Carnosaur (1993)

Do we really need to go over just how much this movie rips off Jurassic Park? No? Okay, good.

Saying that Roger Corman makes his pay check on the backs and creativity of others is stupidly redundant. Redundant like saying, “Armageddon sucks!” Unfortunately, whenever Corman steals a concept he always runs with it beyond the borders of sanity and good taste, all the way into that Other World. Corman World.

Oh, ’tis a vile, evil place, where malformed monsters writhe and seethe in ever lasting flames that burn, but do not consume. This is a land where Humanoids from the Deep is considered a good film. A good feminist film, in fact. And It Conqured the World replaces Citizen Kane.

Back to the subject: Carnosaur. Lordy, lordy, Carnosaur. This is a tough movie to watch in more ways than one, displaying the same kind of stomach churning carnage and disregard for human life that Corman (and his lackeys) showed in Humanoids. At least the dinosaurs never rape anyone. Still…

Somewhere in the southwest (where all Bad Moviemakers go), trouble’s a-brewin’. The chickens of the southwest are getting their revenge! Colonel Sanders, they’re gunnin’ for your ass, man and they’re pissed off, too! There’s nowhere to hide, Colonel. Where’s your army now, huh? Huh?

Oh, sorry. That was a little fever dream I had. What can I say? I just watched a Roger Corman movie. Not everything’s back to 100% yet.

So, no, the chickens will not be getting their revenge. Instead, an even greater injustice is done to them by one Dr. Jane Tiptree (Diane Ladd). Tiptree, good Mad Scientist that she is, has used government Black Ops funding to genetically engineer dinosaurs out of chicken eggs. Dr. Tip, you see, is not really a “people person.” With the teeming thousands of mutant eggs she’s already manufactured and (somehow) released into general circulation (who says gene splicing’s difficult? Fuck you and all your money, John Hammond. And fuck your annoying grandkids, too.), plus a mutated super-retro-we-have-no-idea-what-these-words-mean virus, Dr. Tipper plans to decimate the human race, allowing dinosaurs to once again rule the world.

And you know what? That might be enough. One could build a half-decent sci-fi/horror picture out of all these elements. Hell, David Cronenberg’s used them to build an entire career. But at least Cronenberg’s films take place in worlds populated by people who aren’t idiots. With all the idiots running around Carnosaur‘s world, the damn lizards are welcome to it. Do I even need to point you towards the plot holes? For one thing, wouldn’t there be tight controls on any and all materials Dr. Tippsy’s toiling away on in her ee-vil lab? So as to prevent, say, unleashing a pack of hungry dinosaurs upon the unsuspecting populace of the American Southwest?

Ah, but if that were the case, there’d be no movie, would there? No. What am I doing even dreaming of a competent government-sponsored Super Science research program. My word, what a strange dream. Thankfully, in a nod to reality few directors have the balls to show, our uniform-wearing, gun-toating, women-and-fag-bashing overlords in the New World Order become pretty adept at killing civilians once the super virus gets out and word of the outbreak reaches HQ. Kudos to you, writer/director Adam Simon. I know I keep calling this a “Corman” film, since he produced it and his oily hand is all over the exploitation and special effects elements displayed, but since this is nominally Simon’s show I might as well heap some bile upon his head.

Simon needs to go back to school, learn how to write and direct. But then, talent is never a prerequisite where Roger Corman productions are concerned. Underdeveloped, idiot characters bump into each other, say things the poor sound quality doesn’t allow me to hear, and either (a) die or (b) . . . well . . . die. That’s it. That’s the entire flick, and as rip-offs of Jurassic Park go…at least it’s not as manipulative, insipid, and insane as The Lost World.

That’s another thing, possibly the only thing I can unabashedly enjoy about this flick: everybody dies. If they aren’t killed by the giant rubber dinosaurs they’re shot by some shady government agency that cleans up Dr. Tipper’s mess. Would that said agency (be they Resident Evil‘s STARS or Hellboy‘s BPRD or the Vast Conspiracy FBI Agents Mulder and Scully are continually fighting) had broke the bounds of reality and sprayed the film crew with a few rounds, just to keep them honest.

What a mess, too. As mentioned, Carnosaur is gore-riffic, and, at the same time, embarrassingly shoddy. Puppeteer’s hands, camera operator’s hands…hell, maybe even the director’s hands are visible during the show. It’s damn funny at first. Then, it gets depressing. How could so many people be so blind to such obvious flaws?

Why, they had to get this on the shelves before Jurassic Park came out on video. That’s how.

At least Diane Ladd gets to sink her teeth into this Mad Scientist thing, complete with pontificating speeches and all the ham a T-rex can swallow. The fact that she’s a Woman Mad Scientist is one of the few dynamic shifts away from Corman’s classic works of the 50s and 60s. No one else in the cast is even interesting (or concise) enough to mention, not even our “hero,” who ends things inside a bachoe, fighting a manly-man’s mano-a-mono dual against a giant T-rex puppet sure to make Stan Winston weep tears of disgrace at the state of his professional compatriots. Can you smell the tension? Can you smell the Aliens rip-off?

Supposedly, all this idiocy was based on a novel. A British novel. I find that hard to believe. After all, no book is this bad, not even a British one. The production is cheep, the effects suck, the gore is gratuitous, everybody dies, and you walk away from your TV feeling depressed. That high ledge overlooking downtown’s busiest intersection just keeps looking better and better all the time. If I wanted that, I’d watch CNN.

Or I’d contemplate the fact that this movie has 2 sequels and counting. God help us all.


4 thoughts on “Carnosaur (1993)”

  1. First, I do enjoy your reviews. And this one about Carnosaur – which ranks only a 3.something on IMDB is one of your best. Funny, accurate and sly (and by ‘sly’ I mean that you hit all the right notes). Saying that – I think Carnosaur is one of the most under-rated dinosaur movies made. Yes, it’s a Jurassic Park rip-off and thank goodness!. Carnosaur remembers that ‘real dinosaurs movies’ don’t coddle their prehistoric beast in pseudo-science logic – they just let them go rampant – chomping and stomping and creating havoc. Corman does B movies best. Love the dark solace reign of Diane Ladd.

    I’m doing a piece for a national paper in time for Jurassic World – both in print and broadcast. Will be celebrating this film as one of the best – but will acknowledge that there are others who feel quite different.

    Still love your piece – can’t disagree with your take – I just have to confess (or admit) to actually liking – almost loving – the movie.


    1. Excellent – confession is good for the soul. Gimme three Hail Marys and an Our Father and we’ll call it even. Though I will be a little sad if your piece doesn’t also mention the now-classic 1960 film Dinosaurus! (the exclamation makes the title).

  2. I kinda enjoy this movie 🙂 The first time I saw it, as a teenager, I was like “wtf is this crap”, but now i think it’s fun and entertaining, a nice B-movie !

    1. I more-or-less agree now, with the aid of perspective. And besides, it could always be worse – it could be Carnosaur 2.

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