Some people consider a movie that costs around a million dollars a low-budget feature. While that is low in comparison to the average summer blockbuster, it has nothing on the budget of the 2004 movie The Dinosaur Chronicles. The budget for this double-feature–that’s right–is less than you’d pay for a new car. But does that mean, when it comes to this movie, you get what you pay for?
The Polonia Brothers: Cult Movie Icons
Before we talk about the movie itself, let’s talk about the creators. The Polonia brothers, twins Mark and John, were early movie fans. They released their first low-budget flick, Splatter Farm, when they were still in their teens. After that, they made dozens more, becoming icons for their do-it-yourself ethos. Their 1996 alien movie, Feeders, was even Blockbuster’s number one independent rental that year. At the same time, they worked regular jobs. Movies were a passion for them.
Hallmarks of Polonia brothers films include their use of anything and everything available. That means they appeared in their movies, as do their friends and loved ones. In addition, it means that they’ll use simple props and whatever locations are free. That’s how you make movie for $6000, which is the reported budget for The Dinosaur Chronicles.
Sadly, John passed away in 2008. However, Mark Polonia has continued to make films, which almost seems like an understatement. He usually makes at least two movies a year and sometimes as many as six. The Dinosaur Chronicles, for instance, was one of four Polonia Brothers movies in 2004.
The 2004 Movie The Dinosaur Chronicles: Two Movies in One
And again, it was a double feature. (Some people just can’t turn off their creativity.) The first half is “The Prehistoric Island.” After winning the lottery, the winner takes two friends along on what should be a fun cruise. However, his luck runs out. A terrible storm causes a shipwreck, and everyone washes up on what looks to be a deserted island. It’s not. In fact, the island is home to all kinds of prehistoric creatures. The shipwreck survivors then have to fight for their lives.
In the second feature, “Dawn of the Dinosaur,” it seems as if things didn’t go well. This mini-movie takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Not only are zombies now roaming, but as you can tell from the title, dinosaurs are also loose. Once again, the human characters–two gunmen this time–have to fight for survival.
Written by frequent Polonia collaborator Billy D’Amato, both Mark and John Polonia directed the film. They also appear in it, along with Dave Fife, Bob Dennis, and Todd Carpenter.
The Critical Reaction to The Dinosaur Chronicles
As the Polonia brothers made this movie on video, as they did with so many, it’s unsurprising that there few critical reviews. There is one, though. Writer Mark Cole reviewed the film for his personal site, Rivets on the Poster. While Cole acknowledges that the low budget shows, he praises the brothers’ effort. Cole wrote that their “…goofy willingness to go out and put their vision on the screen” is a highlight.
As for amateur reviewers, their reactions have been mixed. Some viewers, for example, thought it was a waste of their time. Other viewers, though, especially those who were familiar with the Polonia brothers’ work, were more complimentary. Even viewers who didn’t love it marked its completion as a triumph. The brothers didn’t just talk about making movies. They actually went out and did it. And Mark’s still going.
Brentwood Home Video released the 2004 movie The Dinosaur Chronicles as part of a 4-DVD “Galaxy of Terror” set. However, it appears to now be out of print. Wild Eye Releasing may rerelease at some point, though.
featured image via Wild Eye Releasing
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at email@example.com.