© 2019 Bruno Hare

A Zeppelin carrying a group of Allied and German WWI airmen is transported back to prehistory, forcing the crew to overcome their differences, defeat the local dinosaur population and return to 1917.

ZEPPELIN v PTERODACTYLS

The legacy of Hammer Films requires no introduction here, the name being synonymous with high concept fantasy, sci-fi and horror. By the mid-sixties, high levels of competition in the established genres saw them exploring the uncharted territory of the prehistoric action film. The first foray, One Million Years B.C. (1966) became an international hit, thanks not only to Raquel Welch's famous bikini, but also to the stop-motion creature effects of the legendary Ray Harryhausen. By 1968 two more such adventures were in the can, Prehistoric Women and The Lost Continent, with When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth following in 1970. 

 

It was while working on the latter film that stop-motion animator David Allen pitched the concept for a film entitled The Stone Ring, which he hoped would provide a showcase for his visual effects talents. By 1971, Allen's concept had been added to the roster of future Hammer productions, though by then it had shifted away from the creature-feature of Allen’s original proposal. A briefly sketched plot showed the new vision to have moved into prehistoric territory and came complete with an attention-grabbing new title and even artwork by the great Tom Chantrell. Thus the quest for funding began, but with delays caused by stop-motion effects on When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, investors proved unforthcoming and Hammer was forced to shelve the nascent project. All that remained was the poster. But what a poster. So cult film lexicon and warbird know-it-all Dylan Michael and I decided to come up with the story such a poster deserves and wrote a full feature screenplay.

At the height of World War I, flight buddies Major Doug Tyler and Private Alfred Collins are recruited to lead a top secret mission to capture a new German Super Zeppelin, armed with a deadly disintegration weapon capable of destroying entire towns. With a rag-tag team of aces behind them, Tyler and Collins strike as the Zeppelin is launched for a test upon an unsuspecting French mountain village. But the mission goes awry and in the blazing dogfight that ensues, the weapon is triggered by the fiercely patriotic Captain von Brauschlitz. His timing is unfortunate, however, and the rays ricochet off the valley floor, engulfing both aircraft and Zeppelin...

 

Only then do those aboard the various craft come to realise that the weapon does not destroy its targets, it creates portals to the fifth dimension, throwing them back in time. They have arrived in prehistory and must immediately begin fighting for their lives in a hostile and unfamiliar world. A truce is made and a plan formulated by which the group can return the damaged and short-of-fuel Zeppelin to 1917. It is dependent upon their ability to precisely recreate the conditions that brought them there, however, which means they must find a concave surface that matches the French mountain valley over which the weapon was originally fired. A distant volcano is their only option, but whilst the vast crater appears dormant, a reconnaissance flight reveals that it serves as nest to the local population of pterosaurs – fearsome flying beasts with wingspans of up to fifty feet.

A ground team led by Collins and von Brauschlitz is dispatched to lay explosive charges around the hundreds of creatures as they sleep. But to get there, they must first undertake a dangerous trek through dino-infested jungle and a grueling climb up the rocky face of the volcano.

As time runs out and new allegiances are tested, we are forced to wonder whether sworn enemies can forget their differences and work together in order to make it home. Will the ground team make it back before the airship runs out of fuel? Will the cunning von Brauschlitz dispose of our heroes and return to 1917 in control of the weapon and win the war for Germany? Or, as the fast deteriorating Zeppelin descends into the crater for their do-or-die attempt to make it home, will all on board be cooked by the smouldering volcano and be rendered no more than tasty barbecued appetisers for the swarms of vicious pterodactyls and their hatchlings?

 

ZEPPELIN V PTERODACTYLS takes in action, comedy, romance, glamour, suspense and, of course, biplanes, dinosaurs and the biggest damn Zeppelin you've ever seen!