What better time to break a lance for one of my favoured guilty pleasure creature features; but I would be amiss if I neglected to warn you ahead of time that the movie is Trash, with a capital T, so if you prefer clever, well thought out scripts, sophisticated acting, convincing FX work or just plain realistic looking sets, then don’t go any further, you won’t find none of that here, to the rest of us, those that can enjoy shoddy craftsmanship if only the presentation is entertaining enough, I’ll say step right in, I’ve got just the movie you: Carnosaur.
Carnosaur offers everything we’ve come to expect from a trash movie, a script mostly void of any logic sense, enough wild cuts and timeline jumps to make your head spin, and all that shot on a shoestring budget just high enough to dress about half of the movie sets.
Sounds awful yet?
Add to that a handful of random attacks by a remotely dinosaur shaped hand puppet, and you got a fair picture.
"Hey, doesn't that look like..."
"Indeed, my friend, so it does."
Why now, I hear you ask, would I recommend such a misbegotten creature of a movie?
Because the movie is fully aware of all these shortcomings. It is unashamedly pathetic and revels in its own cheesiness, and never falters at that. Instead of giving in to the temptation of turning this into silly, apologetic comedy, with the few times the filmmakers poke fun at their own work being done in such an underhanded way that it’s often misinterpreted for them being just as dead serious as they had the actors play out their parts. And it’s therein where the true entertainment value of Carnosaur lies, this is makes it worth to see actors scream in the face of being mauled by a rubber headed escapee from Jim Henson’s Studios, and to listen to them blurb out pseudo scientific nonsense, never once breaking stride.
The movie is bloody, pathetic and down right ridiculous with a plot that is hard to sum up without spoiling it, let’s just keep it at saying there’s the required mad scientist involved and this time around she’s got it in her head to create dinosaurs…
"My God is an acronym G.o.D - Generate or diversity."
I remember one movie magazine citing Carnosaur as “not the most expensive dinosaur movie ever shot, but probably the most gory.”
That’s a nice jab at Jurassic Park there, on whose unprecedented PR campaign the movie naturally wanted to cash in. And that brings us in a way to Harry Adam Knight’s original 1984 novel (the movie was shot almost ten years later in ’93), of which I would encourage you to read it regardless of what you think about the movie. The movie has not that much in common with Knight’s novel, it took a vast amount of liberties which left only the very bare bones of the story and supplanted them to an American setting actually. Further, similarities between Knight’s novel and Crichton’s Jurassic Park are few and far, no to mention that they wrote in completely different fields, not only speaking locals here, one playing out in the British countryside and the other off the coast of South America, but also with the Knight being a pulp writer, fast paced and gory with no discernible interest in actual science, so having read one doesn’t mean you won’t be able to enjoy the other on its own level.
It’s true that both use cloning as a base for their story, but that’s already where the comparison ends, that is, far as Jurassic Park is concerned, when it comes to JP 2 there are elements to both novel and movie that feel like lifted from Carnosaur. But truth is also that there are only so much ways a writer has to bring in dinosaurs: Genetic engineering or time travel devices usually, sometimes dimensional rifts and in seldom cases a post apocalyptic 1950’s world, those are the tools that usually lend themselves to the task; and some images are just more naturally bound to turn up than others.
Carnosaur, the novel, reminds me these days some of watching Primeval on TV, indeed one feels inclined to pose the question how much of that show is possibly on this book, and in other parts the book could have the inspiration behind Capcom’s survival horror game Dino Crisis. A last warning is in order, on top of being a fairly gory book Knight’s (male) characters seem to pretty generally detest women* and accordingly insulting is the books tone.
*This seems to be a common occurence with British writers, I recall seeing the same being said about James Herbert’s writing.