The strange story behind the mashup video “Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls (1936)” entertains and inspires me. Rob Northrup created the video in response to a poster for a never-made film that he may have seen for the first time on an aviation history blog.
In mid 2007 Brett Holman, an Australian aviation history buff, saw a poster that Hammer Films made in the early 70s to attract investors to a high concept film "Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls." The film was never made, but the poster intrigued Holman. He searched for more information on the unproduced film project and found a very brief plot summary posted by Chas Lindsay in the forum Mobius. According to Lindsay's summary, in the film story a zeppelin on a bombing mission to London encounters a storm, goes off course, and reaches an unknown land where prehistoric animals have survived. On 25 May 2007 Holman wrote about this poster and a few snippets of film lore in his blog Airminded.
The Brummel, a commenter on the post in Airminded, remarked:
Somebody needs to make this film today. ... C'mon, SkyCaptain (sic) and the World of Tomorrow got made on a big budget with A-list actors, why can't some low-rent just-out-of-film-school production company throw this together?
Perhaps this comment inspired Rob Northrup to make a mashup of the film concept using segments of film in the public domain. Two months later Northrup uploaded his video, which he titled "Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls (1936)," on YouTube. The film is also in the Prelinger Mashup section of Internet Archive.
As of this writing, the film has almost 45,000 views on YouTube alone. Reviews of this project run from ecstatic praise to grudging nitpicking. For example, blogger John Brownlee writes that "Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls (1936)" is “the sort of genius project that makes me bless the Internet every day.” On the other hand, Nosenod, a commenter on Internet Archive, observes that the font chosen for titles is ugly and anachronistic, the quality of the picture changes frequently, the music doesn't work well with the action, etc. Nevertheless, his final judgment of the film, "someday it might inspire somebody to do it better," shows that even he has to admit the film is inspirational.
It certainly has inspired me to learn more about making mashup videos.
“Zeppelins vs. Preadactyls (1936),” like the Republic serials that it satirizes and from which it is made, is in the public domain. For more details see Northrup's blog: http://evilbobdayjob.tripod.com/blog/2007_07_01_archive.html#2141009328657599138.
The video is available for on YouTube and for view (and download) at Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org/details/zeppelin_vs_pterodactyls_1936.
This article is a revision of piece with the same name that appeared on Triond’s Cinemaroll website: