Split Decision: 65 Million Years in the Making

Welcome back to Split Decision! Each week, we pose a question to our staff of knowledgable and passionate film geeks and share the responses! We may never know if it is legal to park in the center of Broad Street, but we’ll answer movie questions all day long. Chime in on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below!

This week’s question:

In honor of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, what is your favorite dinosaur or other prehistoric creature featured in a movie?

I’d vote for the giant worm from Lair of the White Worm--if that qualifies as a prehistoric creature.–Gary M. Kramer

That would be Petrie the Pteranodon from The Land Before Time. I named my pet yellow canary after him.–

Since everybody already chose my favorite dinosaur and this feature doesn’t need a fifth blurb about how great Theodore Rex is, I’ll go with the creature that scares me the most: I am still in awe of the terror that is the Water Horse. I have never seen the movie the Deep One emerged from, but I remember seeing this thing in trailers and posters and honestly thinking it looked frightening every time. This is a G-rated film about a child’s magical friendship with the Loch Ness Monster, and the VFX department decided the Water Horse should look like some Jurassic Park concept art scrapped for being too nightmarish. Lovecraft characters have lost their minds over less. —

I must go with the Dilophosaurus that kills Newman (actually, his name is Dennis Nedry apparently, played by Wayne Knight, but c’mon, it’s Newman) in Jurassic Park. That movie came out at the tail (ha!) end of my fascination with dinosaurs, and I was already a big fan of the Dilophosaurus. Not to mention the tense, almost cute cat and mouse game they play that results in a terrifying jump scare, complete with ink vomit and everything. With each passing moment we get to learn a new cool thing about the Dilophosaurus, and its little mating dance it performs when it is about to have a meal. It is the second kill of the whole Jurassic Park series, and one of the best! —Andy Elijah

Ankylosaurus is cool as hell because all armored up. I can’t remember if they have a canon appearance in any of the Jurassic films but they’re the best. —Jacob Harrington

Ducky from The Land Before Time. Yep yep yep, definitely Ducky. —Aaron Maninno

I’m going to go with King Koopa (played by Dennis Hopper) in the bizarre Super Mario Bros. (1993). It’s a campy little film, but I am very much down for a Dennis Hopper deep cut performance where he plays an evil dictator descended from a T-Rex in an alternate dimension. What up, Dinohattan?–Catherine Haas

Wait, no one has shown love for velociraptors yet?  How is that possible?  They’re “clever girls” that hunt in packs, they’re scary as hell, and they communicate via talon-tapping and terrifying, guttural calls out to their fellow raptors.  While T-Rex typically gets all the love, velociraptors were what truly sustained the suspense during the original Jurassic Park trilogy.

Honorable mention: Andy Serkis’ King Kong in Peter Jackson’s 2005 adaptation.  That T-Rex showdown sequence is truly an all-time cinematic achievement–

I’m backing up Jeff’s answers, as the raptors were probably the first thing in any film that I both liked and was afraid of. I’m a huge Jurassic Park fan, and the raptors are a huge part of that. But I also need to give some honorable mentions. First, the entirety of Super Mario Bros.which features an alternate dimension where humanoid life evolved from dinosaurs. Secondly, the T. Rex skeleton named Rexy from the Night at the Museum franchise. He’s a big puppy dog, and super adorable. —Ryan Silberstein

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie, so please correct me if I say something inaccurate, but the aurochs from Beasts of the Southern Wild have always been very striking to me. Yes, they are fantastical within the magical realist lens of the film, but what are prehistoric creatures, functionally, but flights of our current, non-extinct fancy?

In the text of the film, the aurochs emerge as a result of climate change, their icy prisons turned liquid by increasing global temperatures. When young Hushpuppy meets one face to face, what some would consider a threatening creature meets its match. Hushpuppy stands strong, as she has been doing since day one, surviving despite living amidst cruel, uncomfortable circumstances. It is at this moment that the young lady finds that the natural world is one of turbulence and indifference, but also one of beauty. Despite all of the chaos at play in the world, if one can stand their ground, look a threat in the eye, and still be capable of love, chaos can be our friend.

Plus, the aurochs look really really cool. —Dan Scully

The Paul Walker RoboT-Rex of Tammy and the T-Rex, wherein the Cretaceous creature successfully manages to use a payphone and goes steady with Denise Richards. Not too shabby.Dan Santelli

I would have been 6 years old when Jurassic Park came out, and I wasn’t allowed to see it (until I discovered my aunt owned the VHS and I convinced her my mom had given me permission). But everyone in school was talking about it, and I became dino crazy, trying to find a way to relate to all the cool kids whose parents took them to see it. I got my hands on all the Dinotopia books I could find in the local library, and I was constantly on the lookout for other Dinosaur movies in the video store. We rented, and eventually owned, the first 3 or 4 Land Before Time movies a lot, but cartoons for kids weren’t the level of dino action I had been told about on the playground and was looking for.

Then we got the Disney Channel and everything changed. In the early days of the Disney Channel, they played all kinds of movies made for children from the late 80’s and early 90’s, regardless of whether they were truly appropriate for children or any standards of quality. This was how I got to see things like the Not Quite Human trilogy, starring my favorite TV dad Alan Thicke, and the quite scary to me at the time Stepmonster, starring my favorite TV dad Alan Thicke. Eventually I stumbled upon two movies I haven’t see since, but have continued to think about over the years – Prehysteria and Adventures in Dinosaur City. These satiated my need for real dinosaurs interacting with real people for cheap thrills.

Prehysteria is about two kids that somehow get some dinosaur eggs that hatch super tiny versions of dinosaurs that were created through stop motion animation, which I became fascinated with and inspired me to start making my own stop motion films using Star Wars action figures.

Adventures in Dinosaur City is about three kids that accidentally send themselves to another dimension overrun by Dinosaurs that act like people, much like the televisions series Dinosaurs. If you’re not familiar, that means they used a combination of puppets and costumed performers to play these big, bulky, rubbery Dinosaurs that wore clothes, gambled at casinos, and insulted each other’s fashion. The trailer for this movie features the exceptionally radical and totally tubular line “the hippest dudes from the primordial ooze!” These movies really meant a lot to me as a kid, giving me the opportunity to feel included in all the Jurassic Park talk at school, but more importantly inspiring me to be creative and make my own movies for the first time. So what I’m saying is, my favorite cinematic dinosaur is the cheapest one I could’ve made myself with my mom’s household goods and some clay.–

My favorite has to be Rex from Toy Story. I also try out new roars in attempts to be fearsome, but just come off as annoying. However I am not voiced by Wallace Shawn.—Jenna Kuerzi

Author: Ryan Silberstein

Ryan spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area, and his nights as a mysterious caped vigilante saving his city from the disease that is crime watching movies. He lives on a diet consisting of film, comic books, experimental beer, black coffee, and those big metal historical markers around town. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.

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