Feature Friday: Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985)

It's the fourth Friday this month, and we're nearing completion of our jungle adventure. Now that we've survived two waves of cannibals and escaped from the Amazons, it's time for a little spot of jungle adventure. Tonight's film takes us deep into the Amazon, the Green Hell itself, for an adventure with some laughs, some nudity, some heart rippin', and a touch of political commentary. Gather round one and all, and beware the tale of the.... 
Massacre in Dinosaur Valley (1985) starring Michael Sopkiw, Suzane Carvalho, Milton Morris, and Andy Silas. Directed by Michele Massiomo Tarantini.

Bone hunter Kevin Hall (Sopkiw) talks his way onto a flight into the dense jungle to a secret location known as Dinosaur Valley. Accompanied by Dr. Ibanez, his lovely daughter Eva (Carcalho), Vietnam vet Captain Heinz (Morris) , Heinz's wife Betty, and a fashion photographer with his two models. Their small plane crash lands in the wrong part of the jungle, and the pilot is killed. They set out on foot to find their way home under Captain Heinz's direction, but they soon become even more lost, and worse yet deep in cannibal country. 

The group is perused by the cannibals, and soon one of the models and Eva are taken hostage. The two girls are offered up in a ritual to appease the tribe's Gods, but Kevin comes to the rescue. They take off though the jungle, but soon fall into the clutches of China (Silas), the head of an illegal mining operation. China imprisons Kevin and intends to make the girls sex slaves Kevin struggles to free himself, but perhaps it is their fate to perish in Dinosaur Valley. 

Film Facts

--For the scene where the tribe's priest eats a heart, the actor playing the priest dined on a fresh pig's heart. 

--Most of the cannibals are played by Brazilian military men who were on leave. 

--Michele Massiomo Tarantini was more widely known for his sex comedies. He was also the assistant director on The Case of the Bloody Iris.

The Bug Speaks

This flick surprised me on a couple of levels. I try not look look into anything, or anything much, about the films before I watch them. So when I put it on and it had the slick '80's sheen to it, I was ready for disappointment. Luckily I didn't get it, instead I got an old fashion adventure movie which brought to mind several contemporary films. Romancing the Stone (1984) and King Solomon's Mines (1985) sprang instantly to mind. Unlike those two films, Tarantini filled this movie with ton's of nudity and a fair amount of gore. 

Most of the other actors leave little impression (guys who looked like Borat and Hurley from Lost) or the impression they leave is one of what their naked body looks like (basically all the women in the film) However there are a few exceptions Micheal Sopkiw, previously seen in Martino's 2019:After the Fall of New York (1983), does turn in a great hammy performance that any Bruce Campbell fan would enjoy. He's a man of action, but he's always got time for a one liner. Sometimes they are very funny, and sometimes he just calls the bad guy, "and evil, fat, smelly bastard". The other real exception is Andy Silas as the evil mine foreman China. He is delightfully evil in the part, and seems to be doing both a good and convincing job of being a scum bag. 

The direction of the film is nothing special. These kind of films were obviously not Tarantini's forte, but he manages to give this flick a  great '80's feel. I really liked that this seemed like it could have been retitled Like Totally a Cannibal Movie. It was a welcome departure from the muddy look of earlier pictures in the genre. What Tarantini did really well though was construct the script. Featuring such disparate pieces as men in dinosaur masks, a fight in piranha infested water, death by quicksand, and evil lesbians, Tarantini managed to stitch together a very entertaining little flick. 

There are some other great scenes as well, but I don't want to spoil much for you folks that have not seen this one. Suffice it to say that it contains my favorite spear to the gut effect. With no animal violence or huge piles of gore, this film doesn't really stack up with the impact of it's sub-genre brethren. What it does accomplish is becoming it's own kind of film. Sure there was stuff I found reminiscent of this or that, but if you pick hard enough you'll find that almost everywhere. What this film did is successfully bring together the action film, the comedy, and the cannibal to make for one really fun time. 
Bug Rating
Join us next week when The Lightning Bug faces down the big bad of them all. It's the climatic finish of It's a Jungle Out There when we encounter Cannibal Holocaust. 


  1. I, too, doesn't read much about a movie before watching it and this time I was looking for some rubbery dinosaur action.

    Instead I got this great cheesy cannibal movie! That was OK for me, I just love those bad Italian cannibals films. I'll be back to read your Cannibal Holocaust review (this is one of my favorite film)

    For the interested, I got some more (uncensored) screenshots over here

  2. I think we have pretty much the same take on this one. Michael Sopkiw should have been in more movies--I'm glad you gave him some recognition here.

    Great review, Bug!

  3. Thanks for the comments fellas. I too was expecting some Dinosaurs, but hey, I was plenty happy with what I got. As far as Michael Sopkiw, I've seen 2019, and I'll be hunting down his few other titles.

    I'm really excited to cover Cannibal Holocaust. It's a film that I've kind of dodged so I did this months theme as a way to push myself into watching it. LOL

  4. Great write up there.

    Just want to add that I think this film is fucking ace! Really. It pushed pertty much all the jungle movie buttons.

  5. Hey Bug! Thanks for following my blog. Really nice blog you have! I have to tell you I lived in Travelers Rest for almost 20 years before moving to NH.

  6. Thanks for the props frgodbeyjr. I don't live too far from the wiles of TR myself.....umm, I mean I live on the moon, heh, yeah thats the ticket.

    I really liked what I read on your site too. I look forward to digging in your archives.


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