Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Adam Simon|
|Screenplay by||Adam Simon|
|Story by||John Brosnan|
by John Brosnan (as Harry Adam Knight)
|Music by||Nigel Holton|
|Edited by||Richard Gentner|
|Distributed by||New Horizon Picture Corp|
|May 21, 1993|
|Box office||$1.8 million|
Carnosaur is a 1993 American science fiction horror film written and directed by Adam Simon. The film stars Diane Ladd, Raphael Sbarge, Jennifer Runyon, and Harrison Page. The film's plot revolves around a mad scientist who plans to recreate dinosaurs and destroy humanity. The film is loosely based on the 1984 novel Carnosaur by John Brosnan (under the pseudonym of Harry Adam Knight). The book and film have little in common, with the exception of the villain's same basic motive, and the explicit gore and violence. It was the only film based on a Brosnan novel to be produced in America.
The film was released to theaters on May 21, 1993 by Concorde Films, just four weeks before the larger-scale blockbuster Jurassic Park. As a result, Carnosaur may be considered a "mockbuster". Diane Ladd's daughter Laura Dern was one of the stars of Jurassic Park. Carnosaur grossed $1.8 million at the box office on a budget of $850,000. Film critic Roger Ebert named it the worst movie of 1993.
The film spawned two official sequels, Carnosaur 2 in 1995 and Carnosaur 3: Primal Species in 1996. The second film fared poorly at the box office and the remainders were released direct-to-video. Stock footage from the first three films was used in the spin-offs Raptor and The Eden Formula.
In a small town in the American Southwest, a mysterious plague befalls its citizens. Dr. Jane Tiptree, a scientist working for the Eunice Corporation, is secretly breeding a strain of extra large and fertile chickens by splicing their DNA with that of different animals. The sponsors of the corporation become suspicious of her research, but cannot legally interfere. One night during transportation of the chickens, a mysterious creature hatches from a chicken egg, kills the drivers and escapes into the night.
Doc Smith is an alcoholic security watchman protecting digging equipment from environmental activists, though he befriends one of them named Ann Thrush. Meanwhile, the creature, which turns out to be a mutant Deinonychus, goes on a killing spree, killing two truck drivers and a group of teenagers. One of the dead teenagers was the daughter of Jesse Paloma, an employee for Tiptree. Afraid of the truth about her research being leaked, she lures Paloma into a laser-protected dinosaur pen, where a full-grown mutant Tyrannosaurus in captivity consumes him.
Thrush and the other activists begin to protest by handcuffing themselves to the digging equipment. However, the rapidly growing mutant dinosaur appears and slaughters the activists while Thrush watches in horror. Doc finds Thrush in shock and brings her back to his trailer, where she is attacked by the dinosaur but survives. Doc locates a truck belonging to the Eunice Corporation. Pretending to be the dead driver, he talks to Tiptree on the radio and makes his way to her facility. Meanwhile, Sheriff Fowler discovers a dinosaur embryo in a carton of eggs and brings it into a lab to study.
Doc sneaks into Tiptree's lab and holds her at gunpoint, telling her to show him her experiments. She reveals that the infected chicken eggs are responsible for the town's mysterious illness, as they contain a lethal airborne virus that impregnates women with dinosaur embryos, which kill the host through a combination of fever and trauma after giving birth. The goal of this is to spread the virus around the world, driving the human race into extinction and allowing dinosaurs to rule the Earth once more. When news of the town's deaths reaches the Eunice sponsors, they trace it back to Tiptree. The government infiltrates the town and has it placed under quarantine. In order to sterilize the situation, all civilians, infected or not, are shot and killed on sight.
As the plague advances, a distraught Fowler wanders aimlessly into the streets after the implied brutal deaths of his daughter and wife by the virus. He encounters the rampaging Deinonychus mutant outside of a puppy kennel where he fatally wounds and kills the creature, but not before being mortally wounded by its sickle claw. Back at the lab, Tiptree reveals a serum that can cure the illness. Doc steals it tries to escape, accidentally ending up in her dinosaur pen. Tiptree releases the full-grown carnosaur from its laser bounds and it chases Doc. He escapes and the Tyrannosaurus breaks out of the facility. Tiptree is revealed to be infected with the virus and dies as she gives birth to a dinosaur mutant.
Doc returns to Thrush, who has fallen ill to the virus. The carnosaur makes its way to the construction site where Doc battles the creature with a skidsteer and with the help of a dying Thrush, impales and kills the dinosaur. Bringing Thrush back into the trailer, Doc injects her with the serum as she seemingly passes into a coma. However Doc is shot and killed by government soldiers, who then burn his and Thrush's bodies. Anticipating a new world order without females and an ongoing mutant plague, a military industrial complex envisions a male-dominated future and police state enforced by strict violence and propagated by artificial wombs.
- Diane Ladd as Dr. Jane Tiptree
- Raphael Sbarge as Doc Smith
- Jennifer Runyon as Ann Thrush
- Harrison Page as Sheriff Fowler
- Ned Bellamy as Fallon
- Clint Howard as 'Slim' Friar
- Frank Novak as Jesse Paloma
- Ed Williams as Dr. Raven
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.
Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 11% of reviewers gave it a positive review. Gene Siskel gave the film a marginal "thumbs up", and Roger Ebert gave it "thumbs down" on Siskel & Ebert. Ebert named it the Worst Movie of 1993. Siskel's endorsement of the film was mocked when the duo made a guest appearance on the animated television series The Critic.
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."
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.
Sequels and spin-offs
Due to the financial success of Carnosaur, a sequel, Carnosaur 2, was produced in 1995. The latter was a financial failure. As a result, the third movie in the franchise, Carnosaur 3, was released straight-to-video in 1996. Two spin-offs of the film appear in the form of 2001's Raptor and 2006's The Eden Formula. Every movie in the series following Carnosaur features stock footage from the first film.
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