By now, longtime HOTDOG readers are well acquainted with my dedication to write about the year 1995 specifically. I make no apologies for this fact, because none are required. We don’t ask the spider why she weaves, or the dog why he eats turds from the litter box. You don’t question the sky or its winds, because they’re going to keep blowing. Just as my mind will remain encased in the amber tomb of the year you could buy Batman glasses at McDonald’s.
1995’s Carnosaur 2 is the sequel to 1993’s Carnosaur, an $850,000 movie shotgunned into existence to capitalize on confused audiences trying to buy a ticket to see Jurassic Park. Carnosaur 2 ups the ante by being as close to a scene-to-scene remake of Aliens as you can get without being sued by James Cameron. Incidentally, the Carnosaur franchise was produced by B-movie icon Roger Corman, whom Cameron used to work for as a special effects artist. I have no idea what that means. Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.
Carnosaur 2 is a fascinating exercise in blunt force storytelling. It’s like a term paper written by a college freshman who missed most of the semester fighting a public intoxication conviction in Hilton Head, South Carolina. The creative powers behind Carnosaur 2 knew they wanted a sequel to Carnosaur, but they had so little inspiration that the film has nothing to do with the original, and is in fact a remake of a sequel to a different movie.
The film is set in the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository, which is a real place, sort of. It is a proposed underground storage facility for radioactive material, but it hasn’t actually been built yet. Allegedly. But Carnosaur 2 presupposes that it has. Not only that, but in the process of drilling tunnels deep beneath the earth, the government uncovered dormant dinosaur eggs. Uh, I think. They might have found the eggs in some other project dig site and transported them to Yucca Mountain. I can’t be sure, because I’ve already seen this movie twice, one of those viewings was in the seventh grade, and I’m not watching it a third time.
Anyway, the details don’t really matter, because the point is the dinosaurs have broken loose in Yucca Mountain and eaten absolutely everyone inside. They’ve also completely trashed the place, like the time I tried to install a wall mount for my television.
A badass team of mercenary nuclear technicians arrives, because that is a combination of words Carnosaur 2 boldly wants me to accept.
But they quickly realize this is no mere equipment malfunction when they encounter evidence of a massacre, the lone survivor of which is a catatonic teen.
Incidentally, this teen is dressed like a process server trying to sneak up on Eddie Vedder, because it is the year nineteen hundred and ninety five.
But then the team’s badass leader is killed in a sudden dinosaur attack.
When they attempt to evacuate, their helicopter pilot is ambushed by a velociraptor hand puppet.
The helicopter crashes and the team is stranded.
Their boss, a swirling dickweed working for the government, attempts to betray them in order to keep the dinosaurs a secret from the rest of the world.
But the team has to put aside their differences and escape the facility before radioactive material leaking from all the dinosaur violence causes the mountain to explode.
But before they’re able to execute their escape plan, angry raptor puppets breach the control room. One badass technician gets snatched through a grate.
The prickish company man and the perpetually angry badass blow themselves up to avoid being eaten.
The only survivors are Scummy Teen and Fake Plissken, who is haunted by the loss of his Dead Family. Fake Plissken is played by John Savage, who was in The Deer Hunter, so his hauntedness is authentic, because he has seen what a good movie looks like.
Fake Plissken is captured by the dinosaurs, so Scummy Teen leaves the rescue chopper and goes back down into the facility to save him, only to come face to face with a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The Tyrannosaurus is brought to life by the stunning special effects wizardry of a Robot Wars team that got cut out of their episode because their robot caught fire in the green room.
Scummy Teen carries Fake Plissken to safety, then fights the T-Rex with a power loader.
Scummy Teen opens a 200-foot mine shaft using a button on the loader and forces the dinosaur into the pit, where it falls to its death.
“Falls to its death” is a phrase here meaning “it bounces off the ground like a rubber toy, because that’s what it is.”
Scummy Teen and Fake Plissken escape in the helicopter just as the facility explodes, dooming the American southwest for centuries to come.
Does that sound familiar? Specifically, in an “exactly like James Cameron’s Aliens” sort of way? If not, please return to the beginning of the article.
Now, just because it’s a baffling remake of Aliens doesn’t mean Carnosaur 2 is totally without merit. After all, I watched this film, and then decided to watch it again three decades later. I didn’t have to do that. I could have lived the rest of my life instead.
No, something drew me back to this barely-remembered gem of a compromise Blockbuster rental from years past, and I’m glad I chose to revisit it, because it is one of the most earnestly shitty movies I have ever seen. It’s like a piñata full of beetles, or a Sega powered by fear. It has the desire to be fun, but not the ability.
The first character we see is a man in a cowboy hat. He is listening to country western music, because he is wearing a cowboy hat.
He spies a dinosaur and makes a face that can only be described as “Will Ferrell cumming at an improv class.”
Scummy Teen and his friend break into the Yucca Mountain facility using Terminator 2 hacking technology to steal dynamite from a storage room. Just dynamite in old timey crates. Like they’re trying to build a railroad in 1864.
And I really need to take a moment to introduce you to the team of badass repair technicians.
Everyone got a perm the night before. Except for their bald leader, who also has an eyepatch. He must have lost his eye during a particularly deadly repair mission. They look like an arena football team. Each one of them is dressed like a different kind of school shooter. Also, they’re all wearing a lightning bolt patch that looks like the SS insignia. Like, a lot.
John Savage shows up drunk, cooling his forehead with an empty beer can. He wistfully touches a photograph of his family in his locker, so we know that they are Dead.
The team plays an indecipherable rock-paper-scissors game in the helicopter, which is meant to convey how nonchalantly badass they are.
Their headsets are incredible. They look like they’re wearing old office conference phones on their heads. A Magnavox executive has spilled cocaine into one of those.
The control room at the facility looks like the bridge set from a Star Trek CD-ROM game. Jonathan Frakes has given players a side mission from this chair.
The filmmakers realized that having a character chew gum and/or eat candy is a good way to convey that they’re cool and don’t give a hoot. Consequently, four or five different characters are constantly chewing gum. One character is perpetually eating Twizzlers.
Two characters set tripwire traps throughout the facility and end up tripping over them themselves. I can’t stress enough that they are a repair team. These are repair technicians.
Finally, the acting in this film ranges from “poor” to “astonishing.” This is best illustrated by the several moments in which John Savage seems to forget his lines in the middle of saying them.
Maybe he was thinking about The Deer Hunter.