The Unfinished Attack of the Dinosaurs

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Like many other kids, I collected trading cards when I was little, and one of my favorite sets was the Dinosaurs Attack! series by Topps. In retrospect I cannot image why my parents purchased them for me. They were absolutely revolting and featured gory scenes of mindless carnage. A few cards laid out the basic story as to how dinosaurs and other creatures were transported to the present, but mostly it was an excuse to show dinosaurs devouring people.

There was little attempt at scientific accuracy in the set. Every dinosaur apparently craved flesh; one particularly disturbing example shows a pair normally herbivorous Parasaurolophus digging into a school bus full of children as if it were a lunch box. Other dinosaurs had human-like hands, and late in the series a dinosaur devil even appeared. Given the graphic nature of the cards it is not all that surprising that they were not a commercial success, but apparently its creators were hoping it would be a bigger smash.

In 1991, Eclipse Comics released the first issue of what was to be a three-issue run of a fuller Dinosaurs Attack! storyline. It was just as gruesome as the cards, recreating a few scenes from the Topps series, and promised more bloody mayhem to come. Unfortunately for the relatively few fans of the series, it was never continued. There are a few copies of the first issue floating around, though, if you know where to look. My copy just arrived in the mail and it certainly makes me wish that the other two issues had been completed!

Given this lack of success it is surprising that there once was a possibility that Dinosaurs Attack! might make it to the big screen. An afterword in the first comic issue notes that filmmakers Joe Dante and Mark Finnell had optioned the franchise and were developing a big-screen version. Apparently this did not get far, and Tim Burton (who also showed interest in it) scuttled his plans to adapt it for the cinema after the success of Jurassic Park in 1993. Dinosaur fanatics who wanted to see an R-rated version of that more successful film would have to settle for the cheesy Carnosaur film series instead.

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