ICFIFC: Carnosaurs As Far As The Eye Can See

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Monday, December 2, 2013

ICFIFC: Carnosaurs As Far As The Eye Can See

I am surprised I have never talked about this film before since it is one of my favorite films and one of the best mockbusters ever made, IMHO.

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"1.  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 and 2006’s The Eden Formula.

Carnosaur (1993)

  • Genre: Horror – Sci-Fi
  • Directed:
    • Adam Simon 
    • Darren Moloney
  • Produced:
    • Roger Corman 
    • Mike Elliott
  • Written:
    • John Brosnan (Novel “Carnosaur” as Harry Adam Knight)
    • John Brosnan (Treatment) 
    • Adam Simon (Screenplay)
  • Starring: Diane Ladd, Raphael Sbarge, Jennifer Runyon, Harrison Page, Ned Bellamy, Clint Howard, Frank Novak, Ed Williams
  • Music: Nigel Holton
  • Cinematography: Keith Holland
  • Editing:
    • Richard Gentner 
    • Lorne Morris
  • Studio: New Horizons Picture
  • Distributed:
    • C/FP Video  
    • Cinépix Film Properties  
    • New Horizons Home Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 21 May 1993
  • Running Time: 83 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Set in the American Southwest, Doc is an alcoholic security watchman protecting digging equipment from environmental activists, though he befriends one of them named Thrush.  Meanwhile, Dr. Jane Tiptree 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.  After narrowly escaping a Tyrannosaurus and the lab, Doc and Thrush battle it with skid-steer loaders near the end of the film (an action that was repeated in the fourth sequel).  The government infiltrates the community in order to "sterilize" the situation by shooting all the civilians, infected or not.  In the end, Thrush dies from the virus, Doc is shot and killed by government soldiers and then their bodies are burned.

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 2 (1995)

  • Genre: Action – Horror – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Louis Morneau
  • Produced: Roger Corman
  • Written: Michael Palmer
  • Starring: John Savage, Cliff De Young, Don Stroud, Rick Dean, Ryan Thomas Johnson, Arabella Holzbog, Miguel A. Núñez Jr., Neith Hunter, Guy Boyd
  • Music: Ed Tomney
  • Cinematography: John B. Aronson
  • Editing:
    • Roderick Davis 
    • Lorne Morris
  • Studio:
    • Concorde-New Horizons 
    • New Horizons Picture
  • Distributed:
    • Concorde-New Horizons  
    • New Horizons Home Video
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 23 February 1995
  • Running Time: 83 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Carnosaur 2 is a 1995 low budget sequel to Carnosaur, and the second of the Carnosaur franchise.  It has a similar plot to Aliens, about a team of scientists who go to a nuclear mining facility to investigate a possible meltdown and instead find a large amount of cloned dinosaurs who have been hidden there after the events of the first film.

The dinosaurs are back, and they're getting hungrier by the minute in this sequel to the terror tale Carnosaur. There's been a call for help from a secret underground military facility deep in the Nevada desert, so a rescue team led by Maj. McQuade and trouble-shooter Reed is sent out to investigate.  When they arrive, the facility's staff are all dead -- the only living person they can find is a lost, disoriented teenager named Jesse who is wandering through the flats.  As they investigate, McQuade and Reed make two terrifying discoveries.  A cache of high-grade plutonium has been stored there, but the containment is faulty, and a cloud of deadly radiation is slowly but surely being released.  To make matters worse, the Army had found a number of dinosaur eggs during a dig and had stashed them at the Nevada facility...and the radiation has caused them to hatch, with a pack of hungry velociraptors patrolling the area as a result.

 

Carnosaur 3: Primal Species (1996)

  • Genre: Action – Horror – Sci-Fi
  • Directed: Jonathan Winfrey
  • Produced:
    • Roger Corman 
    • Marta M. Mobley
  • Written:
    • Rob Kerchner 
    • Constantine Nasr
  • Starring: Scott Valentine, Janet Gunn, Rick Dean, Anthony Peck, Rodger Halston, Terri J. Vaughn, Billy Burnette, Morgan Englund, Stephen Lee, Justina Vail
  • Music: Kevin Kiner
  • Cinematography: Andrea V. Rossotto
  • Editing: Louis F. Cioffi
  • Studio: Concorde-New Horizons
  • Distributed: New Horizons
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 17 January 1997
  • Running Time: 85 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Carnosaur 3: Primal Species is a 1996 direct-to-video action/horror/sci-fi film.  It is the sequel to the 1995 film Carnosaur 2, and the third installation of the Carnosaur series.  It was the first of the series to not get a theatrical release.  The film is the last in the series, but was followed by two unofficial sequel, the first called Raptor in 2001, which included re-used footage from the series; the second was The Eden Formula, a made-for-TV film.

In the opening sequence, an army convoy is attacked by terrorists who soon discover they have stolen a truck of living frozen biological material instead of uranium.  Once at a dockside warehouse, the frozen Velociraptors escape, who kill many of the terrorists before the police arrive, who expect to find drug smugglers.  After finding the sole survivor, the police are killed inside the warehouse by the Velociraptors.  An anti-terrorist special force led by Colonel Rance Higgins is called in by General Mercer where they find pieces of bodies and a refrigeration truck rather than uranium.  They maneuver through warehouse boxes until two get slashed to death.  The survivors learn from Dr. Hodges that these are the last three "carnosaurs" in existence: two male Velociraptors and one female T-Rex left from the genetic reconstructions of the previous Carnosaur installments.  It is made clear that the dinosaurs need to be caught alive, relating to the potential for curing major diseases.  A massive meat shipment resides at the dock, so the three soldiers hunt in that area, meeting up with a unit of Marines who have come as backup.  Soldier Polchek is given drugs to shoot into the carnosaurs as the group set up a lure and net trap with meat.  One of the carnosaurs attacks and almost succeeds in dragging off Polchek, but is shot down.

Hodges soon theorizes that the T-Rex is breeding since Polchek was being dragged off, perhaps to hatchlings.  The next plan is to destroy the ship they're on into the Pacific and freeze the dinosaurs somehow. When time comes to explore the lower decks of the ship, the carnosaurs knock out the lights and kill a couple more soldiers.  The rest get to an elevator, but a dinosaur chews the cable through and they crash on the bottom level, discovering the nest of eggs which they begin to shoot, causing the T-Rex to become mad, ripping off Polchek's arm.  Rance and Proudfoot rejoin Dr. Hodges and Marine Rossi, split up again and rig dynamite.  Rossi is eaten by the Rex; Proudfoot's head is ripped off; and the remaining two shoot two of the dinosaurs.  Hodges senses the T-Rex is close.  She and Rance hide behind lockers which the T-Rex head-butts.  Rance throws an explosive in the mouth of the dinosaur, killing it.  The two race against time to jump in the ocean before the ship explodes.  As a cliffhanger, back in the police car at the port, the sole surviving terrorist is still gagged in the back seat where a dinosaur soon appears.

 

Raptor (2001)

  • Genre: Horror – Sci-Fi – Action
  • Directed: Jim Wynorski
  • Produced:
    • Roger Corman 
    • Timothy J. Warenz
  • Written:
    • Frances Doel 
    • Michael B. Druxman 
    • Jim Wynorski
  • Starring: Eric Roberts, Corbin Bernsen, Melissa Brasselle, Tim Abell, William Monroe, Harrison Page, Lorissa McComas, Frank Novak, Grant Cramer, Teresa DePriest
  • Music: Unknown
  • Cinematography: Andrea V. Rossotto
  • Editing: Max K. Atkins
  • Studio: New Concorde
  • Distributed: New Concorde Home Entertainment
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 6 November 2001
  • Running Time: 81 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Raptor is a 2001 direct-to-video horror film directed by Jim Wynorski.  It often reuses stock footage from the three Carnosaur films and follows the same basic premise of cloned dinosaurs running amok.  It is the unofficial sequel to Carnosaur 3: Primal Species.

When a series of unexplained vicious animal attacks strikes his community, Sheriff Jim Tanner and his assistant Barbara trace them back to a Dr. Hyde, a former military researcher whose government funding for a dinosaur cloning project was cut.  When the Pentagon discovers Hyde obtained foreign backing to continue his experiments, they send in a strike team to save Tanner and Barbara and stop Hyde.

 

The Eden Formula (2006)

  • Original Title: Tyrannosaurus Wrecks
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Directed: John Carl Buechler
  • Produced:
    • Debbie Chen 
    • Peter Davy 
    • Bob Myers 
    • Rick Nicolet 
    • Erica Spano
  • Written: John Carl Buechler
  • Starring: Jeff Fahey, Dee Wallace, Tony Todd, Alexandra Ford, Stephen Wastell, Don Luce, Paula Ficara, Angie Lieuw, Gregory Gast
  • Music: Andy Garfield
  • Cinematography: James M. LeGoy
  • Editing: Paul Norman
  • Studio:
    • Motion Picture Corporation  
    • Fantastical Cinema LLC  
    • Imageries Entertainment
  • Distributed:
    • Westlake Entertainment Group  
    • The Sci-Fi Channel  
    • World Film Magic Distribution
  • Rated: NR
  • Release Date: 1 September 2006
  • Running Time: 92 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

The Eden Formula, also known as Tyrannosaurus Wrecks or unofficially as Carnosaur 5, is a 2006 low budget made-for-TV film written and directed by John Carl Buechler for Syfy.  The film uses recycled footage from Carnosaur.

Dr. Harrison Parker is a scientist working at Calgorin Industries who developed the Eden Formula, a chemical which can reproduce organisms and cure various diseases.  However, unknown to Parker, deep underground the general area of his industrial district, other Calgorin Industries scientists have created a Tyrannosaurus Rex from Parker's formula, and keep it locked away in a subterranean location in order to impress stockholders.  Soon enough, industry spies enter a laboratory at Calgorin Industries so they can steal the formula and pass it off as their own, making millions of dollars.

Nevertheless, the spies accidentally set loose the bloodthirsty Tyrannosaur, which obliterates all objects and beings in the lab and rampages into the streets of Los Angeles.  Parker and his friend Rhonda Shapton now have to team up with a police officer so that they can stop both the determined rival company of Calgorin Industries and the Tyrannosaurus Rex that continuously adds to its body count.

 

Notes:

1.  A mockbuster (sometimes also called a knockbuster or a drafting opportunity) is a film created with the apparent intention of piggy-backing on the publicity of a major film with a similar title or theme and is often made with a low budget.  Most of the time these films are created to be released direct-to-video at the same time as the mainstream film reaches theaters or video outlets.  Though it is possible to use properties of this sort to intentionally deceive consumers into mistakenly purchasing the derivative title (e.g., someone thinks they are buying a copy of Transformers, but they are actually getting Transmorphers), another possible intention is to provide legitimate add-on buying opportunity in the marketplace (e.g., customer enjoyed Will Ferrell's Land of the Lost and wants more in the same sub-genre, and buys/rents C. Thomas Howell's The Land That Time Forgot).

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