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Raptor (2001)

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Score: 5/10

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 21 min.

Release Date: November 6th, 2001 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Jim Wynorski Actors: Eric Roberts, Corbin Bernsen, Melissa Brasselle, Harrison Paige, Teresa DePriest, Alexandra Raines, GiGi Erneta

T

hree college students are recklessly off-roading in their jeep when they’re attacked by a puppet-like raptor – a prehistoric beast cavorting around in the desert. It’s hysterically silly, watching people being torn apart by a rubber toy; the scene is intended to be intense, aided by rapid camera movements, plenty of literal intestinal carnage, and high-pitched screams. But instead, it’s incredibly funny.

Sheriff Jim Tanner (Eric Roberts, the only one who takes his part seriously) is called in to investigate the bloody deaths of a trio of twenty-somethings out in the arid region. Assisting him is animal control officer Barbara Phillips (Melissa Brasselle, whose supermodel figure and huge breasts don’t evoke realistic professionalism in the slightest), a specialist in wildlife attacks. “It wasn’t a cougar,” she asserts, as faraway screeching from a large reptile distracts the observing officials.

The culprit, a 150-200 pound hatchling, is a renegade experiment from Eunice Corporation, captained by the stern, unsympathetic animal behaviorist Dr. Hyde (Corbin Bernsen), who instructs his team of scientists to get the situation under control – to avoid police investigations. The government previously commissioned his organization, twelve years ago for the “Jurassic Storm Project,” before it was shut down and illegally restarted in the private sector. Chief assistant Karen (Teresa DePriest) assigns an unwitting poultry truck to quietly move out the remaining newborns, but another one escapes – this time a T-Rex. Scientist Lyle (Frank Novack) begins to doubt the legitimacy of his involvement in the corrupt company, while security head Josh McCoy (Grant Cramer) unapologetically aids in the cover-up.

Tanner’s daughter, Lola (Lorissa McComas), is assaulted by the genetically engineered T-Rex and thrown from her vehicle while fleeing. Traumatized, she’s comatose for a time, but is awakened by a recording of the dinosaur roaring. While the casualties apparently inspire sexual arousal for Barbara, who attempts to seduce the sheriff before returning to her house where she preps for a shower in the dark (providing an opportunity for Brasselle to prance around in undergarments), Jim abandons the rendezvous to snoop around at the Eunice headquarters. While struggling to get a search warrant, more bodies turn up, including one of Tanner’s deputies – this time with a massive dinosaur claw gored into his abdomen.

Green raptor-vision camerawork foretells of ambushes, Brasselle’s on-duty uniform always reveals midriff, and the dinosaur attacks are frequent and unintentionally hilarious. The dialogue is ludicrously pathetic, the acting can barely be described as acting (a military scrambling scene couldn’t be more generic, with barked orders, stiff movements, and “need-to-know-basis” conversations), the editing is terrible, and the dinosaur effects consist of very rubbery costumes (at times, the velociraptors waddle about like toothy ducks). But every bit of the low budget, B-movie mediocrity spectacularly adds to the hilarity.

Only a film manufactured with sincerity and no originality could have resulted in such a funny mess of near-exploitation silliness. It’s evident that “Raptor” is trying to copy the winning formula of the “Jurassic Park” franchise (and in a few sequences, “Aliens,” with expletive-spewing marines and a Power Loader rip-off with Roberts in a Bobcat), but the poor direction, rushed execution, and monetary deficiency is simply too detrimental to the project. Interestingly, the music, which is entirely forgettable, is credited to James Horner, not long after his Oscar win for “Titanic” (though much of it is recycled from previous Roger Corman-produced sci-fi schlock).

– Mike Massie

 

 

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