Carnosaur (1993)
Carnosaur (1993)

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror Running Time: 1 hr. 23 min.

Release Date: May 21st, 1993 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Adam Simon, Darren Moloney Actors: Diane Ladd, Raphael Sbarge, Jennifer Runyon, Harrison Page, Ned Bellamy, Clint Howard, Frank Novak, Lisa Moncure

 


 

A

t the Advanced Research Projects Administration in Washington D.C., bureaucrats discuss the fact that they haven’t received any updates from the sequestered research of controversial and icy military biotechnology specialist Dr. Jane Tiptree (Diane Ladd), whose secretive work at the food sciences division of the Eunice Corporation in Nevada was given three years of unhindered R&D. In order to avoid losing access to patents, the ARPA can’t dig into her research for another 18 months. But her efforts to obtain samples from ostriches, vultures, iguanas, albatrosses, pelicans, crocodiles, turkeys, and more to genetically splice into chicken DNA proves questionable at best.

And at the Purex Poultry Plant, a division of Eunice, an escaped test subject quickly escalates the issue of private, unsupervised genetic experimentations – especially after a driver is attacked by something vicious and toothy. And, sure enough, the desert surrounding Climax, Nevada turns out to be an excellent hunting ground for Tiptree’s monstrous enterprise. As Sheriff Fowler (Harrison Page) investigates the chewed-up body of the truck driver, and construction vehicle yard nightwatchman Doc Smith (Raphael Sbarge) contends with environmental activists from a nearby commune – including cute blonde “Thrush” (Jennifer Runyon), who mischievously sneaks around the property – Tiptree’s carnivorous abomination rampages through the unincorporated wilderness.

“Attack of the killer poultry.” As a Roger Corman production, complete with a standard low budget (and a small role for Clint Howard), the rubbery Carnosaur puppet is immediately hysterical. Of course, the attack scenes are made even funnier by the copious amounts of blood, the cheesy viscera effects, and the terrible acting. When the murderous animal bites off the genitals of a urinating joyrider, and then launches itself through the windshield of a jeep, splattering gobs of crimson goo everywhere, it’s difficult not to laugh at the goofiness of it all. Amusingly, despite the poor quality and silliness of the assaults, there’s a considerable amount of violence. One sequence even involves a woman having her leg gnawed off and consumed by the dinosaur while she watches in confusion and horror.

“Greetings, green brother.” Had the actors taken their parts more seriously (the script needs some work as well), it might have been manageable to deal with the pitiful Carnosaur-vision angles, the camera cheats that make the monster appear larger or keep it partially out of frame, and the stiff ways in which it moves around or bares its teeth. Ladd is the only one who plays it straight, though her unwavering evilness is flat and unrealistic. Instead, every moment that can’t muster unintentional humor tends to feel wasted.

As can be expected from these kinds of Z-grade horror films, the gory deaths are the highlight, while the flimsy monster is good for chuckles. Little else poses much entertainment value (the film was rushed into theaters just a couple of weeks before “Jurassic Park”). Yet this particular venture was apparently successful enough to spawn two sequels (“Carnosaur 2” in 1995 and “Carnosaur 3: Primal Species” in 1996, followed by the very derivative “Raptor” in 2001), though it gets downright ludicrous when a chicken fever epidemic results in human women laying live Carnosaur babies. Plus, there are lulls in the pacing – boring spots for needless exposition – even though the running time is a mere 83 minutes, while the finale is nonsensically apocalyptic.

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10