Carnosaur (1993)

Carnosaur (1993)

Driven to extinction. Back for revenge.

Genetics scientist Dr Jane Tiptree has been experimenting on chickens’ eggs which eventually hatch into dinosaurs. By tampering with a batch of eggs from a local chicken plant, she aims to expose females to a lethal virus which will expose them to the effects of these eggs, causing them to give birth to dinosaurs, wiping out the human race in favour of her new breed of prehistoric terror.

 

Though producer Roger Corman’s insistence that Carnosaur was based upon a novel which was written before Michael Crichton penned Jurassic Park is founded on truth, there is no doubt that this only ever saw the light of day thanks to Steven Spielberg’s classic 1993 adaptation. But whereas Spielberg’s schmaltzy, child-safe blockbuster appealed to the masses, Corman went for the proverbial low budget jugular, turning dinosaurs into exploitative menaces and gunning for a particular adult demographic. This is the x-rated, ultra low budget Jurassic Park knock-off, only with about a tenth of the entertainment value.

Right from the ‘mad scientist meddles with genetically-engineered monsters’ theme to the inevitable Jurassic Park set piece rip-offs to even material borrowed from Humanoids from the Deep, Carnosaur just lacks anything remotely original. There’s even a bizarre mid-film switch to a sub-plot taken from The Crazies. Carnosaur is allegedly an in-name only adaptation of the novel and all of the nonsense about genetic engineering was added by Corman and his writing team. I think the correct response is “no kidding!” There’s no way anyone with a right mind would write this sort of incomprehensible rubbish and get away with selling it as a novel. The film is all over the shop, bouncing ideas around like a ping-pong ball. Lethal viruses. Genetic engineering. Cloned dinosaurs. Mad scientists wanting to eradicate the human race. It’s all thrown in to the mixer together and out comes a film which has little context, little meaning and virtually no structure. The script should have kept it simple but goes for broke and loses everything in the process.

Corman stumped up a bigger budget for this than he usually did for his derivative straight-to-video trash but it doesn’t show. Ultimately, what lets the film down is the quality of the special effects because as baffling as the plot threads are, the bottom line is that people like me paid to see cheesy monsters eating people. Yet the dinosaurs are ridiculous – an unconvincing mix of hand puppets, full blown immovable models or, quite literally, monsters-on-sticks at times. The early attacks are quickly edited together, giving the audience tantalising glimpses of the dinosaurs. But the dinosaurs are wisely kept off-screen as long as possible because once you begin to see them in all of their natural glory, the illusion of greatness wears off and you can see how woeful they are. The climactic fight between a guy driving a bulldozer and a huge T-Rex may have been better re-enacted by a child playing with some free toys that they got inside a hamburger meal.

Gore is plentiful and seems to have been thrown around with reckless abandon in the hope of papering over the obvious problems with the film. In the film’s highlight scene, a gang of eco-warriors chain themselves to some heavy machinery at night in order to protest when the workmen arrive the next morning. When they failed to realise was that dinosaurs are roaming the country and so unable to free themselves, the eco-warriors transform themselves into a dino-buffet. As expected, the gore is gratuitous and a little over-the-top but if you don’t know what you’re getting when you sit down to watch a Roger Corman film, then you have no business being on this site.

 

Carnosaur is a cheap and tacky sci-fi-horror affair which is as dreadful as it sounds. Rex the dinosaur from Toy Story is scarier and more realistic than these puny specimens. Sadly, the film was modesty successful and spawned a further couple of sequels. And footage from all three films was re-used in Raptor. There seems to be no escaping the low budget dinosaur invasion.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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One single comment

  1. kloroxx says:

    An entertaining little B-Movie! I like this one and its first sequel :-)

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