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 two 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 and spawned two official direct-to-video sequels, and stock footage was recycled from all three films for 2001's Raptor.
A brilliant geneticist, Diane Ladd, plans to expose a lethal virus to every human being on the planet. Her objective: to destroy humankind in favor of her new strain of prehistoric dinosaurs. Two people stand in the way of her diabolical plan, a cynical night watchman and a lovely idealistic environmentalist. The two must overcome their differences long enough to uncover the scientist's scheme and fight her carnivorous creations in a desperate battle against the extinction of the human race.
- 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. Sterling Raven
- Andrew Magarian as Swanson
John Brosnan was first approached to write the screenplay in mid-1991 by Roger Corman's wife Julie, who formalized 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.
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 and on a double feature DVD alongside sequel Carnosaur 2 in 2003. The last two versions are both currently out of print.
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 with "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".
Differences from the novelEdit
- While the novel is set in Cambridgeshire, England, the film takes place in the American Southwest.
- The number of dinosaur species in the film is greatly reduced to only two. While the novel featured Deinonychus, Tyrannosaurus, Tarbosaurus, Megalosaurus, Dilophosaurus, Plesiosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Scolosaurus and Altispinax, the film only features Deinonychus and Tyrannosaurus.
- The heroes of the novel are a pair of romantically connected journalists, while in the film the heroes are a night watchman and an environmentalist who are not romantically involved for the majority of the film.
- The villain of the novel is male, while the film's villain is female (although there is a female antagonist in the novel.)
- The film's virus subplot is entirely absent in the novel.
- In the novel, the kills are initially blamed on a Siberian tiger. In the film, they are blamed on a Bobcat.
- Driven to extinction. Back for revenge.
- The main dinosaur in this movie is a Deinonychus but can be confused for the more commonly used Velociraptor. The other dinosaur to appear was a Tyranosaurus Rex.
- In addition to the many characters named after birds, two of the principals are named after science fiction writers. Dr. Jane Tiptree (Diane Ladd) - James Tiptree Jr. (the pen name of author Alice Bradley Sheldon) and 'Doc' Smith (Raphael Sbarge) - Edward E. Smith (Known as "Doc").
- The skin material of the full sized, mechanical T. Rex was fabricated by Kenneth J. Hall's company Total Fabrication. The process took five weeks.
- While Diane Ladd appears in this movie, her daughter, Laura Dern appeared in another dinosaur film, Jurassic Park.
- Shot in eighteen days.
- Diane Ladd worked a total of five days on this film.
- The Tyrannosaurus Rex effects were achieved by means of a miniature remote-controlled puppet, a man in a suit, and a full-sized, 16-foot-tall robot. However, only a handful of shots involved the full-size robot, which had too narrow a range of movements to be convincing. The man in the suit proved equally cumbersome and was scrapped. Thus, most F/X shots were accomplished with the remote-control miniature and even some hand puppets.
- Body count: 32.