Carnosaur (1993)

We’ve seen it all before.

Not that that means it’s bad.

In fact, Carnosaur, in its own low budget way is as agreeably strange a dinosaur on the loose movie as anyone has ever made.  Roger Corman made this as his answer to Jurassic Park and it is the sort of answer that leaves you wondering what the heck the question was in the first place.

By the 1990s and his efforts at New Horizons, Roger Corman had settled into the churning-celluloid-out-for-cash mode which has defined his career ever since.  Most of these films lack any hint of creativity or originality.  Ironically, when one looks at the curious history of some of his films from the 70s, like Targets, one can see the seeds of his current arc, with only the talent of those around him and the relative freedom they were allowed holding back the wall of meh that was about to engulf them.

But even in the 90s New Horizons could still turn out something that was well worth a midnight viewing or two.

Carnosaur, of course, involves genetically engineered dinosaurs.  Well, we knew that already.  And chickens, which is a little less obvious.

We know that the lab creating these genetically engineered dinosaurs is going to lose control of them – that’s what happens in any Jurassic Park ripoff, after all – but here their release isn’t an accident, and there is something far stranger going on.

One could analyze the film as a vast collection of stolen bits – one notes, for example, hints of both Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens, a brutal biowarfare containment exercise eerily similar to that in George Romero’s The Crazies – and a downbeat ending borrowed from another Romero film.

But no mad scientist has ever offered such a totally bonkers scheme – and Diane Ladd’s mad scientist is one of the most appallingly normal evil genius’ ever put on film – and you have to remember that her evil plan involves accepting the hideous results of her own plague with complete and utter calm.

And then there are the dinos, which aren’t as convincing as Steven Spielberg’s, but we obviously don’t expect that.  Nor is the gore, but there’s a lot more of it.  But the final battle between dinosaur and Bobcat tractors is fun.

On the whole an entertaining minor film.  Yet one is left wondering at the lunatic environmentalism of its evil plan.  Unlike the very similar plan in the Doctor Who episode Invasion of the Dinosaurs, no one’s going to be around to appreciate the new improved world.  And if she only included a pinch of human intelligence in her dinosaurs, then doesn’t that merely mean that they’ll be too dumb to notice the environmental harm they’re doing?

Certainly their SUVs are going to have to be a lot bigger.

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