"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Toho Video Issues Special Edition DVD


Cover art based on original release poster. © Toho Video

On May 22, Toho Video will be releasing a deluxe, special edition DVD of a 1977 film produced by Tsuburaya Productions and Rankin-Bass for the ABC Television network: Tsugunobu "Tom" Kotani's THE LAST DINOSAUR. Originally the first in a proposed five-picture deal, which includes THE BERMUDA DEPTHS (1978), THE IVORY APE (1980) and THE BUSHIDO BLADE (1981). Rankin-Bass had previously produced KING KONG ESCAPES (1967) with Toho.

THE LAST DINOSAUR was written by William Overguard (Steve Roper) and combines elements from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, Edgar Rice Burroughs' At the Earth's Core and Universal International's 1957 science fiction film, THE LAND UNKNOWN. The wealthiest man in the world, industrialist Masten Thrust (Richard Boone), plans the greatest big game hunt of all time—tracking down a Tyrannosaurus Rex dwelling in a recently-discovered prehistoric pocket in deep in the Antarctic. Thrust's manned laser drill, Polar Borer, will get him there.

After its debut on ABC in February 1977, the film was released theatrically in Japan that October by Toho-Towa, and has only been issued once on VHS and LD in 1993. This completely remastered, anamorphic DVD release will contain the English and Japanese audio tracks, as well as an audio commentary track (in Japanese) with director Tsugunobu Kotani and Masumi Sekitani, the actress who played the cavewoman. The Japanese audio is from the original television broadcast (the original Japanese theatrical release was in English with Japanese subtitles). This release is also ten minutes longer than the 95-minute version shown originally on ABC-TV.

Also included in this DVD presentation is a special video message from actress Masumi Sekitani, a 13-minute interview with visual effects director Kazuo Sagawa, a production photo gallery (which includes storyboards, production designs, and behind-the-scenes photos), a 15-minute, behind-the-scenes production reel of the visual effects shoot (narrated by Kazuo Sagawa), and the original Japanese release trailer. Toho Video's MSRP is 4725 Yen (approximately $49.50 USD).

The first pressing of the DVD will contain a reproduction of the "special screening" ticket from the presentation at the Tokyo International Film Festival's "Natural TIFF" program last November. Additionally, customers will also find a coupon to order a pair of special, retro-style vinyl figures sculpted and created by the renowned M-1—one being the titular T-Rex and the other being the Polar Borer.

M-1's unpainted prototype T-Rex & Polar Borer vinyl figures.

In Tokyo this Saturday, a promotional late-night screening of three of Kotani's films at Theatre Shinjuku: THE LAST DINOSAUR (Kyokutei Tanken-sen Pora-bora), TOMORROW NEVER WAITS (Isoge! Wakamono, 1974) and LOVE IN A TEMPEST (Ai-no Arashi-no naka-de, 1978), will be preceded by an appearance and on-stage discussion with Kotani, called "The Secret of POLAR BORER." For those of you in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, or who will be there this weekend, click here for more details: cinemabox.com.


Arbogast said...

Does this end with the protagonists catapulting a boulder at the dinosaur? I have a dim memory of the dinosaur's head going all rubbery at the moment of impact.

geozilla ジーヨジラ said...

Very cool! Thanks for the heads up!

August Ragone said...

Yes, the boulders "cave in" the T-Rex's cranium, in glorious slow motion!

You're welcome!


Robert said...

It's quite splendid that Toho is going deluxe for a TV movie! Meanwhile these fondly-remembered telefilms languish in vaults here when they could be out on DVD earning dosh for their companies. I'd say that due to their frequent repeats during the 1970s and 1980s the general public would have greater familiarity with these versus many niche titles, and there would be a definite consumer base for a great many titles. It would be grand if THE LAST DINOSAUR made an R1 bow with equally special treatment, and hopefully Toho will also consider treating the other Rankin-Bass endeavors with the same care.

Kevin P. said...

I agree with Robert here: this certainly has a market beyond that of The War in Space or Sayonara Jupiter, so I'm wondering if Media Blasters or Discotek will pick it up now that a nice transfer and extras are available . . .

Kevin P.

August Ragone said...

Robert & Kevin,
Unfortunately, a US release would have to be licensed through the current owners of the North American rights, The last known owner was Viacom. Not sure who owns the US rights to THE BERMUDA DEPTHS, THE IVORY APE and THE BUSHIO BLADE.

Toho, rather their former foreign film distribution arm, Toho-Towa was the distributor for THE LAST DINOSAUR, but it was produced by Rankin-Bass and Tsuburaya Productions. THE BERMUDA DEPTHS was the only other released in Japan, and that went straight to television...


d.merrill said...

Sweet! I watched this on TV as a rapt 7-year old and thought it was the bee's knees. Glad it's finally getting a release somewhere.

Unknown said...

I've known About it and ordered a copy since February...

Being myself a zealous fan & collector of "Tsuburaya Triple Dinosaur Works", the DVD release is considered an excellent move!(already own a poster, a flier and a pamphlet, but missing the LD & Record of the movie)

I wonder if the movie title was changed from "The Last Dinosaur" to "Kyokutei Tanken-Sen Pora-Bora" by Toho in the 90's?

Also, is it true that the Tyrannosaurs suit was originally planned and made for "Kyoryu Daisenso Aizenborg", but got used first in "The Last Dinosaur" for budget reasons??

By the way, is the event aired on TV?

My apologies for many questions...

Ninja Dixon said...

Anyone had a chance to take a look at the DVD? I really want to order it, but it's also an investment with that price. Just hoping it's worth it.

WmTodd said...

I remember the night I saw this in 1977.... I somewhat recall a crooning Bond-esque theme song, too....And as for Richard Boone's character...seriously, how could anyone deny a protagonist named "Masten Thrust" ?!!!

Unknown said...

Hi August. :)

Any word yet on whether or not this will be coming to the USA on DVD? Did they ever release the finished products regarding the figures, and if so, what do they look like for final models?

Joseph Howell said...


You can get it in a made to order DVD from the Warner Archives: