initially tries to stop him but jumps aboard. When the sheriff starts snowplowing the animal to death, Arnie jumps out and is bitten but dropped. The dino staggers and drops dead from snowplow wounds. Everyone looks at Arnie's corpse as if to suggest some kind of nonverbal meaning.

Mitch is alone. His final wailing: "Our boats, Arnie, our boats. Damn you, Arnie."

Commentary: "Damn you, Arnie" indeed. Actually, although the experience is unbearable, the film begs for Marxist analysis. What is the point of showing the squalor of the derelict instead of just beginning with his entering the liquor store, unless there is supposed to be a vision of the poverty in this community? Concern about the "university" withdrawing funds is absolutely extraneous otherwise. And Arnie sees the dinosaur in terms of incoming dollars. Any such sustained consideration is difficult, however, because of the queasy backwoods feel of the film (it's supposed to be California, but you'll swear it's Arkansas), and the fact that everyone in it is balding.