Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Adam Simon|
|Produced by||Roger Corman
John Brosnan (as Harry Adam Knight)
|Music by||Nigel Holton|
|Edited by||Richard Gentner|
|Distributed by||New Horizon Picture Corp|
|May 21, 1993|
Carnosaur is a 1993 science fiction horror film starring Diane Ladd as a mad scientist who plans to recreate dinosaurs and destroy humanity. The film is loosely based on the novel Carnosaur by John Brosnan (under the pseudonym of Harry Adam Knight) that was released in 1984, but the two have little in common. They share only a few scenes, the villain still has the same basic motive, and both contain explicit gore and violence. It was the only film based on a Brosnan novel to be produced in America. As it was released four weeks before the larger-scale blockbuster Jurassic Park, Carnosaur may be considered a "mockbuster". Diane Ladd's daughter Laura Dern was one of the stars of Jurassic Park.
The film grossed $1,753,979 at the box office and spawned two official sequels. The second film did poorly at the theater and the remainder were released direct-to-video. Stock footage from the first three films was used in the spin-offs Raptor and The Eden Formula.
Set in the American Southwest, Doc (Raphael Sbarge) is an alcoholic security watchman protecting digging equipment from environmental activists, though he befriends one of them named Thrush (Jennifer Runyon). Meanwhile, Dr. Jane Tiptree (Diane Ladd) of the Eunice Corporation is breeding a strain of extra large and fertile chickens by splicing their DNA with that of crocodiles, iguanas, albatrosses, vultures, pelicans, turkeys and ostriches. Unknown to the Corporation's sponsors however, Tiptree is impregnating several of the chickens with dinosaur DNA. One of her resulting creatures, a Deinonychus, escapes and kills the activists, as well as other civilians. Doc investigates and discovers that Tiptree is also creating a virus which causes women to fatally conceive baby dinosaurs, in order to wipe out humanity and thus allow Carnosaurs and Raptors to reclaim the Earth as their own. Tiptree dies giving birth to a baby raptor. After narrowly escaping a Tyrannosaurus and the lab, Doc takes Thrush to a house to recover and injects a serum to cure her. Doc battles the Tyrannosaurus with a skidsteer (an action that was repeated in the fourth sequel) before impaling it. The government infiltrates the community in order to "sterilize" the situation by shooting all the civilians, infected or not. Thrush dies from the virus, meaning that the serum did not work. Doc is shot and killed by government soldiers, who then burn his and Thrush's bodies.
John Brosnan was first approached to write the screenplay in mid-1991 by Roger Corman's wife Julie, who formalised the deal at Brosnan's drinking club, and drew up the contract on a bar napkin. As the film was meant to compete with Jurassic Park, Brosnan later wrote that he was taken aback when it was revealed that the film's budget would have only been $1 million. Although concerned that the restrictive budget would require a reduction in the amount of dinosaurs used, Corman assured him that he was free to write whatever he wanted, and that any modifications would be made in the final draft. Once Brosnan sent his first draft to Hollywood, he lost all contact with the film crew. His screenplay had in fact been heavily revised to the point where his credit had been reduced to "original story".
Creature designer John Carl Buechler was assigned to create the dinosaur models, under the supervision of amateur paleontologist Donald F. Glut. Buechler's special effects crew had only 10 weeks to complete both the miniature and full sized models, due to the film's limited budget. Also, many of Glut's suggestions were not incorporated into the dinosaur's final designs, as many of the models were already in various stages of completion when he was consulted. For the Tyrannosaurus rex, Buechler created numerous different sized props, including a pneumatically-operated creature measuring 16 feet in height, 25 feet in length and 450 lbs in weight, a 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) suit version and a 3-foot-tall (0.91 m) mechanical walking puppet. An 8-foot-tall (2.4 m) suit was made for the Deinonychus, as well as a 1-foot-tall (0.30 m) mechanized, walking mockup. Due to the low budget, Buechler could not create the full scale Tyrannosaurus model with standard sculpting and molding techniques; therefore, the Tyrannosaurus' understructure was built using L200, a light polyurethane foam, while the skin was crafted with urethane foam sheets. Miniature models for the Tyrannosaurus and the skid loader were used for most of the penultimate scene, as the full scale model was too inarticulate to fight the vehicle convincingly.
Carnosaur received a limited release theatrically from Concorde Films in May 1993. It ended up grossing $1,753,979 at the box office behind a $850 thousand production budget, making this a modest success
The film has been released on DVD by New Concorde Home Entertainment three times. The first release was a single disc release in April 2000. The company subsequently re-released the film in The Carnosaur Collection in 2001 and on a double feature DVD alongside sequel Carnosaur 2 in 2003. The last two versions are both currently out of print.
The feature film was heavily panned. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes noted that 11% of reviewers gave it a positive review. Gene Siskel gave the film a marginal "thumbs up," while Roger Ebert gave it "thumbs down" on Siskel & Ebert and even named it the Worst Movie of 1993; their difference in opinion was parodied in television show The Critic, where Ebert taunts Siskel by saying "you liked Carnosaur!" Although John Brosnan described the dinosaurs as "laughable" compared to the ones in Jurassic Park, and agreed that the film was "crap", he nonetheless wrote that it was "interesting crap", and credited it with raising greater awareness of the novel. He screened the film at a re-launch party for his novel, and stated that "I will no doubt take the lead in shouting abuse at the screen".
- Beverly Gray, Roger Corman: Blood Sucking Vampires, Flesh Eating Cockroaches and Driller Killers, AZ Ferris 2014 p 78
- Stomp Tokyo: Carnosaur review
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- Brian Raftery. "Now Playing: Cheap-and-Schlocky Blockbuster Ripoffs", Wired, 21 December 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
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- "Movie Magic" Creature Articulation: The Art of Imitation (1994), (Season 1, Episode 3)
- Glut, Donald F., Jurassic classics: a collection of Saurian essays and Mesozoic musings, McFarland, 2001
- "Carnosaur". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- "Carnosaur (DVD)". amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- "The Carnosaur Collection (DVD)". dvdempire.com. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
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- T-Meter Rating for Carnosaur (1993)
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- The Critic TV Show Quotes, Retrojunk, Accessed January 4, 2011.