Nate picked out today's movie, which he conscientiously made sure adhered to the guidelines we at MMT follow for selecting movies to ensure that you, the reader, have only the worst movie reviews to read. (Wait a minute, that didn't come out quite right. Oh, well...) According to him, it has an exceptional amount of polyester and hairspray, something which certainly qualifies it to be a prime candidate for MMT's attention. The movie is Planet of Dinosaurs, made in 1978. As is true of nearly all the movies MMT reviews, it was made on a small budget, so small that one of the actors claims she was never paid. As is true of nearly all the movies MMT reviews, the plot was apparently thrown together in 30 seconds and has holes big enough to drive an elephant through. As is true of nearly all the movies MMT reviews, the science is ludicrous, the actors are unknown for good reason, and the props came from the local dollar store, but there's one good thing about it: the dinosaurs are well-animated. I hope this is enough to persuade you to read the review, after Nate and I have gone through the agony of watching this movie.
The movie literally opens with a bang. A large spaceship is preparing to enter orbit around a planet, when a "runaway reactor" causes the spaceship to explode, or to be more accurate, it causes the spaceship to turn orange and vanish into thin air -- I told you the budget was limited. I could explain to you in depth about how a reactor that isn't failsafe is a very poor design, suggesting that this society isn't too bright when it comes to engineering, but since I bet nobody wants to hear a lot of engineering details, I won't. Anyway, the spaceship is now history. However, Captain Norsythe, who I assume was the commander of the spaceship, must be capable of teleportation, because no sooner has the word "Emergency" been spoken, he's in an escape shuttle preparing to leave the ship. What ever happened to the concept of the captain being the last person to abandon ship? I know the budget was limited, but would it have killed the filmmakers to show a brief sequence where the Captain orders "Abandon ship," then heads for the safety of the escape shuttle? The way it's filmed here, it looks as though the Captain skedaddled to safety, leaving his crew to their fate.
Earth-type water-based planet ahead!
We shortly see that the Captain has gotten away clean, along with a few other people who must have been able to run like the wind to make it to the shuttle. A pretty dark-haired woman named Nyla is in the seat next to the Captain, and from the way she's dressed, she's probably a crewmember. A quick check of the communications system shows that there are seven other people aboard, mostly members of the crew but two who seem to be passengers. One of the passengers is an overbearing man who says he's the vice-president of Spaceways, Incorporated, and the other is his secretary Derna, who appears to be in some distress. There's no clue as to what brought the spaceship to this planet in the first place. Is there a settlement of some sort there, and this ship is engaged in trading with it? Is this a mission of scientific exploration, or a military vessel? If so, what are passengers doing aboard?
Ah yes, rows and rows of unmarked switches and knobs, standard spaceship controls.
We'll have to wait a little while to learn who all these people are. However, based on appearances, all the male actors, and possibly the female ones too, sandwiched in their appearance in this movie between their day jobs in porn movies. To a man, they all sport some combination of thick moustaches, bushy hair, and long sideburns (and Nyla has a slight but noticeable moustache as well). Both the men and the women are wearing very tight clothing, and in the case of two of the crewwomen, short skirts with bare legs. Two of the crewmen wear skintight blue jumpsuits with a white V down the chest that points directly to their...er, a certain portion of their anatomies. I know it was 1978, but come on. Maybe they were porn actors, at that. They don't sound like total amateurs the way some B-movie actors do, but there's an air of improvisation about everything they say and do, and nobody has much in the way of acting credits outside of this movie. In fact, it might be that this movie, like Horrors of Spider Island, was originally designed to be a porn movie, what with the castaway theme and the mix of males and females. If so, we can be grateful that the filmmakers decided to make a science fiction movie instead, because I really don't want to see the actors naked. Especially not the scrawny Captain.
That's not HD quality.
But back to the action. The shuttle is having trouble fighting the planet's gravitational pull, which indicates that it also was poorly designed, since we'll see shortly that the new planet's gravity is approximately that of Earth. So they designed a shuttle that can't actually fly except on a low-gravity planet? The test trials on Earth must have been interesting. Because the shuttle can barely fly, they can't choose their landing spot, and the spot on which the shuttle eventually lands isn't the best, because it's in the middle of a lake. The shuttle is sinking fast, and they all push and shove to get out before it goes under. They all manage to swim to shore. From the complete lack of discipline shown during this, I assume that the spaceship wasn't a military vessel, but even if this was a merchant crew or a scientific expedition, the Captain should have some authority over them. However, as we'll see, nobody ever pays much attention to him. In fact, they complain and quarrel just like -- well, like a bunch of actors stranded unexpectedly in the middle of nowhere. The bitchfest leaves us none the wiser as to what the spaceship was doing there, since it appears that nobody, including the Captain, has a clue about what this planet is like. I went back to the beginning to check, but it was clear that the ship had arrived at the planet and was preparing to enter orbit before the emergency arose, so it must have come there for a reason. I'll give the movie credit here, all the actors look appropriately wet and exhausted as they rest on shore, but I think it was probably because there was no money for stuntmen and the actors had to make the swim for real, then weren't given time to rest. In fact, as we'll see, there's a very naturalistic flavor to the action and dialogue throughout the movie. I suspect that not only did the actors perform most of the stunts, they also improvised a lot of their dialogue, too.
Best matte in the entire movie.
Almost immediately a problem arises. The blonde female communications officer, who has such a deep voice that at first I thought she might be a guy with long hair, forgot the emergency radio and volunteers to swim back to get it. She strips off her miniskirted uniform to do this, showing us that despite her voice, she's clearly a girl, and the casual way she does this gives further proof to my guess that this was originally meant to be a porn movie. Fellow crewmember Chuck offers to go along with her, which is a good thing, because the poor girl doesn't make it. Something grabs her and pulls her under, leaving only a red stain on the water. Chuck turns around and heads for shore, minus the radio but making it back okay. The survivors all decide that it would be a good idea to move away from the water onto higher ground, where they hope they'll be safer. They managed to salvage four laser rifles from the shuttle as they were piling out, so they hope they'll be able to fight off anything that comes at them. The Captain finally tries to show a little authority, but it comes off more like a ten-year-old trying to organize a softball game. It doesn't help that the actor who plays the Captain blows a line during this.
Alas, she's not long for this world.
They start off through the woods, along a wide trail that just happens to be there. If this is an uninhabited planet, which it seems to be, they ought to be worrying about meeting whatever made such a wide trail, but this thought seems not to have occurred to anybody as they stroll along as nonchalantly as though they're walking through a neighborhood park. Derna, who appears to be the nervous sort anyway, does show some anxiety when she refuses to wade through a long stretch of knee-deep water. One of the crewmen thinks the best way to encourage her to go on is to hand her the laser rifle he's been carrying and show her how press a button and kill anything that scares her. Derna is wearing a low-cut top and a midriff-baring (actually more like belly-baring) pair of bell-bottoms, which may be why he's so accommodating. I have the feeling that the vice-president of Spaceways, Inc. didn't hire her for her typing skills. Neither the Captain nor anybody else in the crew seems to feel bothered that this guy, whose name hasn't been mentioned, took it upon himself to hand off one of their limited number of weapons to somebody who doesn't know how to use it and seems very unstable to boot.
Is he an NRA instructor? I think not.
The castaways stumble along unsteadily as they wade gingerly through the knee-deep water, another bit of realism I'm sure was due to the actors being taken to some water and told to make their way through it as best they could. It seems Derna was right to be nervous, because something grabs her and nearly pulls her under. Derna and her crewman friend were at the end of the line, and it seems odd that nobody in front saw any sign of something big enough to pull down an adult woman, considering the water isn't very deep. However, her friend gets Derna away from whatever-it-is and carries her to shore. A black-bearded crewman, who earlier was addressed as "Jim," picks up the rifle, casually shaking water out of it as he does, which seems to be enough to make sure it's still functional since he tells the Captain it's okay. The Captain finally notices that Derna (who has been only a short distance behind him all this time) has the crewman's rifle and chews the crewman out, calling Derna a "civilian" as he does. So this is a military crew? I can't believe it. The Captain's reprimand sounds nothing like a military officer reprimanding a subordinate who's made a mistake and everything like a high-schooler fuming at the classmate who screwed up the project they were working on. Besides his unfortunate manner, the Captain is on the runty side and his moustache is scraggly, two things that don't help him project an air of authority.
Watch out for the VC!
After the business of the rifle has been settled, our gallant band continues. However, before too long, a near-mutiny erupts as some of the crewmembers refuse to go any farther. "Whining like children" is the expression that best describes their behavior. Again: this is a military crew? The Captain takes a stab at making them go on, but they're adamant, and Jim talks the Captain into letting them camp there. I can't tell if it's supposed to be night. I see blue sky between the trees, but it's so dark you can barely see the actors. I guess it's supposed to be night, but instead of even using day-to-night filters, they just didn't use any lights under the trees.
It would help if they had subtitles.
While they're all resting, the Captain and Nyla take stock of what they were able to get out of the shuttle. Besides the rifles, they have some food, and -- oh, how lucky -- some signaling mirrors! Nyla and the Captain act as though the signaling mirrors are the key to rescue, but the mirrors themselves look like the small mirrors you can buy at any drugstore. Are they planning to signal passing spacecraft with them, I wonder? Or are there inhabitants somewhere on the planet, and they're going to signal them with the mirrors? If so, I'm afraid their confidence is sadly misplaced. No, my mistake, it turns out they're for scout parties to communicate with each other, and I reluctantly admit they might be good for that. The Captain does his image of authority even more damage when he whines a little more that he was never trained to do this kind of thing.
The vice-president of Spaceways, Inc, who is named Harvey Bayler, suggests heading for the nearest inhabited area, which makes sense, except that as Jim points out, they're miles from any such thing, "if there is any," he adds ominously. So they really don't know anything about the planet, to which I again ask, What were they doing there in the first place? Their discussion is interrupted by a loud roar, which one of the crewmen interprets as a hunting cry, based on his experience in Africa. They deduce reasonably that the animal who made it must be both hungry and very large.
Wow, 1978 much?
After hearing the hunting cry, you would think they'd all be too nervous to sleep, especially the bundle-of-nerves Derna, but not so. The next day dawns with them all sound asleep, with the Captain's head pillowed on a metal survival box. I guess he's tougher than his whininess would suggest. Jim awakens the Captain with the glad tidings that there's something big near the camp, and he isn't kidding. It's a brontosaurus, munching on leaves from a nearby tree, which convinces even the weariest of the bunch that it would be a good idea to depart elsewhere. I must admit that the animation is not bad, much better than most of the dinosaur animation in The People That Time Forgot, for instance, although the acting was much better in that movie. (When they move off, I notice that one of the rifles seems to have gone missing. Jim has one, Nyla has one, and the crewman who gave his to Derna has it back, but nobody seems to be carrying the fourth one. A quick look back to an earlier part of the movie shows that the Captain was carrying it when they were all wading through the water, but by the time the crewman carried Derna to shore, there was no sign of it.) As they stumble, gripe, and complain their way out of the forested area onto a hilly desert and (hopefully) to safety, I turn the review over to Nate.
First of many well-realized dinosaur effects.
Thanks, Pam, I'll run with this one a while, give you time to recover. So, yes, so far this movie is hit-or-miss, some fairly good visuals (the dinosaurs and the escape pod sinking) and inklings of some better-than-expected writing, but way too much "padding out" of scenes, which is never a good sign. For example, when the party wants to climb up a gentle rocky slope to a plateau, we follow their unremarkably boring hike almost in real-time, an unwelcome break from the action that really drags the movie down. This is another movie that would probably have been better if trimmed down to fit an hour time-slot television series like The Outer Limits or the like.
Oh so boring...
The cast is also way too large and unwieldy for a full 90 minute movie, so it's fine by me when they start to thin it out a bit over the middle act. Smarmy Corporate Stooge Guy has so far been the most interesting (and certainly the most fleshed-out) character so far and while surely we're supposed to sneer and jeer at him because he's the very embodiment of the Evil Military Industrial Complex (1978, remember), he's also given all the funny lines and physical comedy bits. He comes across more as a bumbling buffoon than anything truly devious or evil, and it's even kinda cute how he reacts when his sexy secretary/lover Derna quits/dumps him. So it's less than satisfying when he's killed by an attacking dinosaur, especially since he died defending one of the other helpless girls. Impaled on a Stegosaurus' nasal horn and tossed off a cliff to die a painful bleeding-out dead in the dirt below, the poor guy at least gets a nice drawn-out death rattle. The bloodiness of the scene also surprised me, so far it has been pretty much a PG-13 rated movie.
The lasers, they do nothing!
Even though people are dying and beasties are growling, this movie did surprise me somewhat, even though my standards are quite low by this point. I was expecting an early version of the "last man standing" slasher movie format, where the dinosaurs would whittle down the cast to the handsomest man and prettiest girl by the final reel. And, in a way, this happens (spoilers!) but along the way we have a really good examination of "survival power politics" worthy of the best/worst reality TV show. On one side we have the intellectual, think-it-through, overly-cautious Captain Lee and his band of (fairly) loyal officers who want to stick to the "defensive approach" to survival. They strive to find a location to hunker down and await rescue, building stockades and punji traps and generally hoping to remain unnoticed by the bigger, badder meat-eaters in the neighborhood.
The Captain just wants to keep them all alive.
On the other side is the hairsuit and militant Jim, who, along with his few (but growing) followers, espouses a more "offensive approach" to survival on this hostile planet. Jim is of the opinion that the only way to make it is to do like the cavemen did and "tame the savage beasts at the point of a spear". He doesn't like the idea of living in constant fear of some rampaging beast plowing through the paper-thin defenses of the camp and wants to take the fight to the dinosaurs' lair to end the threat once and for all. While he follows the Captain's orders (grudgingly) he's more and more willing to publicly debate his superior about survival plans. A break is surely coming and it will be jagged.
Jim and his phallic rifle want to kill everything that moves.
Between these two polar opposites and their core backers are a few guys and girls (mostly girls) who waver in the breeze depending on who seems to have the strongest argument at any given minute. There are several times when people on either side of the fence try and influence others to switch sides, using every argument from "he's the boss!" to "he's got the best facial hair!". If Jim is doing anything wrong in his stab-first approach it's that he seems to be trying hardest to recruit the frail, wishy-washy women to his side. While that's fine and all (and the statuesque Pocahontas-lookalike Derna in particular is quite fine...) who he should be trying hardest to win over are Perpetually-shirtless Guy and Bruce Jenner's Clone. If he's going to defeat the dinosaurs at their own game like he wants, then Jim's going to need some strong backs and bulging biceps. He also can't help but notice (as do we) that the guys in the group are just as, if not more, undecided on who to follow and he needs to lock down their support. Maybe he can take them out to a Redskins game and then to a Hooters for drinks afterwards, build some "guy bonds".
Is that gay porn star Jack Wrangler?
The stress getting to them, they all get roaring shitfaced on homebrewed hootch and the ladies start to pair off with some of the guys. Shirtless Beefstake Dude and 1970s Jumpsuit Guy get their share of longing looks and sits-close-bys from the girls, who have maybe figured out that they better get their dibs in early. Even gruff, unapproachable Jim catches the meekish Nyla's eye, which makes no sense for her. I guess you gotta think about propagating the species if rescue never comes.
Oh my, love is in the air.
Because of this increased closeness (or perhaps in spite of it), the team starts to work together to hunt some of the smaller dinosaur species for food. These are some pretty effective scenes and it's pretty cool to see modern humans hunt prehistoric dinosaurs with primitive bows and pikes. In a short time they figure out a way to feed themselves and they can finally answer that age-old paleontology question, "Does dinosaur taste like chicken?".
Goes well with a nice light mushroom sauce.
And there are a lot of dinosaurs running around for them to hunt. This film won awards for the quality of the stop-motion dinosaurs, and I'll admit they are nicely done for the budget (for any budget, really). The long-standing knock on stop-motion has always been the "herky jerky" movements inherent with the technique, and while there's a lot of that on display here, there are also several lengthy sequences where the beasts move with a surprising amount of grace and fluidity. Some of the quadrupeds are great, moving with almost seamless frame-rates, but a couple of the smaller bipeds are just horrible, walking like geriatric epileptics in an earthquake. I'm curious why some sequences are clearly done better than others, perhaps that shows which scenes were rushed to meet production deadlines.
I have to add a special note for the stop-motion cocker spaniel-sized spider that menaces Nyla in one scene. The model work on the spider (which is only on-screen for about five seconds) is exceptionally smooth and the neat way they blend footage of the girl and the spider together for a brief shot is the highlight of the movie for me. Negative points, however, for the hyperventilating actress screaming like a little girl at the sight of the spider (no stereotyping there...).
Are there similarly sized mosquitoes?
The scenery also deserves some mention, if for no other reason than you've all seen it before. This "distant planet" is rocky and barren, which is fine in itself, even if you wonder if there's enough vegetation to support all those mega-size herbavores. The problem is that they chose to film this movie in the famous Valesquez Rocks Natural Area just north of Los Angeles. This State Park, with its instantly recognizable sandstone formations, has been used by movie productions for a hundred years (most memorably in several Star Trek episodes). While that's ok, when you're watching Planet of Dinosaurs and you see a familiar California landmark, you can't help but be "pulled out of the movie", which is the very last thing you want your audience to do. There are a lot of other areas in SoCal that have rocky formations and cheap public-use permits, I really wish they had picked somewhere else other than the exact spot where Kirk fought the Gorn.
Our cast mills around.
As Pam warned us, the spoken dialogue is indeed on par with a third-rate dinner theater at an airport Motel 8 in Sheboygan, but some of that might be more the actors' fault than the script. Easily 99.5% of this movie's scenes are medium-range exteriors and all the dialogue is dubbed in post (hard to have boom mics while filming on the side of a windy mountain). The quality of the ADR dub varies drastically from character to character. Some of them, such as Captain Lee and most of the girls, are fairly well done, you can tell the actors/actresses were really trying to match their line-reads to the emotions and energy on-screen. Others, though, most especially the comatose corpse reading Big Hairy Jim's lines and whichever urine-soaked homeless bag lady they pulled in from the alley to read for that one girl who got munched by the lake monster, had clearly given up by the time the ADR process began. If the rumors of payroll difficulties are to be believed, you can imagine some of the actors/actresses weren't in the best of moods to give quality line-reads when they were wondering if they were going to be paid in pot and pizza instead of dollars.
The Captain and Nyla share a quite moment before the storm.
Anyway, so our intrepid band of spaceshipwrecked survivors is currently holed up on an isolated rocky plateau in an improvised campsite. Tensions are high, food is bland and dry, casualties have been heavy, and the power schism between the Captain and Jim has left the group teetering on the edge. To make matters worse, there is an alpha-predator in the area, a giant toothy therapod T-Rex that feasts on all the lesser dinosaurs. This beast seems impossible to deal with directly and all agree that it's just a matter of time before it finds their campsite and uses them for breath fresheners. Pam, how do our humans intend to deal with this top-of-the-food-chain T-Rex?
Rexie seems to have some problems with his jaw.
Whatever they're going to do, Nate, it'll have to be something a handful of people can manage. Out of the original nine castaways, casualties so far include Cindy, the deep-voiced girl who was eaten almost immediately, the obnoxious Mr. Bayler, and Derna, the main reason a lot of men watched this movie. This leaves four men: the Captain, Jim, Chuck, and Mike, the thin man with a moustache who's been chumming with Derna. We also have two women remaining, Nyla and Charlotte, a dark-haired woman in a blue minidress. Charlotte conveniently is a nurse, and I'm betting she's going to survive all the way through the movie.
Our merry band.
But considering their limited resources, the plan they come up with seems reasonable. We've seen that the laser rifles don't work that well against the larger dinosaurs, so that leaves sharpened sticks and rocks. Not what I'd pick if I had to take on a T-Rex, but you work with what you've got. And as it happens, they've got some big sticks and rocks. Even better, they found a plant with poisonous berries. The Captain wants to put the berries on a dead animal, which will be left temptingly outside of the T-Rex's lair. Jim, however, favors a more macho approach and wants to attack the beast directly, fearing that the smell of the berries might warn the T-Rex off. The Captain wins the argument, though, and he, Jim, and Chuck set off to kill a smaller dinosaur for bait.
Metaphorically crossing spears in disagreement.
They pick a smallish stegosaurus, about the same height as a man, and after a few feints, Jim clubs it with his stone club. It goes down with one blow and stays down, which goes to show what an awesome guy Jim is. (The stop-motion of the stegosaurus appears to have been filmed in front of a projection of Jim hitting at the air.) Meanwhile, Mike, Nyla, and Charlotte are picking the poisonous berries. And finally the signal mirror comes in handy! The Captain uses it to signal to the berry party. Good thing signal mirrors were included in the survival gear, I'm sure a shiny metal object wouldn't have worked nearly as well.
More familiar rock formations to distract the audience.
As per the plan, the stegosaurus carcass is doctored with the berries, and they are carrying it toward the T-Rex's cave when he gets the jump on them. Yes, he sneaked up behind them. I have no idea how a creature that size could walk quietly enough to sneak up on six adults, but this must be one exceptional dinosaur. They take off running, but poor Mike trips, and the T-Rex gets him. And then there were five.
A quarter of your viable breeding pairs just died.
Now what? By an unspoken agreement, they proceed to put Jim's plan into action, although in fact the Captain's plan didn't actually fail. However, they abandon the stegosaurus and start cutting and sharpening large stakes. The stakes will be smeared with the poisonous juice and set up in front of the T-Rex's lair (he's inside eating Mike), then the dinosaur will be lured out and hopefully impaled on the stakes. The Captain takes his sweet time objecting, but after they've cut and sharpened a bunch of stakes, using stones as tools, just as they're beginning to put the stakes in place, he tries to talk the others into retreating to another valley. Jim takes vehement exception to the Captain's idea, which he thinks will lead them into an area that's just as dangerous as the area they're already in, but a roar from the T-Rex breaks up the argument. The Captain runs away with the T-Rex in hot pursuit, and the handy-dandy signal mirror gets a little more use when the Captain flashes light into the dinosaur's eye to attract its attention. The pair end up near a smaller dinosaur, which the T-Rex carries back to its cave for another snack.
Ah, where's the disco ball.
Outside the cave, the Captain seems to have decided he'd better get with the program. He helps them finish setting up the stakes, then joins in as they start yelling to attract the T-Rex's attention. The dinosaur obligingly comes out and charges them. The castaways run toward the stakes, the T-Rex follows, and he impales himself. The stake either hits a vital organ, or the poison was exceptionally potent, because the T-Rex dies almost immediately, with no other problem except that his collapse nearly crushes Jim. However, Jim survives and appears to be unhurt when they pull him out from under the dinosaur.
Ouch, let's hope his HMO will cover that.
Fast-forward a few years. Life on this new planet has been good to them, it seems. They're all dressed in skins, the Captain has grown a beard, Jim's hair and beard have a lot of gray in them, and Charlotte has a boy who looks to be about two years old. (However, one of them must be an expert hairstylist, because everybody's hair is still carefully coiffed.) We know the child is a boy, because we get a couple of brief shots of full-frontal nudity. I'm surprised this was allowed to be shown on screen in 1978, even though he's at some distance from the camera, and each shot lasts only a second. They have a house made out of stone, very neatly put together. I wonder who the stonemason was? They obviously haven't been rescued, but they don't care anymore.
He's going to get a sunburn.
We already saw that Nyla and Jim were interested in each other, and Chuck and Charlotte seem to be a couple. I wonder how the Captain fits into this? So everything is peachy, at least until somebody gets an infected wound, develops pneumonia, or in the case of the women, has pregnancy complications and needs a C-section. Also, three men and two women seem too small a breeding stock to produce a healthy population, even assuming they're all okay with the women rotating among the men. If this is happening, the movie remains bashfully silent.
Hope it doesn't flood much.
This movie really isn't too bad. It's your standard castaways-make-a-new-life-for-themselves-in-a-strange-place. You've probably seen it in other science-fiction movies, and in castaway movies set on Earth. About the only real surprise is seeing how many of the castaways get killed, even after we get to know them, so it creates a little suspense as we wonder who's going to be next. And I realize I'm damning with faint praise here, but the actors weren't too bad. As Nate pointed out, some of them cared and some obviously didn't when they dubbed their dialogue post-production, but even so, they were at least minimally competent. When you watch as many bad movies as we here at MMT do, your standards shrink drastically and you cheer at anything above abysmally awful.
Any parting words, Nate?
Thanks, Pam. Well, first off, I'm wondering how they are planning on surviving on this "planet of dinosaurs" when they don't seem to have really improved their situation much in the last 3 years. That stone house is nice, but is it really going to keep a hungry T-Rex out? Especially since they built it in a flatland area that just screams "eat me and my children"? And rest assured, that one bigass T-Rex they killed before surely wasn't the only one around. Simple logic says there must be hundreds, if not thousands, of big meat-eaters running around still, how many of those are you going to be able to kill with poisoned sticks before one gets inside your defenses and has you for lunch? Though, to borrow a theme from Jurassic Park, it's not the big, relatively-slow T-Rexes you really have to worry about, it's the lightning-fast pack-hunting Raptor-type carnivores that will end up getting you in the end. We've already seen that the niches between T-Rexes and humans are filled with all sorts of smaller meat-eaters who can outrun and outbite any human, and you can't always have your guard up, you know.
And while that stone house is nice, if I was in charge there I'd be focusing on one single all-important goal, to recover that escape ship from the lake. From the visuals it was pretty big, wide-body 747 size, and surely full of all sorts of invaluable technology and materials, even if it never flies again. Yes, water surely got inside and ruined some stuff, but there has to been enough protected from the elements to make it worth the effort. From the scenes of it sinking, it came down in a shallow lake or an inland sea (surely not in an ocean if you look carefully at the surrounding landscape and the wave patterns), so it's possible to reach it with the manpower and materials they currently have. Whatever it takes to get to that ship needs to be Job One, it's the only way they are going to survive long-term on this planet. You could hope to use the engines and power systems to build an electrical grid, you could use the materials for buildings and structures, you could mine the holds and compartments for all sorts of things that would dramatically improve your situation. If it's a lake, dam and drain that sucker, if it's a seashore, put everything you have into building a cofferdam and some shark cages. You simply have to succeed, there is no other hope, no matter how many sharpened sticks and charcoal firepits you build.
Oh, and you might want to hold out hope that this "dinosaur planet" has a hidden native population of cave girl babes. You are going to need to propagate the species, you know...