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Pterodactyl (2005)



Starring Coolio, Cameron Daddo, Amy Sloan, Danna Lee

Directed by Mark L. Lester

48 hours after Pterodactyl debuted on the Sci-Fi Channel Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, including my hometown of Long Beach, MS. 48 hours after that, the Sci-Fi Channel touts Pterodactyl as being their highest rated original movie ever. I’m not sure what my point is, but I cannot help but get a creepy feeling that this is no coincidence; one of those “wages of sin = death” dealies. I’m sure in the grand scheme of things that this movie and that catastrophic storm are completely unrelated, but the conspiracy theorist in me suspects that somehow, someway, there is a connection.

A hard luck college anthropologist and his would be girlfriend, a wannabe anthropologist herself, lead a tiny group of college misfits to a long dormant volcano in Northern Turkey to research…I forget what the original point of research was supposed to be but it had something to do with that volcano and the students were along in order to get extra credit. What matters is that they get there just in time to deal with some newly hatched pterodactyls. Why did pterodactyl eggs suddenly hatch, you ask? Well, you see, their eggs just sort of rolled out of the volcano at the very beginning of the film and began hatching. Rhyme and reason are irrelevant because this is a Sci-Fi Channel original movie and looking for rhyme and reason in a Sci-Fi Channel original movie is like looking for laughs in a Rob Schneider comedy; some will claim it exists but the rest of us know better by now.

Things go from dumb to dumber when it turns out that this Turkish volcano that the pterodactyls are nesting at, and where these stupid American academics are traveling to, also happens to be close to the Armenian border. I wasn’t aware that the United States was at war with the tiny nation of Armenia, but, according to this film, we definitely have some issues with them, at least their terrorist aspects, and I don’t think they were of the Islamic fundamentalist type either. Led by Sgt. Coolio, a crack team of cover US commandos/monster fodder is in hot pursuit of an evil Armenian terrorist, who in terms of rank villainy wouldn’t even make for a good henchman in a Golan-Globus action flick.

Before long, the college group is being attacked by both the pterodactyls and the terrorists, so the commandos step in to save them from both. In an amazing coincidence, it turns out that the professor’s would be girlfriend is the daughter of Sgt. Coolio’s Gulf War squad leader; small world, huh? And so when a pterodactyl whisks her off to the nest, they have to join forces to rescue her before pterodactyl hatchlings make a meal out of her. And they have to do so with the terrorist leader they’ve captured in tow and you know he won’t be up to any good.

As for the pterodactyls, I must confess I was surprised by the quality of the computer animation. It’s never completely realistic but after baring witness to the CGI abominations in Sci-Fi Channel originals like Snake King and Attack of the Sabretooth, the digital dactyls look quite impressive, at least about 75% of the time. The problem with the title creatures is the repetitive nature of their actions. The first time one swoops out of the sky and slices a guy in half causing a geyser of blood to erupt from the still standing half of his torso, it’s neat. The first time you see a pterodactyl swoop out of the sky and snatch someone up in its talons and fly off with them, it’s neat. Unfortunately, that’s about all they do and they do it repeatedly. Mostly though, they just fly around in circles and swoop out of the sky a lot. There’s only so many times you can watch a flock of pterodactyls dodging bullets and rockets before it grows especially tiresome.

To his credit, director Mark L. Lester knows how to keep things moving. While it does get a bit repetitive, one can never fully say Pterodactyl gets boring. Unlike countless other Sci-Fi Channel originals, Pterodactyl flows at a solid pace. A Hollywood veteran whose resume includes movies like Firestarter, Commando, Showdown in Little Tokyo, and Roller Boogie, Lester knows how to make a B-movie entertaining and he nearly pulls off a miracle – emphasis on nearly.

What ultimately sinks Pterodactyl are the characterizations. They’re either done too broadly to the point of bad parody, are totally one-dimensional, or simply inconsistent in how they’re portrayed. The worst in terms of bad stereotyping are the students along for the trip. You could best sum them up as conspiracy theorist nerd, the forty-year old virgin, Paris Hilton wannabe, and the one they didn’t bother establishing a personality for since she dies quickly anyway. These character types aren’t just bad, they’re insultingly unfunny. Whenever any of them opens their mouth – especially the conspiracy theorist nerd – it’s just plain brutal.

Coolio, whose career has rapidly descended from “Gangsta’s Paradise” to B-movie hell, actually gives the film’s best performance, which should tell you an awful lot right there. Still, his dialogue consists of an often uneasy mix of tough talking military jargon and fast talking ghetto jive that makes me wonder if Coolio didn’t adlib it all right there on the spot. Between his dialogue in this flick and Dracula 3000, I’m really beginning to wonder if he’s being allowed to write his own material.

The rest of the commandos are almost all just cannon fodder with only one or two that standout from the rest, and not because they have distinct personalities, but because they just have a few more lines than the others that die off quicker.

Then there’s the professor, one of the most inconsistent characters I’ve seen in awhile. Upon first encountering the pterodactyls and having already lost students to them, he still insists on going to the volcano to find their nest because it’ll be an incredible find that will make him world famous and he’s tired of being a nobody in the world of anthropology. He shows little or no regard for the remaining members of his group or their well being, almost all of whom want to turn back and seek help. Later on, this same professor suddenly goes from selfish egotist to dashing romantic hero determined to rescue the woman he loves. I kept expecting, if nothing else, for him to make a noble sacrifice at the end in order to save her and atone for his mistakes, as is usually keeping with the laws of cinema. But no, he does no such thing. In fact, another character makes one of the most pointless self sacrifices I’ve ever seen in a movie, proving to be that much more pointless because it doesn’t work, leaving professor jerkface to step in and be the hero. Sorry, not buying it.

Also, I don’t know about you but I really have come to hate it when screenwriters get cute by naming characters in goofy B-movies like this after really talented genre people. In this case, characters have last names like Lovecraft, Heinlein, and Serling. If you’re making a movie this dopey then at least be honest about it and give characters last names like Wynorski, Boll, and Pyun.

And a shiny new nickel to anyone that can explain to me the last shot of the film. Was it supposed to set up a potential sequel based around an entirely different breed of dinosaur, an acknowledgement that pterodactyls aren’t that impressive compared to other dinosaurs, or just something completely nonsensical that the filmmaker thought would be a nifty way to wrap up the movie? Save your nickel because I’m voting for theory number three.

2 out of 5

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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review



Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

Directed by Charles Martin Smith

I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

Now let’s get to it.

First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

Rockstar lighting for days.

Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5


Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

User Rating 3.25 (12 votes)
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AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters



Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)


The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

User Rating 4.11 (18 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror




Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods

The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.


  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom


In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

User Rating 4 (17 votes)
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