Carnosaur (3/30/12)

CarnosaurMovie Sixty Eight

The second film in my Roger Corman double-feature, Carnosaur is a bit harder to like. Roger Corman’s answer to Jurassic Park has not aged very well.

As a kid, I still remember being whipped into a frenzy by Jurassic Park. I have had a lifelong love for all things dinosaur and it sounded like an amazing movie. I also remember leafing through an issue of Fangoria and reading about a movie called Carnosaur, a violent counterpart to Jurassic Park. My pre-teen mind raced at the awesomeness of what I was reading. It would be years before I would finally see Carnosaur, but comparing it to Jurassic Park is apt but a bit unfair.

Carnosaur is, on many levels, similar to Jurassic Park in that it deals with genetic experiments and dinosaurs. Carnosaur uses the genetic part for more devious purposes instead of the dream of a man. The dinosaur models are pretty bad, but considering the budget of the film (about a million dollars) they are acceptable. If I had to explain Carnosaur to someone in one sentence I would say “it’s like if Jurassic Park and Tremors had a low budget spin-off”.

If it seems unfair to compare Carnosaur to Jurassic Park, I would agree except for one glaring reason; Roger Corman made this movie simply because of Jurassic Park. It’s not a cash-in exactly, but it does blatantly ride the coattails of awesome dinosaur movies. After watching a Corman film with talent from the 60s and watching this from the 90s, my clear favorite is The Terror. Carnosaur is only 83 minutes long but it is a long 83 minutes. The shoestring budget in the 60s clearly went further than it did here.

Carnosaur is not a terrible movie, but it’s close. It has some likeable elements but the end result is barely worth watching. Even if you know you are in store for a bad movie, it is almost bad to the point of being good. Roger Corman’s mark on cinema history is evident. The man has produced over 400 (!) films (he didn’t actually direct Carnosaur) over the course of 60 years. His films are not great, but many of them are fun.

I give it 2 hand puppet dinosaurs out of 5.

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The Terror (3/30/12)

The TerrorMovie Sixty Seven

The Terror was the first movie I watched in my Roger Corman double-feature. If I called it an obvious Roger Corman flick, would everyone know what to expect?

The Terror is an obvious Roger Corman movie if you’re familiar with his work. Made on a shoestring budget, shot incredibly quickly, improvised scenes, and violence. What sets this film apart from the other billion movies Corman produced is actually more interesting than the film itself.

I won’t even bother trying to dissect the plot of The Terror. A very young Jack Nicholson is a nineteenth century soldier that gets separated from his regiment and stumbles upon a beautiful woman by the sea. Then a lot of crazy stuff happens and he meets Boris Karloff in a castle later. That’s about all I can really say with any certainty. It’s not totally nonsensical, but it’s close. But there’s a reason for that…

The Terror was almost entirely improvised, and not just the dialogue. Corman let that camera run for various takes without cuts with the intention to use that footage later. Apparently all he needed was the basic plot outline. Some of the sets were reused from another Corman picture and a Vincent Price film. The Terror was also shot by at least six different directors: Corman himself, Francis Ford Coppola (yes, really), Dennis Jakob, Monte Hellman, Jack Hill, and Jack Nicholson.

Aside from the interesting background of the film, there is not much to recommend of the actual film itself. The acting is actually quite good even if the dialog is kind of weird. The plot is disjointed and confusing but it kept me interested in watching, which is something worth noting. I would definitely recommend The Terror for fans of Corman’s work and horror films.

I give it 3 young Nicholsons out of 5.

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