COMPANY: New Horizon
RUNTIME: 83 mins
FORMAT: Special Edition DVD
PLOT: A mad scientist brings carnivorous dinosaurs back to life to set them loose on the world in a bid to destroy humanity and give the world back to the Dinosaurs. To help them along, she also unleashes a deadly dino-virus to infect the women half of humanity.
REVIEW: There are many movies that solidify themselves into your mind as being associated with a particular time in your life. For me, one of those movies is Carnosaur. And the time of my life it always reminds me of? Grade 10 of High School when I first started getting into low budget B-movies. Actually, this is was one of my all-time first low budget B-movies, and for that, I'll always hold a special place in my heart for it.
I've been a huge dinosaur nut ever since I was 3 years old. Possibly even before that, but my memory of being one goes back to when I was 3 (Yes, I actually remember this) and I saw my very first look at a dinosaur – a rubber (and I've since been told a very annoyingly squeaky) toy Triceratops. My parents bought it for me and from that moment on, my life's biggest passion was born – Dinosaurs. Growing up (and still to this day), I have to see anything that has dinosaurs in it, no matter how good or bad. As a kid, that wasn't really a problem – until 1993 when my 8-year-old eyes befell a little VHS tape on the video store shelf called Carnosaur. The dinosaur on the cover looked just awesome (again, at the time and to my kid eyes), as I had never before seen a live-action dinosaur beyond old black and white movies (side note: When I saw Jurassic Park for the first time later that very same year, it blew my friggin' little mind). I looked at the pictures on the back of the box and instantly knew I just had to see this movie. However, when I went to go bring it to my parents to rent it for me, they had forbidden it because it had the dreaded R Rating that has a long and evil history of stopping many young kids in their tracks. Now, to my young mind, I couldn't understand why a dinosaur movie - something I had thought was a topic that was always kid-friendly - was R Rated. Over the years, I kept seeing not only Carnosaur but it's growing number of sequels – first Carnosaur 2 and then Carnosaur 3: Primal Species, always checking out the pictures on the back and thinking how awesome these movies must be. Then in 2001, once I entered Grade 10 in High School and I was able to go out and rent what I wanted, the next time I saw the Carnosaur VHS tape sitting in that video store, I snatched it up and watched it.
And yes...it was bad. Very bad. Horrible. Dreadful even. And I loved every minute of it.
From the get-go you know this will be a very dark movie as we open on a scene of chickens in some kind of factory being caged up and prepared for slaughter, along with images of coded DNA sequences and hints of some kind of gene splicing, all playing to very overly-dramatic dark music. We then we see living chickens from that same place get shipped out in the middle of the night on a truck, where a very badly-obvious puppet baby dinosaur hatches from a large egg in the shipment (which was created on purpose by the movie's resident mad scientist as a means to destroy the world...some how...). It proceeds to slaughter every last chicken before moving onto the driver and then escaping out into the desert.
And thus starts a chain of events that includes, but is not limited to, carnage-filled dinosaur attack of a group of partying teens, tiny baby dinosaur being found in an egg about to be cooked for breakfast, a dinosaur ripping off someone's head, women getting extremely sick from a mysterious flu-like illness, hippies that had chained themselves to construction vehicles as a statement getting slaughtered by a dinosaur, the police trying to solve the mysterious deaths, a woman giving birth to a baby dinosaur, Alien-style, a mysterious group of hazmat-wearing government soldiers killing everyone in their path, and an escaping fully-grown Tyrannosaurus Rex who's head is apparently strong enough to break down a very thick solid stone wall with no damage or pain to itself.
Sure, the script itself makes no sense in the slightest (my descriptions above offer about just as much of an explanation as the movie does for these events), and the acting is what you would expect from a low-budget direct-to-video movie of the early 90's, but there is more then enough gratuitous gore at the hands...err...claws... of the badly-animatronic and puppeted (and in some scenes even rubber-suited) Tyrannosaurus and baby Raptor, with enough horrible and useless dialog that seemed like it was just thrown in there at the last minute with no thought to it (the Jurassic Park reference FTW though), to make any lover of bad movies enjoy this one on at least some level. There's even a very awesomely-bad scene towards the end where we see the Tyrannosaurus Rex fight against the main character in a construction vehicle.
As I said above, this is one dark movie. The tone was set from the opening seconds and it kept that tone right through the entire movie. Just about the entire thing takes place either in a dimly-lit laboratory building or in the darkness of night with the exception of one or two short scenes, and along with our dinosaur killing spree, we also have women coming down with a new sickness and giving birth rather rapidly to baby killer dinosaurs, along with the Government stopping at nothing to stop that sickness from spreading, even if it means murdering everyone. There's also constant pop-up subtitle updates throughout the movie the keep track of how much the sickness has spread, which I thought was a delightfully dark and cheesy thing to do, although I'm sure it's real reason was more-so to just remind the viewer of the side-plot of the sickness when the movie was focusing on a different aspect. Even the ending is one of the most downer and depressing endings to a movie I've ever seen, and was probably the only real way they could have ended this while keeping faithful to the the tone of the rest of the movie. Any other ending would have almost felt like a cop-out.
The only real problem I have is with the characters. Nobody really gets any characterization except for maybe the mad scientist lady. Even the main character himself feels more like a side-character, which I guess isn't really that big of a problem simply because nobody at all is likeable in this movie, including that very same main character. Sure, that also helps add to the dark and depressing tone of the movie, but it was something I wish they had gone in a different direction with. A movie like this really needs a good likable lead character to get behind and root for, especially with a scene like the one I describe above where he climbs into a construction vehicle to battle with the Tyrannosaurus at the end. The only exception I could maybe give is to the town's Sheriff, but really, he was only in all of about 4 scenes, all of which were very short. However, in his very limited time he proves that he is one total bad ass, as right in the middle of town square he blows the rubber head off the Raptor after it's already struck a killing blow to him and he's holding onto his life just long enough to kill the damn thing. Now that's our true hero of this movie, and he ended up hardly being in it.
There was also one scene that went on way too long (a good quarter or more of the movie) where the mad scientist lady proceeds to explain her entire plan to our main 'hero' while he has a gun pointed at her, and the two have a nice little 20-minute chat about it all. I half-expected someone to pull up a table and a set of chairs and offer them tea and crumpets. That entire scene went on way too long and was also quite boring after the first couple minutes. It was a bit of a stumble in an otherwise well-paced movie.
That one section of the movie, unlikable characters, and 0 characterization aside, this is one really fun, albeit quite depressing, low budget bad movie that makes for an excellent drinking game movie with a room of friends one rainy weekend night.
8/10 rooms in the Psych Ward
A note on the Special Edition DVD: This is marked as a Special Edition DVD and thus you would think it would be different then the regular DVD, but really it's not, beyond having 'Special Edition' branded down the left hand side of the cover. That is literally the only difference, so if you already own the regular DVD and see the Special Edition version out and about, you won't gain anything by picking it up again.