4 out of 5

Directed by: Adam Simon

The early 90s was a good time for shitty movies. I mean, every era was, or has been, in its own way, but the Totally Rad slice of time from, like, 1989 to 1993 was when classic schmaltz was firmly in the rearview, classic classics of the 70s and 80s were established, we were gaining a little more awareness of the world – the babiest of baby steps – as technology and communication access ticked forward, and B-flicks struck did not yet have convenient CGI at their hands for monsters and blood. Enter: Carnosaur, and its awesome puppet T-Rex and dino babies causing off-screen havoc, or on screen, when we can get some red splurts inserted, and dino arms scrabbling at the edges of the scene, and an actor game to scream and wriggle.

Eye-rolly pokes at consumerism; vague environmentalism; Clint Howard; subtitles that tell you about ticking upward infection rates every few minutes; a mad scientist with the maddest of plans; a cool, smoking, 90s bro lead and his woman – not girl! – love interest; yeah, this is wholly of its time, but is executed in a confident juggle of camp and story, that actually encourages watching and listening. Not necessarily because you can’t grasp the gist by just having it on in the background, or that you’re missing some deeper subtext, but the movie has actual performances and direction, and doesn’t skimp on dino-slaughter action whenever it can, including lots of B-roll of our cutie just prancing about town. In short: it’s all in on being what it is, but that doesn’t mean that it’s phoned in.

That said, it’s still a B-movie, and perhaps even a bit over-stuffed in trying to adapt its book source into a sub-90 minute flick, meaning some parallel story tracks about GMO food and lab-grown dinos and mad scientist lady (Dianne Ladd) and cool smoking bro (Raphael Sbarge) can sometimes feel like they’re all from / playing in separate movies, but by the same token, it does all have tenuous enough links, if ultimately edited together with New Horizon Pictures style of “get to the goods as quick as possible” deftness.