To celebrate the release of Jurassic World – and just because we love the heck out of the series – here are the most thrilling, awe-inspiring and outright terrifying moments in Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Jurassic Park III.
Hold on to your butts… here we go.
10. "Life Finds a Way"
It’s an unfortunate truth that the acting in Jurassic Park feels more dated than the effects, with many of its cast playing their characters in broad strokes. But not Jeff Goldblum. His chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm is the anchor that stops the movie floating into fairytale-land, the dash of cynicism that keeps it grounded in reality. He plays Malcolm with a similar appealing eccentricity he debuted in The Fly; all nervous energy and pithy observations. He also delivers one of the most memorable lines in Jurassic Park, hitting John Hammond’s god complex with all the scientific rationale he can muster:
Malcolm: John, the kind of control you’re attempting simply is… it’s not possible. If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, it expands to new territories and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously, but, uh… well, there it is.
Hammond: There it is.
Henry Wu: You’re implying that a group composed entirely of female animals will… breed?
Malcolm: No, I’m, I’m simply saying that life, uh… finds a way.
9. Enter the Pterodactyl
The pterodactyl in the aviary is a refreshingly creepy moment amongst all the roaring and stomping featured in the balls-out monster movie that was Jurassic Park III. Entering slowly across a creaking bridge, its appearance is the awful coda to Alan Grant’s foreboding realization that the group were, in fact, “in a birdcage.” Half-obscured, the approaching figure looks demented; it doesn’t help that the dang thing is walking.
8. Don't Break the Glass
While it’s a thrilling sequence, the T-Rex attack in The Lost World climaxes in a far more genius conceit than two dinosaurs merely trying to eat everybody. Julianne Moore’s Sarah has fallen onto the windshield of the RV, now dangling over a cliff, and if she shifts her weight at the wrong angle the windshield’s glass will break. As the glass slowly splinters under her – aided by some truly excruciating sound effects – the tension is near-unbearable; never before have we wanted such an irritating character to make it to safety.
7. Raptors in the Long Grass
The raptors in the tall grass is one of the most ‘Spielbergian’ moments in the otherwise stylistically muddy The Lost World, and a sound reminder that Spielberg should direct more horror. The overhead shot of the raptors stealthily cutting through long grass to pick off a bunch of terrified hunters is proof that the most chilling moments in the Jurassic series tend to centre on what you don’t see.
6. The T-Rex Storms San Diego
The T-Rex’s rampage through San Diego in The Lost World is a ridiculous sequence played unapologetically for laughs, from the rex running amok through a video store advertising Schwarzenegger’s ‘King Lear’ to the kid telling his disbelieving parents ‘there’s a dinosaur in our backyard.’ It might have been the moment where the film jumped the shark, but what a hell of a way to do it.
5. The Water Glass
Few scenes in Jurassic Park have been as spoofed as the ‘rippling water glass’, so it’s easy to forget how much of a masterstroke of direction this moment was on Spielberg’s part. Its brilliance lies in the manipulation of our anticipation to catch a glimpse of the World’s Most Famous Dinosaur, the build up more thrilling and terrifying than the T-Rex itself, all thanks to a glass of water, a rear-view mirror and the loud beating of our own hearts.
Fun fact – Spielberg thought of the moment while listening to Earth, Wind & Fire with the volume turned way up in his car.
4. Dennis Nedry's Death
While the traitorous Dennis Nedry did indeed deserve comeuppance, his death via a ‘spitter’ was one of the most cruelly vicious in the original movie (and if you’ve read it, you’ll know it’s far more graphic in Michael Crichton’s novel). Nedry’s mistake was to underestimate the small dilophosaurus, whose chirping and sweetly curious nature seemed to indicate a non-threatening, almost cute presence. But of course, we knew better.
If you want to know how the dilophosaurus was built, check out this awesome video.
3. "Clever Girl"
Jurassic Park’s most quoted line is now widely recognized as an Internet meme, possibly because it’s the finest – and last – moment featuring everyone’s favourite game warden. Robert Muldoon, played with a stiff-upper-lip by Bob Peck, is meant to survive; he is after all, the character with any real hands-on expertise and he lacks the rose-tinted view of the animals held by John Hammond (“they should all be destroyed!”). But Muldoon is eventually outwitted, and in his final grisly moments he can’t help but be, well, impressed.
2. Raptors in the Kitchen
This set-piece straight out of a horror movie still has the power to terrify, the raptors pursuing the kids in a tight, mirrored space with the dogged-like determination of a Michael Myers or a Jason, their menace encouraged by a seamless blend of old-school practical and digital effects one rarely sees today. In this instance a mixture of puppets, CG, and two crouching men in suits serve as a reminder that special effects were, once, truly special
1. First Sighting
A pitch-perfect exercise in rewarding our expectations, the first dinosaur sighting in Jurassic Park is still powerful enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Much of it is to do with the performances from Laura Dern and Sam Neill, their somewhat adorable disbelief echoing our own; much of it is to do with John Williams’ iconic score as it swells to fever pitch; most of it is to do with the majesty of the brachiosauruses themselves standing up to all our scrutiny in the sun-drenched landscape. If you saw this for the first time in the cinema back in 1993, it’s likely it’s a moment you’ll never forget. That crazy man, he did it.
If you can't get enough of Jurassic Park series for the moment, here are a few other videos you absolutely should see.
The Warp Zone crew teamed up with YouTube a cappella legend Peter Hollens, taking us on a journey back in time to the original film with this AWESOME a cappella rendition of its ending credits like you’ve never heard it before!
And be sure to check out The Piano Guys’ moving performance of “Jurassic World Sonata” which is sure to put you in the mood to binge watch the series all over again!