Carnosaur (1993) — Beating Jurassic Park to the punch

“That’s really fabulous. It’d make a great theme park.”

Justin’s rating: Dino nuggets with tar dipping sauce

Justin’s review: There’s a singular phenomenon surrounding this film, and maybe it’s just limited to me, but I can’t be too sure. What I’m talking about is the fact that whenever you hear the title of this film, it becomes irresistible to say “CARNOSAURRRRRR!”

Also, if you make growling noises after you say this, it adds to the effect.

I’ve been saying it a lot. For about a week now. Carnosaur was on my rental list for a while — I vaguely remember seeing it way back in the mid-’90s — but not until I knew it was coming to a TeeVee Near Me did I start getting worked up about it. There the DVD would sit, on my desk, and every time my eyes passed over it:

“CARNOSAURRRRRR!”

I even put that on my answering machine. It’s about the most fun thing in the world to say.

This Roger Corman production makes me proud to be a film lover. In a shameless attempt to earn a quick buck, Carnosaur was thrown together and launched into theaters before that other dinosaur movie hit the screens in 1993. The filmmakers figured people were so hyped on dinos that they’d eagerly pay to buy into a cheesy camp knockoff in advance, and you know what? They were right. Carnosaur didn’t do $100 mil-plus, but it did well enough to warrant sequels and ingrain itself into our entire society.

Your — and my — expectations might be low going into this film (which is titled “CARNOSAURRRRRR!” just in case you forgot), but it’s pretty entertaining for all its low-budget splendor. A Mad Scientist brings back ravenous carnosaurs by genetically modifying chicken eggs. Or something. She also unleashes a wacky plague upon the world that causes women to give birth to the carnies, which sort of kills the girls, but at least you get a cute little merchandising toy out of it. This is all based off of a (supposedly) real novel, so there’s some measure of thoughtful imagination behind the traditional monster rampage.

Carnosaurs get all antsy without some small, isolated community to mess with, so it’s a good thing that there’s a small, isolated community nearby. Our main heroes are a drunk night watchman named Doc and a hippie named Thrush, but they are not worth your devotion. They, and the other extras, and the carnosaurs themselves are pretty much only good for cheap laughs until the guy with the fake gore gets to the shooting location. Squirt them ketchup bottles everywhere!

For variety’s sake, you can turn to the Mad Scientistess herself, but she doesn’t have any other settings than Ponderous Philosophic Scientist Ramblings. You really do wish her ill after about the second full minute of “humans must die because dinos are the perfect species,” yet the single armed character in the vicinity doesn’t do squat.

As for the carnosaurs themselves, they just lumber around in either Puppet Mode, or — when the budget expands briefly — Stop Motion Animation. Since they hardly ever pull back to show a full head-to-toe profile, the size of Mr. Carny Sore is hard to ascertain. But what’s five inches or twelve feet of fake rubbery skin between friends?

I really don’t think I need to present any more evidence than the title name to induct this film into the annals of enjoyable tripe, but if you need some more convincing, Clint Howard gets his head bitten clean off. It’s not a spoiler, since his character doesn’t exist for anything other than an FX sequence, but it’s so cathartic to witness.

At little over a mere 80 minutes, Carnosaur has all the makings of a quick guilty pleasure that your significant other will come home to and suspect you’ve been up to something, something Mesozoicy, but they’ll have nothing to pin on you except your new-found disgust of chickens.

In closing: “CARNOSAURRRRRR!”

Didja notice?

  • “Roger Corman Presents” — That’s a seal of quality!
  • Carnosaur is based off of a very real novel!
  • Dead chickens are kinda creepy
  • Coca-Cola product placement
  • Squinty Clint Howard!
  • I can’t let anyone in or out… but hey, go ahead, I’m sure you’re not driving the truck with the Poultrysaurus
  • Dancing chickens on the billboard
  • The green Carnosaurus-vision
  • The girl THIEF being all high-and-mighty cause her captor drinks
  • Ooh! A wound sample in the mail! I can’t wait!
  • It’s the lady who was Dr. Venkman’s ESP experiment subject in Ghostbusters. And she scowls a lot.
  • Always good to have a hippie dinosaur Earth girl around when you need convenient musings about long-dead dinosaurs that are soon to be resurrected.
  • Those green “info paragraphs” that keep popping on the screen. They’re nifty.
  • Can someone explain to me why Washington D.C. guy is lying on the table while people are eating?
  • Strobe lights are dinosaurs’ only natural enemy
  • Doc rocks. Shoot them hippies.
  • Pregnant women are fun to mess with.
  • Shaking your thick, meaty leg in front of a carnosaur’s mouth is probably not going to make it go away. It’s probably not going to help anything. Well now you don’t have your leg anymore. Happy? Oh, stop screaming.
  • Carnosaur vs. Puppy!
  • Six dudes in a tent deciding the fate of humanity, that’s leadership
  • The water dish the mad scientist puts by her when she goes into labor
  • The plague gives the costume department plenty of excuses to break out their yellow rain slicker bio-suits.
  • “You were dreaming” Yeah, you THINK? You WOKE ME UP!
  • Carnosaur vs. Construction Machinery
  • Say “cheese” when you die!

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