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“I’ve been a paleontology buff since I was about six or seven years old. Not surprisingly, my first amateur movie featured a dinosaur. At the age of nine, having just seen the movie The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms at a Chicago drive-in theatre and having been profoundly influenced by that film, I set out to ‘remake’ it in my own backyard. That initial effort was an incredibly inept (but well meaning) effort titled Diplodocus at Large. I had, of course, no idea how Ray Harryhausen’s ‘Rhedosaurus’ was made to move around in Beast and had never heard of the process called ‘stop motion’ or ‘dimensional animation.’ So, I donned a homemade ‘Ollie the Dragon’ (the character from the Kukla, Fran and Ollie TV show) and attacked a miniature city comprising various ‘Plasticville.’ ‘Marx’ and other toy buildings and structures. To give my dinosaur the ‘authentic’ (i.e. slightly pixilated) look of the Rhedosaurus, I literally shook my arm!
"Really discouraged by that first effort, I didn’t attempt another movie for three years, The Earth Before Man , which was largely inspired by The Animal World. As I still knew nothing about stop-motion special effects (like those used in Beast), I utilized those waxy plastic prehistoric-animal figures put out by the Millers company in 1956. I moved them by green threads that matched the sheet of model railroad ‘grass’ that served as the base of my backyard set. More real animation came from my pet lizards who were recruited as ‘actors.’
Don ca. 1957 with one of his homemade robots. This model later made a “cameo” appearance in Dinosaur Destroyer.
"Discouraged yet again, I waited three more years before tackling another dinosaur movie, Dinosaur Destroyer (the title purloined from stories in The Adventures Of Rex the Wonder Dog comic book and Amazing Stories pulp magazine, the plot inspired by the recent Ray Harryhausen stop-motion movie 20 Million Miles to Earth, and the dinosaur largely based on the “Rhedosaurus” from Harryhausen’s Beast from 20,000 Fathoms). By then older and a little smarter, I reasoned that, if cartoons could be made to move via a series of drawings, maybe a clay model could also be given ‘life’ by moving it slightly, shooting one or a few frames of film, moving the model again, shooting again, and repeating the process. I first experimented moving some kitchen utensils around. Projecting the film, I saw that it worked and, voila!, I (in a way) ‘invented’ stop motion. I animated a clay dinosaur I’d sculpted, having it attack my Lionel railroad layout, even taking a ride on one of the trains. To add length to the film, I had the dinosaur attack a house wherein I was testing a mechanical robot I’d made – actually, “stock footage” clipped from a recently shot home movie. From that point on stop motion was my way to go, although I still brought in live reptiles now and then, as did the producers of some of the real dinosaur movies I had seen over the years. The Time Monsters, made two years later (title "borrowed" from an issue of Blackhawk comics), also utilized toy cavemen and prehistoric scenery from a borrowed Marx ‘Prehistoric Times Playset.’ The Fire Monsters was my own ‘remake’ of the recently released Godzilla movie re-titled Gigantis the Fire Monster.
"By the early 1960s I came up with an idea to make my high-school science-class projects more interesting. Every year my school, St. Benedict, held a ‘Science Fair’ in which the students participated. For my biology project I made a documentary film, The Age of Reptiles, which screened in a classroom in which I had displayed my collection of fossils. Besides the stop-motion creatures, the film also featured live reptiles courtesy of Marlin Perkins , director of the Lincoln Park Zoo (and host of TV’s Zoo Parade show). The movie, which screened almost continuously, won a second-prize ribbon. The judges, however, would have liked it better without the fanciful ending. The following year, for physics class , I made another movie called Time Is Just a Place, about time travel, the title lifted from an episode of TV’s Science Fiction Theater . Jungle scenes were shot at the Lincoln Park Conservatory. No awards this time; and I spent most of the ‘down time’ running my teenage monster movies, while a friend watched out for approaching faculty.
Don at the "World Premier" of The Age of Reptiles
(St. Benedict High School Science Fair, 1960). That fossil bone was used as a prop in many of Don's amateur films.
Photo of the Lincoln Park Conservatory taken during the shooting of Time Is Just a Place. Both Tor, King of Beasts and Son of Tor also used this "jungle" location.
"My last two movies, Tor, King of Beasts and Son of Tor, were blatantly based on the original King Kong and its sequel The Son of Kong. Jungle scenes were again filmed at the Conservatory (after I surreptitiously moved the “This Way” signs to ensure some privacy) and the stop-motion effects showed improvement, as did my erupting volcano. In Son of Tor I also experimented with rear-screen projection, sometimes running two projectors simultaneously with images shown through cutouts on painted scenery. I also, for the first time, made one of my live reptiles more ‘prehistoric’ in appearance – by airplane-gluing a fin to the back of a baby caiman and shooting its scenes in slow motion. ‘Cameo’ appearances in the film were made by familiar movie monsters Gorgo , Godzilla , the Ymir from 20 Million Miles To Earth, the Giant Behemoth and Rhedosaurus . Son of Tor would be my last amateur dinosaur movie. (Super-heroes and serial heroes were waiting in the wings.)"
For more information on these films, see my book
Jurassic Classics, (McFarland & Company, 2001)."
“DIPLODOCUS AT LARGE” (1953, black & white)
A Diplodocus, a giant dinosaur, attacks a town and causes death and destruction. Finally a flying saucer from outer space appears and kills the menacing monster.
“THE EARTH BEFORE MAN” (1956, color)
A look at the Earth during prehistoric times, with dinosaurs, strange mammals, a giant gorilla and huge lizards living and fighting. In the end a volcano erupts, bringing an end to this ancient environment.
“DINOSAUR DESTROYER” (1959, black & white)
A spaceship crashes on Earth. A giant egg rolls out of the spacecraft and hatches an alien dinosaur. The animal rapidly grows to giant size in Earth’s atmosphere, then attacks a railroad town. After causing much havoc the monster climbs a water tower, where that same atmosphere causes the animal to burn up.
“THE TIME MONSTERS” (1959, color)
Two guys watch scenes of the prehistoric past on a “time television” screen. They see dinosaurs fight each other, eat cavemen, fight a giant gorilla and engage in other activities. A volcano arrives, killing some of the beasts, before the time-TV transmission ends.
“THE FIRE MONSTERS” (1959, color)
Two different gigantic, fire-breathing prehistoric monsters rise from the Chicago River and attack the Windy City. The monsters then turn on one another, engaging in battle. One monster kills the other, and then climbs the city’s tallest building, only to fall to its death.
“THE AGE OF REPTILES” (1960, color)
A look back to the Mesozoic Era, showing animals that lived during its three periods – the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. Dinosaurs and other Mesozoic creatures eat, do battle and engage in other activities. At the end of the Cretaceous, a volcano erupts and the ground quakes, killing, among other animals, a Tyrannosaurus. Following that is a look at what might happen if dinosaurs still lived, with a gigantic, fire-breathing Spinosaurus attacking, before being destroyed by a U.S. Army grenade.
“TIME IS JUST A PLACE” (1961, color)
A “documentary” style look at Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity and how it might relate to time travel. The theory is explained through various visuals, including animations. Rockets are shown trying to exceed the speed of light to break through the time barrier. There are two warnings to potential time travelers: Going too far back in time to watch a battle between a Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus can get you (Don Glut) eaten by a hungry dinosaur, while going too far ahead can put you on Earth when it explodes!
“TOR, KING OF BEASTS” (1962, black & white)
Carl Denham (Don Glut) and his Adventurers Club friends try reaching Mars in a rocket ship. Meteors deflect the spacecraft back to Earth, where it crashes atop a plateau of dense jungles and prehistoric life forms. The explorers encounter Tor, a giant gorilla, who kills one of them, then escapes into the jungle. Denham and his surviving friends stalk the ape, encountering along the way a menacing Stegosaurus that Denham kills with gas bombs, then a huge Apatosaurus that overturns their raft. The latter dinosaur pursues one of the crew into a tree and crushes him in its jaws. Meanwhile, Tor fights and kills a Tyrannosaurus, then, at his mountain retreat, an Elasmosaurus followed by a flying Pteranodon. Wanting to capture Tor, Denham subdues the ape with gas bombs, knocking him off the plateau into mud below. Denham and his last crewmember climb down the plateau, flag down a ship and return with Tor to Chicago. There, Tor is exhibited on a stage . The newsmen’s flashbulbs startle the monster and he breaks free, escaping into the city and causing panic. Climbing to the top of Chicago’s tallest building, Tor is shot down by fighter jet planes.
“SON OF TOR” (1964, black & white, part color)
Carl Denham (Don Glut) returns to Tor’s plateau with a friend. Their plane is attacked by a Pteranodon, which Denham destroys with a grenade, the flying creature dropping into the jaws and clutches of Gorgo. Landing, the two explorers find themselves in a world teeming with prehistoric life. They split up. One of them gets menaced by Godzilla, who then battles the Ymir monster, the two creatures finally plunging off the cliff to water below. Denham, meanwhile, encounters a giant albino gorilla trapped in quicksand. Denham helps the ape, called Torro, free himself. When a Styracosaurus threatens Denham, the grateful Torro fights and kills it. Denham’s human friend fights off a Kronosaurus that attacks the airplane, destroying it with dynamite. Suddenly there’s a rumbling – the volcano is erupting. Prehistoric creatures (including the Rhedosaurus and Giant Behemoth) flee for their lives as lava rolls down the volcano’s slope and the ground splits apart. Torro saves Denham by holding him out of the lava’s way, only to sink into the hot muck himself. Denham manages to reach the plane, he and his friend flying off as Torro sinks beneath the lava.
Dinosaur Don Glut made for Jim Hollander's movie "IT CAME FROM ALPHA CENTAURI"(1963). This model was based on the one Don sculpted for his own movie “DINOSAUR DESTROYER.”
Don Glut's Dinosaur Movies Diplodocus At Large The Earth Before Man
Time Is Just A Place Tor, King Of Beasts Son Of Tor Son Of Tor 2 Sitemap
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