Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls (1936)

I thought "Zeppelin vs. Pterodactyls" was just an idea that was floated by Hammer Films in 1971 and never developed. It turns out Hammer was trying to revive this forgotten Republic Pictures serial from 1936.

Actually it's a mashup I made from old serials and a few feature movies, all public domain.
Dick Tracy (1937)
Ace Drummond (1936)
The Lost World (1925)
Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965)
Three Musketeers (1933)
The Hurricane Express
Shadow of Chinatown
The Phantom Creeps
Undersea Kingdom (1936)
Thief of Baghdad (1978 TV movie)
Newsreels: Akron Disaster (1933), Giant Dirigible Sets Record (1936), Zeppelin Explodes (1937 Hindenberg)

The main theme song is taken from Captain Scarface (1953) which is supposed to be public domain, so I hope the music is too.

See if you can spot John Wayne firing a machine gun from a biplane and later bailing out of a burning ship. Sitting behind him in the biplane is Noah Beery, who played James Garner's father on Rockford Files.

The song with which Ace Drummond (John "Dusty" King) delights his fellow passengers is "Give Me A Ship and A Song" by Kay Kellogg.

For extra credit, find the two Wilhelm screams, one actor who wasn't even born until 1939, and explain to me why that kid exclaims "Mammy" as he listens to the song. Was that what Cartman would have exclaimed back in the day instead of "sweet"?

A few other inside jokes:
1. Nat Levine really did produce a string of serials in that era.
2. "Potrzebie" is a Polish word that was repeated in Mad magazine for some reason.
3. The recap title card says they're attacked by a "Muranian" Flying Wing. Murania is the name of the underground kingdom in The Phantom Empire.
4. "The Fur Pirates" is the third chapter of Dick Tracy (1937).

PLUG: If you love the hell out of serials, or just want something for your at-home MST3K sessions, pick up the Classic Serials Megapack: 150 Episodes on DVD. But be forewarned, since they're all or mostly public domain, you can find most of them on or elsewhere on the web as free downloads.

Finally, if you really want to see dogfights between pterodactyls and biplanes as imagined by a 1970s UK film company, I've seen some reviews that say they show one in The People That Time Forgot (conveniently sold with Land That Time Forgot on the same disk). Haven't seen it yet, but I just ordered it.


  • At 9:58 PM , Anonymous emperorofmongo said...

    How can there have been no comments upon this yet?

    You have provided this lonely, depressed, movie serial devotee with a moment of pure delight, at finding a "new" '30's action serial.

    And well done, too!
    Including "give me a ship to fly" showed deep insight into the psyches of those who mourn the absence of heroes and our own failure to have become such (but I DO own a pair of jodhpurs!).

    Thank you.

  • At 12:50 AM , Blogger Deidzoeb said...

    Thanks, Emperor. The cult of Zeppelin vs Pterodactyls is small but growing.

  • At 12:10 PM , Blogger anarchist said...


    I found this on, where I was looking for public domain footage to download for a similar project I'm working on.

    Can you tell me if the Thief of Baghdad TV movie that you mentioned is available for download anywhere? It doesn't seem to be on

  • At 5:18 PM , Blogger Robert T. Northrup said...

    Hi anarchist,
    Sorry but I got that footage from a cheap dvd copy of Thief of Bagdad. It looks like there are some torrents of it that you could download, if you can find a download site that you trust.


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