11 of the Worst Dinosaur Movies
Jurassic World was a not-so-surprising hit, rebooting a classic franchise for the modern era with all of the reptile-ranching ruckus we’ve come to expect. The sequel looks to up the ante, spreading the prehistoric mayhem to the outside world with all of the corporate hijinks and wild effects we’ve come to love.
But dinosaurs aren’t a secret ingredient that makes every movie good. It may seem hard to believe, but there are indeed films out there that feature prehistoric reptiles and still suck. Can you imagine how difficult that must be, to have the coolest animals that ever walked the earth at your disposal and still make a wack flick? The eleven directors we’re about to introduce you to pull it off. Let’s excavate a cinematic Hall of Shame of terrible dinosaur movies.
Roger Corman’s career is studded with rip-offs and cash-ins, and it made him rich. Just a month before Jurassic Park hit theaters, the Corman-produced Carnosaur debuted on the big screen to draft off a little dino-mania. This atrocious cheapie stars Diane Ladd as an insane poultry scientist injecting dinosaur DNA into chickens to make them grow bigger. Instead, she gets a mutant dinosaur that hatches from an egg and goes on a low-budget killing spree. Throw in a secondary plot about an airborne virus that makes human women get pregnant with dinosaur fetuses and you have a bizarre, incoherent mess that somehow still spawned two sequels.
Bearing the Lorenzo Lamas seal of quality, this 2012 mess is like a backwoods Jurassic Park. When a reclusive rancher somehow manages to breed dinosaurs, one escapes and starts murdering people, as you do. The FBI gets called in and the only person who can save us all is a waitress named Abbi. Horrible CGI dinosaurs are just the tip of the iceberg for what’s wrong with this movie – they look like the cutscenes for a PS2 game and can’t really interact with any of the live actors. Throw in endless, suspense-free chase scenes and you get a tremendous waste of time.
A Nymphoid Barbarian In Dinosaur Hell
This one just goes to show you that even a great title can’t save a bad movie. From the schlock-lords at Troma, this low-budget atrocity takes place after a nuclear holocaust, where humanity has been shocked back into prehistoric days and there’s somehow dinosaurs again too. The titular nymphoid barbarian is Lea, who is kidnapped by reptile men and has to fight her way free from Claymation reptiles and other hazards. This is probably the most sex-obsessed dinosaur film on this list, with numerous attempted makeouts and giant penis monsters all over the place.
Adventures In Dinosaur City
There are only a few plot contrivances that can bring human beings in contact with dinosaurs: time travel, genetic engineering, or mysterious island. 1991’s Adventures In Dinosaur City provides us with a fourth way: being sucked into a TV show. Three kids are vortexed through a big screen into a TV show full of anthropomorphic talking dinosaurs. Once they’ve adjusted, the trio needs to stop the malevolent plans of Mr. Bigg, an evil businessman with his sights on Tar Town. It’s a giant mess that’s obviously a Ninja Turtles cash-in, but the dino costumes aren’t that bad.
We’re Back! A Dinosaur Story
Animated films have long trafficked in dino-sploitation, with the insanely long-lived Land Before Time series the most obvious example. 1993’s We’re Back! A Dinosaur Story has a solid pedigree, being produced by Spielberg’s Amblimation studio, but it’s a hellacious mess. Protagonist Rex is a Tyrannosaurus (you don’t say) who is abducted by aliens and fed a special breakfast cereal that boosts his intelligence, along with a few other dinosaurs. They’re brought to the present day and hijinks ensue. The best thing about the movie is that John Malkovich was supposed to play the villain, Professor Screweyes, and bailed on the project during production because he was so disappointed in the material.
The subgenre of “post-apocalyptic dinosaurs” is a rough one to delve into, and this disastrous 1997 direct to video mess is a great example. Hell, Robert Z’Dar is even in it. Swiss martial artist Daniel Bernhardt plays “The Runaway,” an escaped slave who only speaks in Bible verses. He crash-lands on present-day Earth, pursued by “slavers” who use dinosaurs to track his scent. He teams up with a nun and gets arrested on suspicion of murder before the Cyborg Master runs him down and they kickbox. In the end, he becomes a counselor for troubled teens!
In the mid-1990s Whoopi Goldberg was near the peak of her career, with smash hits like the Sister Act series under her belt. And then, for some reason, she signed on to Theodore Rex. With a budget of $33.5 million, the futuristic buddy comedy that paired Goldberg (as “Katie Coltrane”) up with a human-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex… and they’re cops! It’s an “odd couple” premise that combines unconvincing puppets, dated pop culture references and a cast of slumming actors to horrible effect. This movie was a gigantic mess, testing so badly that New Line dumped it straight to video despite their significant financial investment. Before shooting even started, Whoopi tried to get out of her contract but was sued by the producers and forced to honor her commitment.
Fred Olen Ray never met a cheap rip-off he didn’t like, and 1994’s Dinosaur Island was obviously pushed out to capitalize on Jurassic Park mania. It’s actually a throwback to sleazy 50s Amazon woman movies, with lots of bad actresses with big knockers in fur bikinis posing in front of reptile puppets. When an Army plane goes down on a weird island, they discover a civilization of warrior women who are looking for virgins to sacrifice to the “Great One.” Of course, the women are all murderous lesbians and our brave soldiers must fight their way free.
If you’re trying to improve your dinosaur action movie, and you’ve already cast Coolio, what else is left? 2005 made for TV movie Pterodactyl deploys the titular flying reptile in a mess of a movie. For some reason, there’s a nest of pterodactyls along the Turkish-Armenian border (?) and a group of American teenagers are also camping there (???). Of course, they attack, but then things get even stupider with the introduction of a Special Forces team sent into the area to capture a terrorist. For some reason, nearly every character in the film is named after a famous sci-fi or fantasy writer, which we doubt they appreciated.
The phrase “A Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie” doesn’t typically fill viewers with confidence, and Anonymous Rex is no exception. Filmed as a backdoor pilot for a series that thankfully didn’t make it to order, it’s set in an alternate timeline where dinosaurs never went extinct but instead live amongst humans in disguise. Take a second to roll that concept around in your brain for a little bit and see if it makes any more sense. Vincent Rubio and Ernie Watson are cops… and dinosaurs who investigate a cult that is driving undercover reptiles to reveal themselves and murder humans. It’s flabbergastingly dumb in just about every way possible.
Tammy & The T-Rex
A teenage Denise Richards stars as Tammy in this bizarre and incoherent mid-90s mess. When her boyfriend (played by Paul Walker… mourn you ’til I join you, king) gets attacked by her jealous ex, things escalate until he’s mauled to death by a lion and his brain is put into a robotic dinosaur by a convenient mad scientist. The pair’s love that dare not speak its name leads them into a number of deeply weird situations. Overflowing with inappropriate humor, shoddy special effects and some remarkably excessive gore, this is a flick that has no idea why it was even made.