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Dinosaur Drive-In: Raptor

In it's own weird way, Raptor is the matryoshka doll of awful dinosaur cinema

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The poster for the 2001 b-movie Raptor.

You know a movie is going to be bad when the first scene is lifted directly from another b-movie.

When I flipped on Raptor (2001), I thought I had somehow made a mistake and rented the gory dinosaur flick Carnosaur (1993). The opening scene—in which a trio of airhead teens is ripped to shreds by the cutest little raptor puppet you have ever seen—was straight out of schlock legend Roger Corman’s earlier film. As I soon found out, this wasn’t the only thing the wannabe dinosaur horror lifted from other movies. In it’s own weird way, Raptor is the matryoshka doll of awful dinosaur cinema—there are at least three crummy films nested within the larger one.

There isn’t really much to say about the plot of Raptor. The movie relies almost entirely on recycled footage from Carnosaur, Carnosaur 2 and Carnosaur 3 for its dinosaur special effects shots. Raptor condenses those three movies into one pile of cinema mush so that all the dinosaur shots will have the right set up. (For sharp-eyed audiences, this explains why there are life preservers on the walls of the landlocked facility, because scenes reused from Carnosaur 3 originally took place on a boat. Whoops.)  A grumpy small town sheriff (Eric Roberts) and a plastic-surgery-enhanced animal control officer (Melissa Brasselle) take their sweet time scratching their heads at the dinosaur-bitten remains of multiple citizens, while the local mad scientist (Corbin Bernsen) pushes forward with his project to resurrect dinosaurs and adds a bit of humor by looking ridiculous in his nerd-glasses/beret combo.

Raptor really doesn’t need any of the principal characters, though. The same movie could have been created by simply re-editing all three Carnosaur films, especially since Roberts, Brasselle, Bernsen and the other actors don’t even seem to be in the same movie half the time. In the poorly-matched duel between a Tyrannosaurus and the sheriff in a skid loader—come on, how could the tyrannosaur possibly lose?—Roberts is shown bouncing around in a Bobcat while shots of the dinosaur from Carnosaur and Carnosaur 2 are edited in. The two may as well be in entirely different dimensions, the match up between the new footage and the old stock is so bad. But it gets even worse. The film’s director, Jay Andrews, brought in two supporting characters from the original Carnosaur to film some new shots that would set up the recycled clips of their deaths. (For a full list of all the silly mash-up moments between the new shots and the old death scenes, see the page for Raptor on WikiSciFi.) Not that Roger Corman minded. After all, he produced this bit of cinema trash. Never underestimate the eagerness of schlock horror filmmakers to go for the easy direct-to-video cash grab.

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About Brian Switek
Brian Switek

Brian Switek is a freelance science writer specializing in evolution, paleontology, and natural history. He writes regularly for National Geographic's Phenomena blog as Laelaps.

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