Raptor (2001)

Of all the ways to die, death by a miniature dinsoaur puppet has got to be one of the worst.

Hot on the heels of 1993’s Jurassic Park came the Carnosaur trilogy, three movies that have gained somewhat of a cult status due to their cheezy plots and notoriously goofy special effects. The trilogy was churned out by the infamous producer Roger Corman (everything from Attack of the Crab Monsters and X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes to Dementia 13 and Death Race 2000) and director Jim Wynorski (Cheerleader Massacre, The Bare Wench Project series, and one of my favorite cheezy movies from the 80’s, Chopping Mall) in record time. In fact, Carnosaur 1 came out after the original Jurassic Park, and yet Carnosaur II and Carnosaur III were released before Jurassic Park II was! So what do these Carnosaur movies have to do with Raptor? A lot, it turns out.

In Raptor, a jeep full of joyriding kids is slaughtered out in the open desert. A search of the crime scene turns up not only slash marks but strange footprints in the sand. An investigation led by local sherrif Jim Tanner reveals some sinister doings in town — namely, a secret lab where Dr. Hyde and his staff are secretly cloning and raising dinosaurs. Unfortunately, one of them seems to have escaped …

As mentioned, the film begins with a scene in which several kids are attacked by a dinosaur. What I didn’t mention was, this footage was taken directly from the first Carnosaur movie. In fact, while watching this film I couldn’t help but notice that every single time a dinosaur appeared on screen, it was a scene from the Carnosaur trilogy — also produced by Roger Corman and directed by Jim Wynorski. Apparently the two of them simply selected their favorite scenes from the previous trilogy, mixed them around, and filmed new footage to try and link the clips together in some sort of logical sense.

That explains why the chicken truck is parked next to a rock, yet when the Sheriff happens upon the vehicle it has magically migrated to a forest. And how a bulldozer keeps changing into a Bobcat between shots. And how the Jeep, which was originally next to a cliff, is later found on the side of the road. Maybe the raptor drove it there. Of course, I’m not even sure there was a raptor — the dinosaur is constantly being referred to as a “baby T-Rex” by Dr. Hyde (and the guy who cloned them should know), and the dinosaurs don’t look anything like the raptors we’re familiar with from the Jurassic Park series. And, when we saw this same footage in Carnosaur, they weren’t raptors then, either. So really the only place the word “Raptor” ever appears in the film is during the opening title.

Acting is what you would expect from a bunch of people hired to act in a film filled with stock footage of rubber dinosaurs. Eric Roberts as Sheriff Jim Tanner walks around in a deadpan daze while being kidnapped by evil Doctors and after seeing his daughter who’s been “shocked into a coma” after seeing a “giant lizard”. Melissa Brasselle and Lorissa McComas are both gorgeous to look at and one can only assume the 81 minute running time of this film is the longest they’ve (mostly) kept their clothes on in a film.

To those who have seen the original series, Raptor comes off as a cheap “best of” (figuratively speaking) version of the Carnosaur trilogy. Those who haven’t may enjoy the new storyline, but may find the weird jumps in logic and clips hard to follow. If you’re looking for a silly little dinosaur flick and enjoy suffering through cheap (un)special effects, wooden acting and plot holes a brontosaurus could walk through, then Raptor is for you. I paid $2 for this on DVD and definitely got two bucks worth of laughter out of it.

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