The Guilty Pleasure Pile: Carnosaur 2

Science Fiction, Action; 1994; 83 minutes; U.S.; Directed by: Louis Monaeu; Produced by: Mike Elliot; Executive Produced by: Roger Corman; The Pacific Trust; New Horizons Home Video

Actual Quality

Guilty Pleasure Quality

In 1993, Roger Corman’s Carnosaur compared itself greatly to Jurassic Park, which in turned showed signs that Spielberg was more directly inspired by Comran to come into the world of executive producer and increasing his quantity of film in his filmography. It was a rather unlikely turn of events, but it happened. Elements from Carnosaur were even taken and placed in a mock script for Jurassic Park IV, which greatly infuriated fans in 2003 when they thought that it was the actual production script for the film; a film which never came came to realization in any form of production as of yet.

Corman quickly went into production with the sequel simply titled Carnosaur 2 much faster than Spielberg came to production with his sequel film The Lost World: Jurassic Park. In fact, the film was released in 1994, only roughly one year after the release of the both the first Carnosaur and Jurassic Park films and 3 years before Spielberg would release his Jurassic Park sequel in 1997. Despite Corman’s film again starring dinosaurs, the film’s creative team decided to take a different approach to their sequel film by “paying homage” to the techniques and films of director of James Cameron, specifically his 1986 film Aliens and 1991 film Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Carnosaur is a sequel ripping off both an Alien sequel and a Terminator sequel, and was released during the announcement of a Jurassic Park sequel. Considering the first installments to all of these three franchises, that’s a scope of at least 8 movies. And that’s not considering the other sequels that all four of these franchises later put into production. Could this review get anymore crowded?

But we need to at least consider the first Carnosaur film for this review. The first movie left off with a mad scientist resurrecting dinosaurs to the modern age. Whereas all two of the dinosaurs roaming about died in that movie, there were still plenty of unhatched dinosaur eggs waiting to cause all sorts of chaos. Carnosaur 2 springboards from that idea and introduced a kid who learned how break into top-secret government mining buildings to find some dynamite with that cool little device the young John Conner used in Ternimator 2 to break into his foster parent’s bank account. Upon seeing this, one has to wonder if Roger Corman didn’t just buy that nifty little prop from James Cameron for this movie. In fact, much about this kid reminds me of the young John Conner in Terminator 2. The age he acts (as opposed to the one he looks), his attitude, his techno know-how, even his hair cut all seem to be pulled right from young Conner in T-2 and slapped onto this kid in C-2.

Arms and heads are the only appendages the film can afford to loose.

After the kid learns how to drive a backhow by just opening the door with a built-in remote control (which you know he’s gonna use to fight a big monster later on), the kid gets reprimanded by his uncle for breaking into his place of work. The two go out for that “let’s talk about your life, kid” dinner at the mine’s cafeteria when a dinosaur breaks in (who now has squeezed aspect ratio P.O.V. Rather than the night-vision P.O.V. They had in the first film) and kills everybody except the kid. This is all discovered the next day when a group of technicians who are, for some reason or another, not a part of the secret government agency, as they go into the mine to repair some damaged power lines while being supervised by a government official who likes to dress like a used-car salesman. They see the whole place has been deserted and only find the one kid who is still paralyzed in shock over the whole ordeal.

This is where the film becomes very Aliens in its appearance, with the kid taking on the role of the little girl, the one government official resembles the greedy lawyer, the dinosaurs are, of course, the xenomorphs, and the way it sets up all of the events in such a way so that all of only a certain amount of the cast survive the incident. And, of course, all hope of using the before mentioned dynamite to beat the dinosaurs is completely halted when the cast find out that the dinosaurs are kept in the same mine as where nuclear weapons were stashed after the Cold War. Which begs the question, what kind of operational mine is safe as a place to store nuke heads? And why is it in the same place as dinosaurs? The government was just asking for trouble with this plan.

The performances were surprisingly better for a film of this caliber. One can really see the passion for sci-fi that this creative team had behind this flick, making it feel like a well loved homage to the techniques of James Cameron, rather than a mindless rip-off. But at the same time, it’s odd because films like this were known for trying to break away from Hollywood traditions and content restrictions based solely on marketing needs.

The special effects are somewhat of an improvement as well, as there are more full-sized puppets and suits for the Raptors and even parts of the T-Rex. But toward the end of the movie the film still has to resort to miniature puppets and even a couple of re-used dinosaur shots from the first Carnosaur film.

And the things that’s cool about this movie also becomes it’s greatest down-side in the end. Because it just about follows Cameron’s Aliens in every aspect, it causes all sorts of plot holes within the world and circumstances that Carnivores 2 was set in. The epically heroic suicide bombing is reenacted, and the kid shortly takes on the role of Ripply in Aliens as he duels a T-Rex with the backhoe in an obviously needless fight scene. Seriously, at any point before the duel the kid just could have escaped very easily.

In the end, Carnasaur 2 was better than what was to be expected. The performances were solid and never distracted from the film even though they were not always convincing, the lighting and set design was better than most of Corman’s other flicks, and the effects were a grade above the first film. Even though this isn’t as knowingly over-the-top in its concepts as the first film was, I feel the elements in the sequel were better handled as a whole, and easily is the best of the Carnosaur franchise based solely on its techniques rather than its content. Though the first film will always be the ultimate source of exaggerated and bizarre sci-fi concepts within the dinosaur sub-genre.

The T-Rex fighting a yellow earth-mover is oddly more similar to the climax in James Caermon's "Aliens" than it is to the climax of the first "Carnosaur" film.

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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.

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