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Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

Raptor (2001)

"Fear will never be extinct"

Plot

A genetically-bred raptor escapes and kills a couple of people in a small town. The local sheriff and his assistant trace the attacks back to a research facility headed by Dr Hyde. It turns out that Hyde has a secret dinosaur cloning project which is being backed by shady foreign investors. When the Pentagon finds out, they send in two strike teams to neutralise the facility.

 

Sometimes you’ve just got to give people credit where credit is due. Roger Corman, the legendary producer with over three hundred low budget exploitation B-movies to his resume (as credited producer alone, he’s also written, directed and been executive producer on hundreds of other films too) must take a bow here. After producing the Carnosaur films, a trilogy of low budget dinosaur romps, Corman is back for a fourth bite at the cherry, though without using the 'franchise' name, and brought along fellow trash master Jim Wynorski to direct (masquerading here under a pseudonym). But here's what credit must be given to Corman - rather than shoot an entirely new film, most of Raptor is culled footage from the previous three Carnosaur films. The audacity of Corman and his cronies beggars belief! There's a reason this isn't called Carnosaur 4: because you've already seen it.


Raptor opens up with three teenagers sitting in a jeep and drinking beer. As soon as it came on I thought "I've seen this before" but couldn't place it. Then the dinosaur attack happened and I thought "this is similar to Carnosaur." The fact of the matter is that IT WAS Carnosaur. But it didn't stop there. Almost all of the major events that happen here (basically anything dino-related and some action set pieces) are simply stock footage scenes from the Carnosaur films. Instead of watching a new cheap dinosaur flick, I was just bombarded with the ‘best’ bits of the Carnosaur films (using the term ‘best’ lightly) and then given some meaningless dialogue and meaningless new scenes to string them all together and pad out the running time. To it's credit, Raptor integrates the old footage in with the new footage pretty well for the first half of the film and only a seasoned viewer like myself would spot the issue.


The hilarious thing is that they even hired the SAME actors from Carnosaur (which was made back in 1993 I hasten to add) to act out some new scenes and try and link the clips better together. So when their characters appear in stock footage, unless you had seen the previous films, then you wouldn’t know the difference. But this trick fails miserably because in one of the scenes, the security guard (played by Frank Novak) has more hair, is slimmer and appears a lot younger than he did in a prior scene. Simply because he starred in the original, he’s been re-hired to shoot some new footage – only now being a lot older, balder and fatter! The black actor, Harrison Page, who portrays the deputy, faces the exact same problem. In the original, he met an untimely death at the hands of the T-Rex. He’s been hired back to shoot some new footage but he meets exactly the same fate, holding exactly the same gun and wearing exactly the same clothes as he did in Carnosaur. He's been demoted since as he was a sheriff in that one! Eight years is a long time and unless you have a youthful appearance like Tom Cruise or Leonardo Di Caprio, then the results will be plain to see: trying to pass the same characters off like this looks absurd. It isn't just the actors themselves but the sets and the lighting set up which fluctuates massively from shot-to-shot depending on whether the footage is old or new.


Sadly, the use of so much previous footage gets the script all tangled up into knots it doesn't need. It makes no sense for the Pentagon to send in two different strike teams wearing different clothes to neutralise the facility either. Why did they send in two teams? Well a team was sent in to destroy the dinosaurs in Carnosaur 2 (wearing black) and another team was sent in Primal Species (wearing black and white camo). Low and behold, both teams re-emerge in this one wearing the same clothes, utilising the same tactics and inevitably meeting the same fate. A helicopter crash from Carnosaur 2 is re-used, though the cause here is ridiculous and far-fetched. The editing might be bad but there surely would have been better ways for the narrative to pan out - all it appears they've done is chosen the best bits from the previous films and written around them artificially, rather than trying to naturally come with a reasonable narrative and how to get from clip to clip.


The dinosaur footage is as good/bad as it was in the other films so if you haven't seen them, then maybe you'll laugh or be impressed in equal measure. As all of the riveting sock puppet dinosaur scenes have been lifted from earlier films, the new footage included is just there for padding and to join the dots. Look no further than the ridiculously overlong sex scene with Lorissa McComas romping down on the back of a pick-up truck. Although seeing the cosmetically-enhanced Miss McComas naked isn’t a bad thing, the fact that the sex scene lasts for around seven minutes is a tad unnecessary but does the required job of filling up more running time in between stock footage. Eric Roberts, in a new role created for this one, looks bored out of his head and silicon-enhanced Melissa Brasselle (sensing a theme here...) won't do anything except distract you from anything but her chest - and I don't mean that in a good way. They're ridiculously large and not attractive in the slightest, making scenes with her extremely awkward as everyone on-screen ignores the elephants in the room.

 

Final Verdict

I can tolerate stock footage being used when it doesn’t account for the majority of the running time. But when someone tries to present material as an entirely new film, it’s a dirty trick of the lowest order. Raptor is a total hack job – plain and simple. Did Corman not realise that the only people who’d pay to watch this rubbish are the same people who shelled out for his previous dino flicks and immediately regretted it? Oh yeah... he knew that. He's not a successful producer for nothing!



 

Raptor


Director(s): Jim Wynorski


Writer(s): Jim Wynorski, Michael B. Druxman, Frances Doel


Actor(s): Eric Roberts, Corbin Bernsen, Melissa Brasselle, Tim Abell, William Monroe, Harrison Page, Lorissa McComas


Duration: 81 mins




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