After the debacle that was Extinction I was certainly leery about putting down my money for another low budget dinofest, but when I saw this was directed by Mark Polonia I had to give it a chance. For those who don’t recognize the name, Mark, along with his late brother John made an incredible number of low budget sci fi and horror films dating back to 1987’s Splatter Farm. Many of these have a charm that transcends their DIY camcorder origins. For just under $10 I had to buy it.
Mark had tackled dinosaurs before with 1994’s Saurians, his first film without his brother and an enjoyable exercise in microbudget filming. The two films share the basic idea of construction work freeing prehistoric beasts that were somehow still alive. Jurassic Prey however adds in a subplot concerning bank robbers, hostages and double crosses. This certainly helps fill out the film’s running time because there’s not nearly enough dinosaur action to keep our interest. This was actually intentionally done according to the making of feature on the DVD, it was intended to be a tribute to films like The Beast of Hollow Mountain where the creature was kept hidden until the film’s end. Thankfully they realized that might have worked in the 50’s but wouldn’t fly now and gave the critter more screen time.
After a bank robbery goes wrong and turns into a hostage situation, (the hostage having a few secrets of her own), the criminals hole up in a cabin out in the woods while everyone from cops to other criminals hunt for them. It’s like a cross between film noir and a horror film. Of course they, plus the occasional hiker, keep the Allosaurus well fed. The problem is the attacks are poorly done, consisting of the camera shaking and CGI blood flying around with maybe a flash of chewed flesh or innards. The CGI blood is particularly poorly done and looks worse than the fake blood used in Saurians when it comes down to it.
The creature itself is represented by either a rubbery looking puppet that resembles Godzilla’s son Minilla or in a few scenes by a stop motion figure that is genuinely fierce looking but bears no resemblance to the puppet. They should have just stuck with the stop motion creature and used fewer shots. The stop motion effects are by Brett Piper, who’s provided the effects for plenty of low budget films as well as directing fun outings like Drainiac and Bacterium.
Maybe I’m being overly harsh on a film that probably cost less than a good used car, but this is another total misfire. In the past, even when the budget fell short of the script’s ambitions the Polonias usually delivered a fun film, cheesy effects and all. This time it all falls flat. The crime story is weak and never builds any suspense and the dinosaur segments are equally dull. Characters go outside, wander around and get eaten. And amazingly nobody seems to notice that they’re gone, or just how many people are missing up until the end. Maybe it’s because he was working from a script not written by him or his brother and it’s pretty much beyond saving.
I saw this on DVD from Wild Eye Releasing, surprisingly for a budget release it has a couple of extras, a short making of feature and a commentary track. There’s also a collection of trailers for other Wild Eye releases, though whether you consider that an extra or advertising is up to you.