Wednesday, September 30, 2020

MASSACRE IN DINOSAUR VALLEY (1985) (Severin Films Blu-ray Review)


Label: Severin Films
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 89 Minutes 
Audio: English & Italian 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Michele Massimo Tarantini
Cast:  Michael Sopkiw, Suzane Carvalho, Milton Rodríguez, Pedro Ibañez, Marta Anderson

The Italian-made action/adventure flick Massacre In Dinosaur Valley (1985) is a movie I have long heard about in seedy film circles but it always seemed to somehow elude me till now. In it we have a bone-collector named Kevin Hall (Michael Sopkiw, Killer Fish) who at the start of the film emerges from the Brazilian jungle with a wooden crate full of fossilized dinosaur bones, and is being driven into the nearest village in the back of a banana truck. It's a fun introduction to the character, immediately setting him up as a cocksure adventurer with the charm of a drunk Indiana Jones and the fool-hardy bravado of Ash from the Evil Dead 2. He checks into the local hotel he meets a paleontologist named Professor Pedro Ibañez (Leonid Bayer, The Claudia Case) and his hot-stuff daughter Eva (Susane Carvall, Jailbreakin' Women), as well as a stubborn 'Nam vet named Captain John Heinz (Milton Rodriguez, Cyclone) and his machismo-eroding wife Betty (Marta Anderson, Bare Behind Bars). That night the hotel hosts what seems to be a semi-regular cock-fight right there in the dang lobby, during which we meet more characters by way of a photographer and his lovely nudie magazine models, as well as the wine-loving pilot of a charter plane. 

As the night rolls along drinks are consumed and Kevin attempts to save one of the models from a hands-on creepy local, only to be accosted by that man's beefy siblings who handily wipe the floor with the sub-standard adventurer. The next day he manages to hitch a ride aboard the charter plane along with the professor and his daughter, the 'Nam vet and his wife, the fashion photographer and his models, all of who are headed to the cursed Dinosaur Valley for various reason. During the flight the plane encounters engine trouble and they end up crash landing into the wilds of the jungle, during which the pilot, the professor and one of the models are killed. The survivors band together and embark on a journey out of the jungle but along the way Kevin butts heads with 'Nam vet John who thinks he should be in charge of the impromptu
expedition. While footing through the jungle the photographer
has his leg gnawed on by hungry piranha while crossing a river, Kevin is nearly eaten by crocodiles, and bad-mouthed Betty gets sucked on by some gnarly leeches and then gets stuck in some quicksand. 

Dinosaur Valley proves to be a treacherous place indeed, and things get even worse when the group encounter a tribe of flesh-eating cannibals who take several of them prisoner.  Back at the tribal village the women are stripped nude and prepared for a ritual sacrifice, with the high-priest setting off smoke bombs and donning a fossilized Styracosaurus skull and a cape for dramatic effects as well as a goofy reptilian clawed-glove he uses to slash open one of the women's titties and then collecting the blood from the wound in a human skull, but our adventurer brings things to halt with his boom-stick, alllowing for he and the women escape down river inside a canoe. 

When they get down river a safe distance from the tribe they come back to shore and have an unsavory encounter with a slaver who cages the women and ties Kevin to a stake in the ground in a pig-pit, which leads to a bit of women-in-prison type shenanigans of the The Big Bird Cage variety with some rapey stuff. Sadly there are no actual living dinosaurs in the flick, I was hoping there would be with a title like Massacre In Dinosaur Valley, but it never happened. However, all is not lost, the cheeseball action-adventure flick is solidly entertaining and ripe with pervy up-skirt shots, wet t-shirts and straight up nudity, with a just smidgeon of gore.  Add to that leading man Michael Sopkiw is totally fun as the cocksure but foolish adventurer, not unlike Indiana Jones if he was played by Evil Dead 2 era Bruce Campbell. 

Audio/Video: Massacre In Dinosaur Valley (1985) arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Severin Films in 1080p HD framed in the original 1.85:1 widescreen. The source for the new HD master is a fresh 4K scan of the original uncut camera negative, and it looks fantastic. It's got plenty of natural-looking grain throughout with only some very minor blemishing by way of white speckling and faint scratches that are only visible if you're straining to spot them, but overall this is a crisp and natural looking presentation with solid color saturation. It's a fairly earth tone presentation with lots of of subdued browns but the green of the surrounding jungle canopy and other primaries get a nice push when called upon. Audio comes by way of both Italian and English DTS-HD MA  2.0 mono with optional English subtitles. It's a well-balanced  presentation without any issues with undue hiss and distortion, dialogue is always intelligible

Extras begin with the 23-minute 'Valley Boy', an interview with actor Michael Sopkiw (Blastfighter) who speaks of setting his sights on acting after he was sprung from, initially getting work as a model before being offered a gig in Italy and signing a four picture deal with Sergio Martino's production company, after getting permission from his parole officer to leave the country. He's a charming guy who tells some great stories about his time in Italy and making the film, his opinions on the film, what it was like working with the cast, and watching the movie with his wife years later, covering her eyes during the scene where he beds a Brazilian beauty. 

Next up is the 14-minute 'Lost in Brazil' an interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti (The Beyond), the Italian cinema legend is affable as ever, now a kindly looking grandfather sort who gets into the origin of the story and what it was like working with producer Luciano Martino and director Michele Massimo Tarantini. He also touches on the director's way of working and what didn't make it into the final film that was in the original script. 

Extras are finished up with 9-minute of deleted scenes that don't add up to a whole lot, particularly without the benefit of an audio track. We also get the 2-minute theatrical trailer for the film, and the alternate Italian language title credit under the title Nudo e Selvaggio (Nude & Savage). The single-disc release arrives in a black keepcase with a reversible sleeve of artwork, both sides featuring cool-looking illustrations with the Blu-ray disc itself featuring a variation on one of those artworks. 

Special Features:
- Valley Boy – Interview with Actor Michael Sopkiw (23 min) 
- Lost in Brazil – Interview with Co-Writer Dardano Sacchetti (14 min) 
- Deleted and Extended Scenes Reel (9 min) 
- Trailer (2 min) 
- Italian credits (4 min) 
- Sleeve of Reversible Artwork 

Massacre In Dinosaur Valley
(1985) is an entertaining action-adventure jungle flick, and while it does get a bit corny at times but it also never dives headfirst into the extreme Italian cannibal stuff like the stomach-churning gore and unsavory animal cruelty - though there is a bit of cockfighting - it keeps things light and upbeat with a streak of humor, and that's what I love about it. Severin's Blu-ray presentation is technically strong and has some solid extras, if you're a fan of Italian exploitation or cheesy jungle adventure flicks this is definitely gonna be in your wheelhouse.  

More screenshots from the Blu-ray: