Dino Dicember #7: Carnosaur (1993)

Another famous one, the first Carnosaur movie, another example of good ol’ Corman’s craftmanship , as he throw this one together very fast, even by its own standards, just to have it out in theathers before Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. A tradition of knock-offs (and “mockbusters” before the term itself was coined) that can’t even wait for the movie they’re knocking off to be released, with scripts written on a bar napkin and then pushed into production, as they damn well knew they wouldn’t survive direct competition in theaher, a legacy carried on by The Asylum in the last decade.

With somehow worst results, but let’s stay on topic.

So, since – by matter of fact – they didn’t/couldn’t know in detail the plot to Jurassic Park at the “Corman Headquarters”, Carnosaur had to copy what they did known and could get away with, in this case the “resurrecting dinosaurs” aspect, and being based on a book (in this case by Josh Brosnan). There’s no amiable old scientist opening a park with genetically reborn dinosaurs in it, too, but Jane Tiptree (played by Diane Ladd, mother of Laura Dern), firm believer in the “mankind is the real cancer plaguing the planet” spiel, who instead of just messing with chicken DNA to make tastier drumsticks as the company Eunice wants her to, tampers in God’s domain and makes dinosaurs. And make a virus to make women pregnant with dinosaurs.

It’s up to a boozed ex-doctor hired by Eunice to quash activistis protesting a mining site, and one of the activists, to face the dino rampage, uncover who or what’s behind it… and then die like dogs in a surprisingly downer ending that’s feels a lot was cut out and rushed as it it was, so burn the Mad Magazine image, credits, ship it now because we gotta beat Spielberg to the clock! And i’d say it was more a matter of time than money, as Corman was notoriously a wizard in this regard, able to produce movies cheap and fast, but really making the most of what he had available.

I mean, for just 1 million, creature designer John Carl Buechler (who would use similar effects in the later “sequels”) did a good job, and if the movie wasn’t made in such a rush, the creature effects could have been better, easily. Still, some of the flubs (like the famous “non-dino hand” making an actress stand still when it’s supposed to be the POV of a dinosaur) are noticeable, but for such a quick production on such a tight budget, gore and practical effects are surprisingly good. It might sound odd, but there’s a lot more effort here than most modern b-movies done for a cheap quick buck.

The movie itself (directed by Adam Simon) it’s definitely more a throwback to Corman own’s strain of 50/60s b-movies than a direct Jurassic Park knock-off, with creatures running amok, sheriffs fighting the dinosaurs/monsters, a mad scientist with an evil plan, the goverment doing very little and too much at the same time, and of course arriving when it’s too late anyway, etc.

It has a lot of fun scenes that help movies like these to be remember, like the “strobe discolaser lights illuminated T-Rex”, Clint Howard’s character eating a drumstick into a chicken coup and then being eaten by a dinosaur, Diane Ladd giving herself a c-section to let the baby dinosaur inside her come out like the baby xenomorph in Alien, and overall the dialogue and narrative being farcical, with people getting told not to do a thing, and then immediately doing the same exact thing, like the workers carrying the eggs and spreading the “dino virus” by directly sneezing at other people. XD

That said, one thing that’s weird as hell (and i’ve never seen before or after), is the fact that the virus makes human woman pregnant… not with dino-human fetuses, but with frigging eggs like it’s a horror-porn take on Yoshi’s Island or something. And the women die when pushing out the eggs, in order to wipe out humans and repopulate the Earth with dinos, sure, but still… what the fuck?

Of course, the movie didn’t review well at the time, and reasonably so, it’s crap, it is, with stupid characters, random forced romantic chemistry, the plot is full of non-sensical stuff and kinda resolves itself earlier than it should, but it’s entertaining crap with some odd ideas. Also, it’s a fairly short sit, clocking under 80 minutes, and for such a rushed production, it’s better than it should be. In time it has grown a cult film status, it broke even and turned out a profit at the box office (at least the american one), and there were two sequels, alongside 2 spin-offs.

Sadly it’s a bit harder to get a hold of today, at least in physical format. It got localized in my country, but the DVD is incredibly rare and old (at least the full movie it’s on Youtube, i watched it that way), there’s no Region 2 collection, not even an UK DVD release of the first one or the sequels, aside from Carnosaur 3, released under its subtitle “Primal Species” in the UK.

Just to fill the “confusing re-titling” quota for this review as well.

Regardless, we have the internet now, so look forward to the reviews of the Carnosaur sequels and spin-offs in the coming days!

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