“God creates dinosaurs, God kills dinosaurs, God creates man, man kills God, man brings back dinosaurs.” Those are the words of Michael Crichton, from his blockbuster 1990 novel Jurassic Park, and they would prove to be spot-on. From the dawn of movies, filmmakers have been obsessed with bringing dinosaurs back from the dead, whether with wire and clay or computer pixels. Before you catch IFC’s Jurassic Park movie marathon, check out this list of the best big screen dinos that’s 65 million years in the making.
10. Indominus Rex, Jurassic World
Much like the movie itself, which picked over the bones of past Jurassic Park films to create something new, Indominus Rex was something of a Frankenstein monster, combining elements of everything from Tyrannosauruses and Velociraptors to Tree Frogs and Viper Snakes. What resulted was the first genetically modified dinosaur in the franchise’s history, a hybrid that was intended to be the most kick-ass creature we’d ever seen. While “Indominus Got Next” couldn’t make us forget the thrills the franchise had once delivered, it did help Jurassic World become the third highest grossing movie ever…well, until a dinosaur of ’70s cinema called Star Wars reared its head once again.
9. King Koopa, Super Mario Bros.
Nintendo was still new to the movie world when they signed away the film rights to their video game hit Super Mario Bros., leading to a dystopian nightmare of a movie that owed more to Blade Runner than Donkey Kong. The push and pull between dark, adult fair and cartoon nonsense is right there on the screen, right down to a truly bizarre performance from Dennis Hopper. (As if there’s any other kind.) Playing King Koopa, a T.rex descendant who rules over an alternate dimension called Dinohattan with an iron fist, the actor goes full Hopper here, helping turn this crap-tastic movie into a camp classic.
8. Dimetrodon, Journey to the Center of the Earth
While the 2008 remake may have had bigger thrills (and a hunk-splosion in the form of Brendan Fraser), the 1959 original Journey to the Center of the Earth takes the cake for one reason: iguanas playing dinosaurs. (Iguanas! With weird appliances glued onto their backs!) Between actor Clifton Webb falling ill and having to be replaced, and Arlene Dahl passing out after screaming for her life during a difficult stunt, this movie seems like it was a bit of a disaster. But nothing can beat the awe-inspiring sight of a pet shop lizard with a green fin glued onto its spine.
7. Allosaurus, The Lost World
This 1925 silent adventure film, based on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story, was the first movie about dinosaurs ever made. Full of effects and thrills that were unheard of at the time, it paved the way for classics such as King Kong, which wouldn’t be made for another eight years. While Brute Force, made in 1914, was the first movie to feature a dinosaur, this was the first movie to have them be the driving part of the story, and do battle with each other. And if we have to pick just one favorite, we’ll go with the feisty Allosaurus who seems to pick fights with any dinosaur it comes across.
6. Grimlock, Transformers: Age of Extinction
Moving up the list, it was inevitable that we’d find our way to robot dinosaurs. That’s just common sense. While the dignified dinos above could all kick some serious ass, none could transform into a 40-foot tall centurion, complete with an Energon sword used to create maximum carnage. Sure, the Transformer film franchise might not be great art, but this is a robot dinosaur people! It can shoot fire out of its mouth! It would be irresponsible to rank it any lower than 6th on this list.
5. T. Rex, Caveman
When the T. Rex in this 1981 Ringo Starr camp classic ate a magical fruit that worked just like cannabis, he became ravenous. Hey, we’ve all been there. That led to the inevitable question: if you were seriously stoned, which member of The Beatles would you eat? While the movie has been much derided over the years, how many dinosaurs can claim to have hung with one of the Fab Four?
4. Dino, The Flintstones
Arguably the most famous dinosaur in the history of pop culture, this CGI version of The Flintstone’s dino-pooch did a decent job of capturing the original Hanna-Barbera magic. For anyone who’s ever had a beloved pet, they can relate to the special relationship Dino shares with his family. Sure, he may be single-handedly responsible for the glut of misinformation that’s out there about human and dinosaur cohabitation. But who could resist those slobbery kisses when coming home from a long day at the Slate Rock and Gravel Company?
3. Littlefoot, The Land Before Time
Poor Loveable Littlefoot, a young Brontosaurus who lost his mother, and had to rely on his friends to help him make it to the “Great Valley” before all of the dinosaurs went extinct. A heartbreaking children’s movie from the minds of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, this animated classic was Bambi for kids of the ’80s. We grew up with Littlefoot, who would go on to front 13 different movies and a TV series. Sure, not all were classics, but we’ll always remember Littefoot’s mother telling him, and all of us, “let your heart guide you. It whispers so listen closely.”
2. T. Rex, King Kong
If you’re talking movie star dinosaurs, few are more famous than this Tyrannosaurus Rex, who turned a butt whooping at the hands of King Kong into one of the most famous scenes in movie history. This is a movie that’s been remade twice, and placed on the National Film Registry, which means that there’s a good chance aliens will be watching these two behemoths doing battle long after we’re all extinct.
1. TIE: T. Rex and Velociraptors, Jurassic Park
There’s just no way to pick between these two dinos, who helped turn Jurassic Park into the biggest movie of 1993, and usher in the dawn of CGI. Between the terrifying majesty of T.rex, and the slow realization that the Raptors aren’t the mindless beasts we assumed them to be, this movie mixes the taut tension of a thriller with some of the most jaw-dropping action sequences in the history of film. It’s no wonder that the climactic moment of the movie is when the T. Rex and the Raptors finally face off in a throw down for the ages.