I read this book. It’s about this crazy rich British dude who uses sophisticated techniques to extract preserved biomatter from fossils and bingo! Dino DNA! His scientists manage to clone dinosaurs that he puts in a private zoo, but the bird-like carnivores manage to escape and run havoc. Speaking of birds, the book stresses the fact that dinosaurs didn’t go extinct since birds are dinosaurs. The book is called Billy and the Cloneasaurus. No, it’s called Carnosaur and was written by John Brosnan… five years before Michael Crichton released Jurassic Park.
Without going into a book review, I can state that, obviously, Jurassic Park is a much better novel and a better story. Carnosaur is pulp fiction—easily digestible and engaging, but it doesn’t fill you with the wonder the Jurassic Park novel did. Credit where credit’s due, though, it did the story first. The film adaptations both came out the same year, 1993. I still remember sitting in the movie theatre when the T-Rex escaped in Jurassic Park. I had never seen anything like it. Nobody had seen anything like it. I doubt many remember distinctively when they saw Carnosaur for the first time. To be fair, Jurassic Park was directed by Steven Spielberg. Carnosaur was produced by Roger Corman.
In Carnosaur (the film), a scientist is working on mutating Chicken DNA so they become reptilian dinosaurs again. The scientist is portrayed by Diane Ladd, who many remember being Clark’s mom in Christmas Vacation. She is also the mother of actress Laura Dern… Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park. Now, the chickens literally lay big carnivore eggs, which makes the chicken explode. One of those eggs hatches and out comes a deinonychus. Interesting fact, in the novel the rampaging dino is also a deinonychus AND the velociraptors in Jurassic Park (book and film) were actually based on deinonychus rather than velociraptors.
The film often superimposed information that states: “Infected cells per 1 million:” followed by a percentage like 10%. This is before we know what infection they are talking about, but it also raises the question, what is the infection rate per 2 million cells? What 1 million cells are we talking about? Why is this in a percentage? Those questions quickly go away as we get the first look at the rampaging dino.
It’s a hand puppet. No, like, literally. It attacks people like you would attack a small child you were trying to entertain with a hand puppet. And it is literally a hand puppet. The effects do become better when the dinosaur becomes bigger. Then they are mechanical rubber puppets. To be fair, if these dinos would have been in a movie made in the 1940s, they would have been awesome, in the 1990s, not so much.
Throughout the film, along with those superimposed statistics, people seem to be getting sick. Sneezing and what not. Finally, it seems that a whole lot of townspeople are getting very ill. We are finally made privy to the plan. The evil scientist didn’t just mutate chickens into a T-Rex (yes, they have a T-Rex), she also engineered a retrovirus. A retro virus is an RNA virus that infects a cell and makes the cell produce DNA, which then becomes part of the host genome. HIV is a retrovirus which is why it’s (almost) impossible to get rid of when infected.
What does the Carnosaur retrovirus do? Well, its reservoir is chicken eggs and once cracked, it gets airborne and infects human females. In the body, it… attacks the eggs, makes it create dino DNA, which fertilizes the egg and the women birth dinosaurs like in V (1983). Birthing kills the woman. Why? Without women, humanity is doomed. The scientist wants to kill off humanity and give dinosaurs the earth back.
To expand the film into a feature length (it barely reaches the 80-minute mark), the main story is interrupted regularly with some kind of governmental organization led by that crazy war vet that Elaine hired in Seinfeld. They come up with a plan to create artificial wombs.
It’s all insanely stupid. Like, this might be the stupidest plot any film has ever had. Like, the book, it’s pulp fiction—easily digestible and engaging without being anything more than that. It is enjoyable simply because it is so incredibly schlocky while still having good actors being all serious in the inanity.
And that final shot. Gold.