Legend of Dinosaurs & Monster Birds

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Legend of Dinosaurs & Monster Birds
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJunji Kurata
Screenplay by
  • Masaru Igami
  • Isao Matsumoto
  • Ichirô Ôtsu[1]
Music byMasao Yagi[1]
  • Sakuji Shiomi
  • Shigeru Akazuka[1]
Edited byIsamu Ichida[1]
Distributed byToei
Release date
  • April 29, 1977 (1977-04-29) (Japan)
Running time
94 minutes[2]
Budget$2.8 million
Box office$19 million (USSR)

Legend of Dinosaurs & Monster Birds (恐竜・怪鳥の伝説, Kyōryū Kaichō no Densetsu, lit. Legend of Dinosaurs and Ominous Birds), also known in the U.S. as The "Legend of Dinosaurs" is a 1977 Japanese science fiction film produced and distributed by Toei Company.


A young woman wanders barefoot in the lush Aokigahara (青木ヶ原), also known as the Sea of Trees (樹海 Jukai) region of Mt. Fuji, and suddenly falls into a cavern, awakening in an icy cave full of large eggs. When one of the eggs start to hatch, she goes into hysterics and flees until she is discovered by a construction crew. Before falling into a coma, the girl babbles about what she saw to a reporter. Her story airs on a televised news report that is seen by geologist Takashi Ashizawa. Upon hearing about the fossilized egg, Takashi sets off to Mt. Fuji to find it. When he arrives at the small village bordering Fuji's Saiko Lake, Takashi immediately heads into the heavily forested Jukai when a sudden earthquake occurs and he is knocked out. He later awakens in his father's old cabin near Saiko Lake, and discovers that he was rescued by Shohei Muku, an old friend of the family. Takashi quickly gets back to fossil-hunting and heads toward the Jukai once again. As he cruises through the nearby village, he greets two women named Akiko, a former lover of his, and Junko.

Meanwhile, other bizarre things start happening around the Saiko Lake community. A young couple in a paddle boat disappear without a trace, an injured diver is pulled from the lake and livestock begin to mysteriously vanish. Takashi begins developing a theory that a dinosaur is alive and well in Saiko Lake. His theory gains credence when Junko stumbles upon a headless horse-corpse lying in the road, and Takashi later finds it lodged in a tree while taking photographs of some strange tracks in the mud. The following day, Takashi sits in his father's cabin and develops a possible theory as to what type of creature could have killed the horse and placed the remains in a tree for safekeeping. He decides that the creature must be a living Plesiosaurus and shares his minimal proof and hypothesis with a very sceptical Shohei. His theory proves correct when a Plesiosaurus really does appear and devours some local pranksters during a festival outside. The creature continues to subtly terrorise the community and devours two more women, including Junko, whose death is witnessed by Akiko and their pet dog. Takashi and Akiko soon discover the presence of another prehistoric beast, a Rhamphorhynchus, which also proceeds to terrorize the community. Eventually, the two prehistoric beasts come face-to-face, with the Plesiosaurus eventually gaining the upper hand against the Rhamphorhynchus, despite losing an eye. Mt. Fuji then finally erupts, sending the reptiles into a fiery chasm below as the ground gives way. Akiko almost falls to her death, before Takashi is able to grab her by the hand. The film then ends, leaving the two protagonists' fates ambiguous.


  • Tsunehiko Watase as Setsu Serizawa
  • Shotaro Hayashi as Akira Taniki
  • Nobiko Sawa as Akiko Osano
  • Tomoko Kiyoshima as Junko Sonoda
  • Fuyukichi Maki as Masahira Muku
  • Kinshi Nakamura as Hideyuki Sakai
  • Hiroshi Nawa as Masahiko Miyawaki
  • So Takizawa as Jiro Shimamoto
  • Yûsuke Tsukasa as Susumu Hirano
  • Go Nawata as Hiroshi Sugiyama
  • Yukari Miyazen as Hiroko Takami
  • Masahiro Arikawa as Seitaro Shintaku
  • Tamikashi Karazawa as Uemura
  • Sachio Miyashiro as Kobayashi


Inspiration for the film came from the shark attack movie Jaws (1975) as well as other animal attack films being released in the US. Also, in Scotland, interest in Nessie at Loch Ness was gaining worldwide attention at the time.

In the spring of 1976, an early title for the screenplay was written called “The Giant Monster Bird vs. The Giant Dragon God" (大怪鳥対大竜神, Dai kaisho tai Dai ryujin).

Legend of Dinosaurs & Monster Birds was filmed at Toei Studios and on location at Mt. Fuji.[2]

The production cost of the film was ¥750 million[3] ($2.8 million),[4] equivalent to $12 million adjusted for inflation.


Legend of Dinosaurs & Monster Birds was released in Japan on April 29, 1977.[2] The film was never released theatrically in the United States.[2] It was released to television by King Features Entertainment in 1987 with an English-language dub,[2] and later featured in an early episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Box office[edit]

Upon its release in the Soviet Union in 1979, it became the 19th highest-grossing foreign film of all time at the Soviet box office, with 48.7 million admissions.[5] This was equivalent to approximately 12.2 million Soviet rubles[6] ($19 million),[7] or $66 million adjusted for inflation.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e Galbraith IV 1996, p. 261.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Galbraith IV 1996, p. 262.
  3. ^ 東映ビデオDVDソフト『恐竜・怪鳥の伝説』(DSTD002415)解説書より (Toei Company)
  4. ^ "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average)". World Bank. 1977. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  5. ^ Sergey Kudryavtsev (2006-07-04). "Зарубежные фильмы в советском кинопрокате". Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  6. ^ Moscow Prime Time: How the Soviet Union Built the Media Empire that Lost the Cultural Cold War, page 48, Cornell University Press, 2011
  7. ^ "Archive". Central Bank of Russia. 1979. Retrieved 29 December 2009.


  • Galbraith IV, Stuart (1996). The Japanese Filmography: 1900 through 1994. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0032-3.

External links[edit]