Pterodactyl (2005)
Pterodactyl (2005)

Genre: Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 29 min.

Release Date: August 27th, 2005 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Mark L. Lester Actors: Cameron Daddo, Coolio, Amy Sloan, Mircea Monroe, Jessica Ferrarone, George Calil, Ivo Cutzarida, Steve Braun, Danna Lee

 


 

C

opying the hatching scene from “Jurassic Park,” “Pterodactyl” begins with a trio of eggs, slowly cracking apart, with a stiff, rubbery puppet peeking through the first shell. Two months later, in Northern Turkey, three hunters are attacked by a full-grown dinosaur bird (one of the men is cut in half by the swooping creature) – just a single specimen from a thriving swarm of oversized predators. Fortunately, most of the people who wander about the area are bandits or other undesirables.

Thanks to an earthquake that opened up a long dormant volcano, a team of naive scientists (and student interns) will get to study the insides of the prehistoric cavern (disregarding, of course, the State Department’s warnings about the hostile rebel activities). As it so happens, this volcano is the source of the pterodactyl eggs – the new base of operations for the monstrous creatures. Deploying from Dogubayazit, on the Turkish/Armenian border, the adventurers hope to discover valuable fossils and relics. The leader is paleontologist Michael Lovecraft (Cameron Daddo); his second-in-command is Kate Heinlein (Amy Sloan); and the blonde bimbo with jiggling breasts is Angie Lem (Mircea Monroe), whose father is financing the expedition. Other characters feature names like Bradbury, Burroughs, and Zelazny, which suggests that writer Mark Sevi is either a fan of famous sci-fi authors, or merely looked up a list before penning the script.

“You move and I’ll blow your nutsack off!” The dialogue, sadly, doesn’t bother to nod to – or simply steal from – notable works, resorting instead to tragically immature, uninspired prattling and spatting. It’s almost as if all of the conversations were written to be comic relief – except that the screenwriter doesn’t have a sense of humor. To counteract this, Monroe takes off her clothes, refusing to wear anything concealing even after she’s traumatized by a pterodactyl attack. Inexplicably, there’s also a subplot involving U.S. Army Special Forces (led by none other than acting aficionado Coolio) hunting for insurgents in the same stretch of woods. Conveniently, they have an unlimited supply of ammo, which comes in handy when the dinosaurs inevitably come to feast.

“This is so incredibly boring,” bellyaches Angie, vocalizing a line that should never appear in a film that could so easily have those words redirected towards itself. Strangely, the story might have been more palatable if the titular monsters were removed altogether. The military operation constitutes enough plot to fill a made-for-TV movie, especially when the rebels attempt to kidnap the researchers. The dinosaurs really only introduce visual shoddiness, as the budget for special effects is clearly too low for anything even moderately convincing. Practical shots, including those of mutilated corpses (and a still-alive soldier that baby pterosaurs nibble at for most of a day) and close-ups of the pterodactyls’ head and feet, are slightly better, though they’re used too scarcely to be amusing.

But it hardly matters; the acting, the cinematography, the sound mixing, and even the action choreography are equally as pathetic. When so many pitiful techniques and ideas are used all at once, the end result has little chance at success. “Pterodactyl” isn’t even accidentally funny – or so bad that it’s good. And, quite unexpectedly, Coolio is the best actor in the picture – by a landslide.

– Mike Massie

  • 1/10