4 Ferocious Creature Features to Pair with ‘Carnosaur’ [Double That Feature]

carnosaur

At long last, here it is. I’ve hinted towards this moment with the subtlety of a stomping, roaring, scientifically-inaccurate T-Rex. Well, let’s get to it.

Dinosaurs! I love them! They’re fucking rad! I mean, who doesn’t like dinosaurs? What’s your favorite dinosaur? Mine for the longest time was the Tyrannosaurus Rex, but as I continue to mature (slowly and minimally), I think I’m becoming more of an Allosaurus fan. Something a bit more ferocious, you know?

My fondness for these terrible lizards was instilled into me at a very early age, when I was a toddler at most. Yeah, I’ve been watching movies for a while. Good movies? Well, that’s a question for you to answer and me to avoid.

Anyway, it all started with Godzilla: King of the Monsters (the first movie I ever watched, so I’m told), but my interest was solidified with a dino feature that hit theaters in 1993 and became a box office success… Jurassic Park.

Ha! You thought I was going to do the old “bait-and-switch” with Carnosaur there, didn’t you? I thought about it, but I gotta keep you on your toes.

That being said, both Carnosaur and Jurassic Park are childhood favorites of mine, though you might be surprised to find out (read: not surprised at all) that I watched the former way more than the latter. I can say with absolute certainty that Carnosaur molded my taste in cinema and was the catalyst for my B-movie obsession.

All thanks to Roger Corman! Have we hit a hundred Corman mentions yet? It’s got to have been at least fifty. I’m hoping if I hit a thousand, Corman himself will help me write an article, so let’s keep ‘em coming.

So here I’ve been, rambling on about this flick, and it’s just dawned on me that you might not know anything about it. I’m a terrible host, I should have realized sooner. Allow me to fix that!

Imagine, if you will, a small town. A small town in a desert. We’ll say Nevada, probably not too far from Perfection. It’s quiet, nothing much going on, the usual routine you’d expect from a place like this. Then, overnight, hell breaks loose with a rash of brutal maulings, supposedly by some wild animal. A bobcat? “I haven’t seen one of those around here since I was a kid,” a local says. A bear? There’s no bears in the desert… are there? On top of that, people are getting really sick all of a sudden. Like, a LOT of people. It must be really contagious. And… and… did that woman just give birth… to an egg? Wait… is… is that a… DINOSAUR EGG?!

Congrats! You just imagined the plot to Carnosaur, Roger Corman’s mockbuster Jurassic Park cash-in!

Carnosaur (Directed by Adam Simon; Starring Diane Ladd, Raphael Sbarge, Jennifer Runyon; 1993)

You’re going to have to get creative to find this flick anywhere digitally or physically. It goes for close to $50 on Ebay now. Maybe if we all yell loud enough, Shout Factory will hear us and do everything in their power to make a steelbook Blu Ray of this. C’mon, Shout Factory! Please!

Fun Fact: Carnosaur is based on the Harry Adam Knight (John Brosnan) book of the same name, which came out YEARS before Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park. They both explored the ramifications of genetic cloning, the only difference being that Crichton treated the material with a huge amount of scientific/philosophical seriousness. Knight just wrote a gory, pulp-style B-Movie story.

Both have a place in my heart!

Now to the blood-drenched viscera of this article: what other flicks would I pair with this campy dinosaur romp?

The obvious answer would be Carnosaur 2, but I’ve already talked about that one and I don’t want to repeat myself for once. The second obvious answer would be other Roger Corman flicks, but I talk about him enough as is, so I’m going to limit myself to just one.

What does that leave us with? Let’s sink our teeth into it, shall we?

1. Proteus (Directed by Bob Keen; Starring Craig Fairbrass, Toni Barry, William Marsh; 1995)

“A group of heroin smugglers find shelter on an abandoned oil rig after their ship had exploded. Soon they find that the oil rig was just cover for biological experiment. One of the results is Charlie – shape-shifting monster with ability to absorb the memory of its victims. However, even such creatures have their own bad habits.” – via IMDB.

Those of you that have seen this one might be surprised that it’s based on a book. Further still, a book by Harry Adam Knight (John Bronson AND Leroy Kettle this time), the very same author of Carnosaur. Further still, Knight also wrote this adaption’s screenplay. That’s particularly surprising given that, despite sticking pretty close to the source material, for the most part, the film also strays in some major ways.

It essentially follows the same plot: a bunch of drug-mule yuppies get lost at sea and find themselves stranded on an abandoned oil rig (actually a disguised bio-lab) housing an escaped monster with mondo munchies for human flesh. Work vacations, amirite?

All that’s pretty much covered in both mediums. It’s the smaller details where things are different.

Mainly in the character interpretations, having switched names and roles a bit. It’s a lot to get into, so I’ll keep it brief (as I can). The Alex character is nowhere near as heroically “badass” in the book as he is in the movie. If anything, he’s a bigger antagonist than the monster for a good chunk of it. If you want a clearer picture of what I mean, think of any Roger Corman creature feature involving women. Not for everybody.

Other changed details include motivations and story beats (the ending is completely different), but I don’t think that detracts from the movie at all. The novel’s a trashy B-Book, and this is a trashy B-Movie. Sound enough in spirit and tone!

The monster, Charlie… yes, “Charlie”… is done completely practical, looking pretty gnarly, might I say. Come to think of it, most of the FXs look good in this. From seaweed-like tendrils leaking out of mouths, globs of sentient slime, to cyst-like eggs dropping into people’s mouths (yum), there’s plenty of weird gross stuff for you yuck-lovers out there.

Overall, a fun flick that’s exactly what you’d expect it to be, and a perfect partner piece for Carnosaur given their shared lineage.

Also, yes, I know it’s very similar to John Carpenter’s The Thing, and yes, that might make me biased towards it.

Watch it digitally here or buy it physically here.

2. Komodo (Directed by Michael Lantieri; Jill Hennessy, Billy Burke, Kevin Zegers; 1999)

“After witnessing his parents being killed by creatures on an island as a child, a young man is brought back to the island a few years later by his psychiatrist, only to be terrorized by the same creatures.” – via IMDB.

https://youtu.be/_nOG4DSKZ5w

Am I the only one who remembers this flick? I can’t be, right? Yet, I never hear anyone talk about it. Which is weird, because this isn’t only a fun creature feature, but a competent one. By that, I mean there’s a good amount of effort behind it.

The story is nothing new, but still a good time nonetheless. A group of people is stuck on an island full of starving, crazed Komodo Dragons. They’re not even “mutated” or “genetically engineered” or anything, just regular starving Komodos that are particularly ravenous for some man-meat. As I said, nothing too special, but I do love a good island-monster adventure.

The film’s main takeaway are the titular Komodos themselves. Brought to life using a combination of CGI and practical effects (aka the Jurassic Park approach), they look way better than one would expect them to. Seriously, the animatronics look just like actual lizards, it’s crazy. The CGI also doesn’t look too shabby. I mean, it’s still early 00s CGI, but it’s “high-end” early 00s CGI. It helps that they physically moved things on the set, so when they put the CGI lizards in, they look like they’re actually bumping into stuff. Color me impressed! However, I don’t think Komodo Dragons sound like Velociraptors. Just a hunch.

The characters are solid as well, save for the kid. We have a pair of Komodo-hunters, a do-gooder psychiatrist, a comically evil corporate guy… and the kid. He’s really off-putting, making my eyes roll every time he showed up on screen. The kid is trying to be edgy, but his edge is less sharp than a butter knife. I get it, his family (and dog) were horribly mutilated by Komodos, so he’s probably not the happiest camper. But the actor doesn’t really pull it off. This only pertains to the first third of the movie, though. He’s MIA for the second act, and is a lot more tolerable in the last bit. There’s even a rad scene where he kills a Komodo, though I’m not sure where he got all that booby-trap knowledge from. Home Alone must have been his favorite movie or something, I don’t know.

This is a perfect match for Carnosaur due to the “people being hunted by reptiles” premise alone. Yes, I know the therapod dinosaur is more biologically related to birds, but that beast in Carnosaur is definitely a lizard… even though it came from chicken DNA. I think my argument is falling apart here. Anyway, “reptile-like” monsters eat people! There you go!

I have no idea where you can watch it digitally, but you can buy it physically here.

3. Watchers II (Directed by Thierry Notz; Starring Marc Singer, Tracy Scoggins, Jonathan Farwell; 1990)

“A genetically re-engineered dog develops a psychic link with a monster created in a lab experiment which goes awry.” – via IMDB.

https://youtu.be/qguNZrGFUrc

My one Roger Corman film on this list. I better savor it. Anyway, I can hear what some of you are wondering:

Watchers II? Why not Watchers III? Or the first Watchers for that matter?”

Well, you see, I just like Watchers II more. It’s better paced, has better action, Tracy Scoggins from Demonic Toys is there, and (honestly) I think it has a little more heart to it. That’s weird to say, because Corman sequels consistently have a steady decline in quality, but this one manages to transcend the original, at least by a bit.

It probably has something to do with being closer to the book. Now, “closer” does not mean “faithful”, being far from that in so many ways. However, the tone is similar enough, which I think is what most of the film’s critics meant.

For those of you not familiar with the Watchers “lore” (which includes everybody except Corman viewers and Dean Koontz readers), the plot is basically the same in each entry.

There’s a super-smart dog (named Einstein) that’s created for a secret military project to give the good ole’ U.S.A. an edge on the battlefield. Don’t get too excited about the idea of “Dog Rambo”, because that’s not the case, despite being an amazing idea. No no, Einstein is just the infiltrator, a spy if you will, more like “Dog James Bond”. It’s the “Outsider” who does the damage: a genetically-engineered monster that hates Einstein and anyone who was ever around him. Basically an extreme form of jealousy stemming from how everyone gave Einstein belly rubs while the Outsider got cattle prods.

In each of these films, something happens and Einstein escapes confinement, closely followed by the Outsider. Einstein finds a group of people, and they work together to end the Outsider’s murder spree. That’s all the movies. Watchers II just does it best.

How does it do it best, though? Well, for one thing, the characters are way more engaging. Sure, you have Corey Haim/Michael Ironside in the first one, Wings Hauser in Watchers III, and Mark Hamill in Watchers: Reborn (I know, right?), but despite all that, I feel this one still has the best performances. Marc Singer does his best to take the material as seriously as it needs to be while still keeping it tongue-in-cheek, and it works. Tracy Scoggins also does well in her role, being completely believable as a dog-loving scientist that inadvertently participated in a twisted experiment of hide-and-seek. Then, of course, we have Dakai playing Einstein… who’s just a good boy! Yes he is, he’s a really good boy! Or good girl! I’m not sure which, but they’re good nonetheless! Yes, they are!

I’m 99% sure the costume used for the Outsider is just a repurposed “Gargoyle” suit from The Terror Within. They look way too similar to me, though there are a few differences. For example, the (somewhat) terrifyingly rad face of the Gargoyle has been replaced by the head of an anteater suffering from third-degree burns. It’s incredibly silly-looking, and probably the biggest detriment to this flick. The filmmakers realized this as well (luckily), and kept the beast to the shadows as much as possible. Still, it’s an effective enough monster and manages to be a little sympathetic at some points. It’s light years better than the one from Watchers III, so it has that going for it.

Obviously, the main reason I’m suggesting this double-feature pairing is because of the Corman connection. But why Watchers II and not one of the zillion other Corman flicks out there? Well, honestly, it’s hard for me to say. Maybe it’s because I feel the two series share a kinship, both being based on monster novels by established writers at the time, drifting so far from the source material that they’re entirely their own entity by the end… or maybe it’s because Watchers III used Carnosaur stock footage in its exposition scene. In either case, Watchers II is the better movie.

You’re going to have to get creative to find this one because I can’t find it on any streaming site, and the DVDs are apparently going for $150. So… good luck!

4. Jurassic Park (Directed by Stephen Spielberg; Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, 1993)

“A pragmatic paleontologist touring an almost complete theme park on an island in Central America is tasked with protecting a couple of kids after a power failure causes the park’s cloned dinosaurs to run loose.” – via IMDB.

I know, I’m weirded out by a “good” movie being on this list, too. How could it not be, though? It’s the flick Carnosaur was cashing in on, it’s only fair I give it a place on here. Besides, I love Jurassic Park, it’s great. The sequels… not so much.

So, this is the part where I could regurgitate how everyone feels about this flick. How it’s a “landmark film” and “revolutionized special effects”. One of “Spielberg’s best” and “all that jazz”… which is all true, of course. I’m not cynical/pretentious/crazy enough to dispute any of that. Still, I don’t want to tell you stuff you already know. But what do I talk about then? The book?… well, I could.

The novel has completely different vibes to its film counterpart. If anything, I’d say it has a more similar tone to Carnosaur… something you want to tell us, Mr. Crichton? Anyway, the horror and brutality of the novel didn’t find its way to the movie adaption. Probably because they didn’t gel with the whole “family-friendly” idea Spielberg was going for. Go figure.

The book’s more of a horror tale than anything else, complete with blood-thirsty creatures and gruesomely graphic deaths. Seriously, the raptors gut and eat so many people in gory detail, and that’s not counting all the other dino-deaths that happen. Good bedtime story for the kids!

The film is great for different reasons, having a well-done story in its own right, great performances, fantastic effects, and all those other things people say about it. It’s just a good flick… what more is there?

Why watch this with Carnosaur? To humor me… but also it’s just interesting to see two variations of the same premise from the same year. One is an awe-inspiring story detailing the dangers of taking science too far and the consequences of hubris, and the other is just dinosaurs tearing the guts out of people. Two sides, same coin.

Check it out digitally here or buy it physically here.

We made it! And with only a few chunks missing. At least we’re not in some prehistoric carnivore’s belly, so you know, the little things in life. Writing this article was a bit special to me, given my love for the Carnosaur franchise, and how it shaped me up as a filmgoer, for better or worse. Hopefully, a few of you will join me in watching dinosaurs tear limbs off and fight bulldozers in climatic battles… oh! Dinosaurus! That’s another good one to put on here!

Until next time…

Ciao, friends!

Giallo Julian’s TwitterFacebook

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