Dennis the Menace: Dinosaur Hunter

When I was a kid I didn’t really have friends so I retreated to my basement for most hours of the day. If it was the summer I wouldn’t leave the basement besides to eat or use the bathroom. I had a tv, vcr, nintendo and my dog Toby. Here we watched countless movies and acted them out. We would rewrite scenes and create them. (one of Toby’s favorite characters was Snarf from Thundercats) But that’s not the point. The point of this post is to discuss Dennis the Menace Dinosaur Hunter.

This movie came out on September 11, 1987 to television screens across America titled simply Dennis the Menace.

The story finds our hero playing in his front yard to dig a sprinkler system for Alice & Henry Mitchell when he finds a large bone. After Dennis is informed by Margret it is most likely an ox bone he has his parents contact their college buddy “Bones” to take a look. He shows up the following morning before breakfast and quickly lets them know it’s a dinosaur.

From this point forward we see the neighborhood in shambles from the media and dinosaur fanatics taking over. We learn that Mr. Wilson is not only annoyed by Dennis and life in general but he’s also jealous; we of course see a perfect grandmother in Mrs. Wilson throughout the entire 93 minutes. The Mitchell’s handle Dennis as you’d expect with understanding and easy discipline. It’s good to see Dennis’ whole gang in the picture even if only Joey really shares any screen time.

By the time the movie wraps up we have a clear villain who shows us kids not to lie, cheat or steal, and a young kid who dispute all his faults has a very full and positively influenced heart. There is nothing that isn’t clean cut for kiddos of any age.

I can’t imagine the amount of times I’ve seen this movie. It’s too the point that when I see the opening credits of the fountain and hear them heading to the museum I instantly revert to my basement. For some reason something that stands out in my memory bank when I can transport to that time is the brown carpet. That’s when I know a memory is extra deep, not sure why but it’s a focal point. I tapped this off some channel in the 80s and watched and watched and rewatched. I assume it was the Disney channel because there were no commercials on my tape.

As someone who loved the cartoon I found that the best part of the movie is the perfect casting of Henry Mitchell played by Jim Jansen. He just looked exactly like the dad should. Dennis was played by Victor DiMattia who you know as Timmy Timmons from The Sandlot but it should be from his portrayal of Tommy in the Vanilla Ice film Cool As Ice.

What I find strange about this movie is that it was later released by VidMark in 1993 as Dennis the Menace: Dinosaur Hunter which brings us to why I am bringing up the masterpiece. Well over a decade ago I really wanted to get small and watch it. At the time I couldn’t find it on YouTube but I was able to get it on VHS by way of eBay. It didn’t have the cover but it had the tape and that was all I wanted. I paid something small and it arrived in the mailbox to my delight. I watched it that night and was instantly little and happily alone again. Because of space and a girlfriend I downgrade my movies and put them in storage. About a year ago I was rearranging my Nintendo display and added my favorite tapes to the shelves while unknowingly deciding to collect the format again.

During this rebuilding time I could not find this tape. I know I have it somewhere as it wasn’t one of my “in alphabetical order” tapes, it went in the front with the likes of Minor Treat Live and Gleaming the Cube. Although I know it’s somewhere it’s still one of the titles I look up from time to time in hopes to find a cover. Well, it happened; but it wasn’t the typical cover, it’s a screener copy.

I haven’t sat down and watched it because it arrived in my mailbox about 45 minutes ago but when I was looking at the sticker on the tape I saw the 1993 and freaked out thinking it was a mistake and the tape was the Walter Matthau/Christopher Lloyd one that I do not want. Once I popped it in fast forwarded to the middle I saw it was correct and went to the internet for an explanation. And it was simply that VidStar owned the rights and wanted to make some money.

And thankfully they did because otherwise it would be a taped off tv memory like that Corin Nemec movie where he kisses the girl in the pool I saw in 4th grade.

The cover doesn’t really make too much sense as there are no actual dinosaurs in the movie and this makes you think he will actually hunt them, with a slingshot. It’s probably because the video release was so late compared to when it was made but Dennis on the cover isn’t Dennis in the movie.

Go take all this very important information about this movie and my childhood and go watch it on Amazon Prime.

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