Halloween White Elephant: Carnosaur 3: Primal Species (1996)

Posted by Damon Swindall - October 3rd 2011 @ 10:00 am

Carnosaur 3 Cover Art

From Brian Kelley–“I have been running a horror movie night for almost 10 years now. Back in the mid-2000s I would review each film the day after Horror Movie Night on my MySpace blog. Recently, while going through this blog, I came across a rave review of the b-movie mess CARNOSAUR 3. As such, I thought it would be perfect to get another human being’s perspective after all these years. According to my notes, we watched this at HMN before watching the first two in the series so even if Damon has not seen them it shouldn’t make a lick of difference.

For my first film of the Horror’s Not Dead Halloween White Elephant I decided to go in alphabetical order. I know very little about any of the four films I have been given  to watch by Brian Kelley, but this is one that I saw at the video store many times. I asked Brian if it was going to matter that I hadn’t seen the previous films in the series. He assured me it wouldn’t and after watching Carnosaur 3: Primal Species (1996), I can clearly see that he was right. As long as you can just accept that there are man-grown dinos existing in the world. The bad times start when a group of international terrorists hijack a big rig truck hoping for a big score of uranium but instead are greeted by a trailer containing a few military recreated dinosaurs. Of course it’s not long before they escape and begin killing. All are contained in a warehouse and the government calls in two elite soldier groups – one from the army and the other from the marines – to help the scientist types capture the subjects. They hope for a live capture, but things get more and more deadly as time passes.

You know you’re in for a treat when soon after the lovely “Roger Corman presents” title card you are treated with the image of a soldier pissing from a moving jeep because they don’t want to stop for him to relieve himself. From this point on you are in for something truly special; the kind of film where a group of terrorists are not fazed by the fact that there are freaking dinosaurs in the back of this truck! Sure, they are a little peeved because it’s not what they wanted, but I sure as hell would be freaking out a little if I were face-to-face with a dino. You would think, in a movie about these ancient predators, that most of the plot would concern the titular subjects. But for a large portion of the second act of the film, it steps away from that – so much so that you almost forget they are there. It seems the filmmakers were more concerned with the two military groups’ struggles to work together on this mission and for a few of the men to work alongside a woman. Just when you think they are getting something accomplished one of the guys flips out because there’s a woman on the other team or because they are the superior group of soldiers. Nothing like a film with a message. I’m glad this film helped me realize that we can work together and achieve anything… except for capturing dinosaurs in a warehouse because that outcome is not pretty.

The main draw to this film is Scott (Family Ties, My Demon Lover) Valentine who plays the commanding officer Col. Rance Higgins. I kid, but he is pretty much the biggest name in the cast, alongside former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Janet Gunn, with the notable exception of one of the smaller roles. Playing a cop is none other than future MADtv star Michael McDonald. Evidently he worked for Corman’s Concorde Pictures for a few years in the 90s writing and acting before landing a role on the sketch comedy show. Who knew? But who really cares about the humans anyway? The real stars are the dinosaurs themselves. From the look of them on the VHS/poster art you can tell they seem to be pretty well-designed, especially for a low-budget Corman flick. You’ll be happy to know that the box art doesn’t lie and this is how the creatures really look. Unfortunately they don’t move a whole lot making them much more suited for still photography rather than filming. The lack of articulation leaves you with some very chuckle-heavy scenes that should be more tense or frightening. You never really see the dinos walking as they are shot from the “waist” up as they move around which, at times, looks like they’re on wheels. This gives me a great idea for a Saturday morning cartoon spin-off – Dino Skaters, a hilarious look into the world of prehistoric extreme sports.

There’s not a lot of gore, even though the body count is pretty high, and the story leaves quite a bit to be desired. You can still have some fun with a few of the characters and the rubber reptiles are pretty cool and humorous to look at, even if they are about as realistic as Barney. This is the last in the series, but I still must go back and watch the first two parts. Then again, I’m a glutton for punishment.

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  1. October 3rd, 2011 | 6:55 pm | #1

    When I worked for Movie Gallery, someone wrote “WORST MOVIE I EVER SEEN” in ball-point pen on the tape label for CARNOSAUR 3.

  2. October 4th, 2011 | 4:41 am | #2

    the dinosaurs movie are enjoyable only when the dinosaurs in the movies look closer to reality. Other wise such movies are unable to create charm among audience.

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