This happens to everyone. You get a wild hair up your toucash and you google yourself.
Admit it, you’ve done it.
Well, for me, it’s not just about googling “Lilith70” or my name. Tonight, I got a little wistful after a brief text exchange reminded me of my far-buried past, and I googled…
“Invasion of the Robot Dinosaurs”.
That’s right, that one.
The year was 1988, and my friend Shea knew this guy Jonathan that was her mom’s friend or something like that. Jonathan was recently done with writing (and being the radio voice) for “Surf Nazis Must Die” by Troma Team. (Or rather, this was after it came out.) He was doing a thing with National Geographic on the robot dinosaur exhibit, making a movie to play in the gift shop and tell about all the neat things they’d discovered about dinosaurs at that point, and he was polling through Shea and her friends to help cast it.
In one scene, Shea was walking a dinosaur the size of a dog. That dog-sized dinosaur was my sister Diana in a dinosaur costume. It was just about the cutest thing ever.
And I was “the Dream Girl”.
I was 14, blonde, and a head taller than the 8- and 9-year olds that were also cast as the rest of the class – with the except of “the Rival”, who was a few inches taller than I was. Gods help me, I can’t remember anyone else’s name, but I can still see them in my head.
We used a dress from Limited, got my hair all pretty, and we camped at the Robot Dinosaur exhibit at the Natural History Museum over several evenings. Many adventures were had, and I discovered the feeling of “self-consciousness” for the first time because it was also during this time that I Became A Woman. Talk about crappy timing… And I had to tape down my D+ boobs to fit into the dress, and that was… ugh.
But, here’s the thing. I figured it had gone the way of the pterodactyl (if you’ll forgive the pun), but it turns out, someone else found it for $.50 at a used book store. Heck, I didn’t even know the thing had been distributed! I thought it was just a show that ran in the gift shop and that was it!
It turns out that nothing ever dies, and “Invasion” is no exception. Rotten Tomatoes lists it, Yahoo Movies lists it, some folks have copies on eBay, someone mentioned in on frikkin’ Tumblr… It’s even in WorldCat.
There’s a vicious rumor that it was released on DVD in 1991, but I have been unable to substantiate that. Instead, the only ones I can find are on VHS. And I do not own a VCR.
Now, this is possibly an act of complete and utter masochism. I mean, I was 14, had no acting experience past stage plays, and I had an unspeakable crush on the writer/producer/director. I remember having to psyche myself into liking the kid that played “the Hero” because he was kind of a brat, and thinking that “the Rival” was probably going to have a great life as some kind of high-power executive. I’m sure if/when I ever get the chance to see it again, I’m going to want to crawl under a rock and never hear from myself ever again, but at the same time, I think I can forgive myself for having been 14 once.
Honestly, it was a fantastic adventure, and I suspect that might’ve been what put an idea in my head, all those years ago, of looking at stories from the perspective of being a movie. You wouldn’t think that would be a stretch for someone who’d already written her first novel by that time, but it was an important point. Perhaps that might even be why I’m so fascinated with writing screenplays right now – so that I have a guarantee to stay on this side of the camera.