The Guilty Pleasures Pile: Carnosaur

Science Fiction; U.S.; 1993; 83 minutes; written and directed by: Adam Simon; based on the novel by: Harry Adam Knight; produced by: Mike Elliot; Executive produced by: Roger Corman; New Horizon Home Video

Actual Quality

Guily Pleasure Quality

There are some movies that defy all thought and predictions. Films that go beyond the boundaries set for them by their contemporaries. Films that literally boldly go where no respectable person has gone before. (Mainly because respectable people know better.) These are films that are so bad they’re good. You laugh at they’re vain attempts to make you care, the silly ideas that are meant to scare you, and performances that no one, not even the actors and director, seemed to know what they were going for.These are the films that find themselves in our Guilty Pleasures Pile, and though many on this film blog have already thrown stuff into the pile, I’m going to make my first contribution in a while to the stash with a little mockbuster film Roger Corman executive produced en lure of Jurassic Park called Carnosaur. In fact, it’s fun to see how these two franchises kept butting into each other’s territory.

Corman was known in the olden days as the director who looked for one thing from his actors and one thing only: Stand on the tape mark, you turd. Actually, he was a wonderful guy to work with and lot of fun, but you had to hit your marks. He didn’t care what your line sounded like, he didn’t care how you did what you did… he just wanted you to stand on the tape mark and say your piece so he can say “cut”.

Roger Corman directed less and less after a while and started to simply become just the executive producer of many of the films he released through New Horizons Home Video, a decision Steven Spielberg would emulate around the turn of the century with his own DreamWorks studio (though Spielberg cared a little more about his movies). And a few of Corman’s films as executive producer in the early 90’s was the Carnosaur franchise.

The film begins with live chickens being transported elsewhere when an animal (that apparently has night vision) attacks the vehicle, killing the driver. The cops, of course, blame it on a bobcat, but theories change quickly when the killings become more frequent and even more brutal.

Meanwhile some environmentalist hippies try and sabotage some earth-moving equipment at an oil site somewhere by merely walking on the property. They don’t really do anything, they just kinda walk right on in. The guy hired to keep the place safe, named Doc, chases them off and finds one of the hippies, a female who renamed herself from “Anne” to “Brush”, hiding under the backhoe. The two slowly form one of those love/hate relationships so common to anything else seen in other movies. But at least it wasn’t a sappy relationship.

I guess greeting giant reptiles the same way you would a Ninja Turtle isn't TOO weird for this movie.

But before any of that can happen the environmentalists return one night to simply chain themselves to the earth-moving equipment. The animal continues it’s killing fake blood thirsty spree as it approaches the environmentalists, who at first literally greeted the creature by saying “Greetings, green brother!” The animal responds by brutally ripping their heads and arms off, the same body appendages that will be lost throughout the rest of the franchise. This is also where the beast itself is revealed to the audience as the cheap miniature dinosaur puppet it really is, and the thrusting camera movement as the dinosaurs P.O.V. when it yanks at some chained-up random girl’s leg is exceptionally awkward. Brush survives the attack only because she locked herself in the backhoe at the beginning of the protest operation. The rest of the film involves the main characters of Brush and Doc investigating the killings and discovering the mad scientist responsible for releasing the dinosaur in the first place.

The film goes into the most bizarre plot twists I’ve ever seen in a sci-fi film, mainly involving elements that were taken from this film and placed in a fake Jurassic Park IV script that succeeded to infuriate Jurassic Park fans in 2003. But of course the basic gist of the plot is that the mad scientists wants the dinosaurs to take back the planet that life had originally given them millions of years ago. It doesn’t matter that this plot makes no sense, especially since according to the theory of Evolution the dinosaurs lost this planet fair and square without the assistance of “evil man”. In fact, anything resembling man wasn’t to come for another 60+ million years. Maybe if this film was basing it’s script on some form of Young Earth Creationism this plot would make more sense, since man would have had ample opportunity to kill off all the dinosaurs, making this whole “dinosaur’s revenge” idea make a little more sense. But this film firmly establishes itself in Macro Evolution, making any attempt to link man or even mammals to the cause of the dinosaur’s extinction completely senseless to the film’s plot structure*. That, and most Evolutionists aren’t as easily offended by the media as most Creationists would be if Hollywood/film in general would actually listen to them. (“It’s those crazy Christians’ fault for wanting to resurrect dinosaurs and kill off all of humanity!”)

(*We’re not going to get into a debate as to which theory best fits the fossil finds. This is just a commentary as to which theory would best fit the plot structure of this science fiction film.)

The film’s use of miniature dinosaur puppets is grossly obvious throughout the entire film, though there are a few scenes where a full-sized head, tail, and foot were used for close-up shots. But even in that scene the dinosaur looks cheap and the editing itself distracts terribly as it breaks all forms of continuity known to man.

The film promotional material says that the dinosaurs started breeding like rats, but the plot twist would suggest a different method. That, and there are only two dinosaurs the main characters have to kill in the whole movie, one of which is killed by using a Bob-Cat earth-mover. (Get it! It’s because bobcat animals were thought to be the killers at first, but now a Bob-Cat vehicle is killing the dinosaur!) The performances are nothing special, though not anything really bad either. In fact, it’s the only thing the brutal death scenes have going for them. (That, and the same body appendages getting torn off during each attack.) Diane Ladd’s performance as the mad scientist is kinda unnerving, but still mainly forgettable unless she’s assisting the breeding of the dinosaurs. (You’ll see…)

The production values are exactly what you’d expect from a movie with Roger Corman’s involvement, and the plot is as stupid and twisted as one would like it to be for a film of this caliber. In the end, it’s a very fun response to Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park film. And for as bad as the Carnosaur movies are, Corman was still able to make something Spielberg hasn’t done yet: The fourth movie in his dinosaur franchise.

It’s odd how closely Roger Corman and Steven Spielberg tried to emulate one another throughout the years, though for entirely different reasons. Spielberg even admitted that his decision to go into executive producing was in light of Roger Corman’s list of hundreds of films within his filmography, and that he needed to finally get cracking at making that quantity. He handed the directing of Jurassic Park III to Joe Johnson while Spielberg himself took on executive producing the film and, at the same time, focus on other films. Whereas Roger Corman executive produced an entire trilogy and a spin-off film based on the one film Spielberg released in 1993 based on getting the idea of making fast money from a popular trend. Not a bad idea, since the Jurassic Park franchise has grossed over 9 billion dollars since the release of the first film, and Corman’s technique of putting as little money as possible into these films generally pays off in the end, making it impossible for him not to make a profit.

And if anyone cares, yes. I will be reviewing the other two Carnosaur films and the 2001 spin-off film: Raptor.

A Tyrannosaurus Rex attempts to break through the walls containing it.

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About Stefan D. Byerley
Stefan D. Byerley is an independent filmmaker and freelance visual artist currently residing in North Carolina. He likes detailed storytelling, intriguing imagery, massive bloody violence, crying at the movies, and long walks in the park during the Autumn season.

One Response to The Guilty Pleasures Pile: Carnosaur

  1. Pingback: The Guilty Pleasures Pile: Carnosaur « Forced Perspective - Enlightened

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