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Ralph: Well, we did it.
Richard: Yeah, we did it... we brought civilization to Planet Nova.
The story is predicated on the notion that a new solar system has set up shop "a half-year's rocket flight away" from our own. A group of intrepid scientists turned space travelers -- "zoographer" Richard Gordon (Douglas Henderson), mineralogist Nora Pierce (Patti Gallagher), physician Ralph Martin (Bill Bryant) and chemist Patricia Bennett (Wanda Curtis) -- blast off (via stock footage of Germany's V-2 rocket) to explore the earth's new neighbors.
Upon landing on one of the planets (actually the mountains surrounding Los Angeles) the scientists confront all manner of outsized reptiles (courtesy of clips from One Million BC). When the planet's "dinosaurs" threaten our heroes, the huge lizards are dissipated by an atomic-bomb blast (more library footage). Having made the planet safe for colonization (?), the space travelers return to Earth.
King Dinosaur provides examples of:
- All Planets Are Earthlike: The only apparent difference is the bacteria.
- Chekhov's Gun: The atomic battery.
- Clothing Damage: Both Ralph and Nora get some of this in separate animal attacks; but Dick tops everyone when he has to tear his entire shirt off to make a tourniquet.
- Death by Sex: Subverted twice over, in that they don't die and they didn't even get to the sex -- but it's a close call on both counts.
- Everything's Worse with Bees: Especially giant, superimposed bees.
- Hard Work Montage
- It's All My Fault: Ralph's near death-by-croc comes as a side result of his and Pat's sneaking off to snog in the night. Pat is so distraught by this that she is unable to help patch him up afterward.
- Jerkass: Dick spends a lot of time pushing the women around -- literally. The bots call him out for this.
- Lizards Blowing Up
- Neutral Female: Invoked and enforced by Dick; when the ladies volunteer to share night watch duties, he quickly shoots the idea down.
- No Animals Were Harmed: Very clearly averted, particularly in the "iguana vs. crocodile" fight.
- No Kill Like Overkill: In order to outrun a giant iguana, the scientists... plant an atom bomb. Makes sense.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Not so much for their respective scientific fields per se (although the zoologist does a good job doctoring up the doctor), but rather the mission as a whole; note the rocket's complete and total lack of astronauts.
- Pseudo Crisis: Several:
- Ralph is attacked early on by a crocodile and injured badly; however, he's pretty much fully recovered within a few scenes (two days' time, in-story). After that, his weakened state becomes essentially an Informed Flaw.
- The giant bee; they simply shoot it dead -- although it did take a lot of shots.
- At one point, a snake slides and shimmeys across a sleeping Ralph's body while Dick looks on helplessly. After a minute, the snake gets bored and departs of its own volition.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: And not just the giant ones; Pat very nearly has a complete meltdown when a snake gets fresh.
- Screaming Woman: For cryin' out loud, Pat!
- Shirtless Scene: Dick needed to wrap a wound.
- Somewhere a Paleontologist Is Crying: Dick notes that the giant iguana is identical to the tyrannasaurus rex. Um... no?
- Stock Footage: Not unlike The Deadly Mantis (which would feature in Mystery Science Theater 3000 some years later), King Dinosaur opens with about ten minutes of stock footage. Unlike the latter, however, here the stock footage is actually relevant to the story at hand -- it details construction of the rocket which will take the scientists to Planet Nova.
- The stock footage also includes a callout to the atomic battery and its explosive potential.
- Title Drop
- ↑ to be completely fair, of course, lots of folk have strong snake phobias