Movie Review: The Jurassic Dead

The Jurassic Dead - movie poster one sheetA mad scientist wants to bring America to its knees by shooting missiles at major cities. But that’s not all, he’s also invented a potion that brings the dead back to life! In fact, he’s brought a T-Rex back to life too, and it’s on a rampage in his secret desert HQ! And two groups end up fighting for their lives against both the T-Rex, the mad scientist and their friends who have been turned into zombies because of an EMP that’s knocked out all electronics!

Sounds like a lot of storyline to jam into a single movie, doesn’t it? Well, the writer and director are clearly trying to play The Jurassic Dead as a serious horror sci-fi thriller, but in fact the film is far more effective as Mystery Science Theater 3000 sort of parody. My daughter and I had a hilarious time yelling at the screen, complaining about continuity errors (“he has a kerchief on his head! No, he has a baseball cap!”) and trying to figure out what the heck was going on.

The story launches with neophyte mad scientist Dr. Wojick Borge (Cooper Elliott) demonstrating his fluorescent revivification cocktail (think Re-Animator) to his college students on a dead and quite obviously rubber cat who – surprise! – comes to life in a quite alarming manner. He’s summarily fired and oh, I wanted some sort of “Steen! Franken-steen!” line thrown in to this obvious rip-off of Young Frankenstein‘s brilliant opening scene.

The film switches inexplicably to a group of mercenaries led by Duque (Andy Haman) who is so much the spitting image of the video game character Duke Nukem that other characters in the film even point that out. Also on his band of barely competent thugs is Swat (Juan Gonzalez), who has a police badge hanging around his neck for no obvious reason, Cuchilla (Raquel Pennington), the token female badass who is underutilized in the action sequences, Stick (Ruselis Aumeen Perry), who might or might not actually have some military experience and Spivey (Shale Le Page). Ahhh, Spivey. He’s some sort of redneck character, armed to the teeth and wearing a flag as a head scarf. He’s also a jerk, and inexplicably unkind.

As the comedic foil, I think, are a group of four high school kids who are also traveling through the desert when the EMP hits. Oh, we’ll get back to the EMP and the desert, no worries. They’re football player bonehead Gunnar (Ben Johnson), his vapid blonde girlfriend Roxanne (Nicole Goeke), her nerd sister Sadie (Mia Klosterman) and her stoner boyfriend Cameron (Adam Singer).

So both groups are cruising through an unnamed desert area when a meteor crashes into the earth and causes an electro-magnetic pulse that stops the cars, kills their cellphones and shuts down Sadie’s Gameboy. Oh, the humanity! Each group climbs out of their vehicles and instead of walking along the road, head independently to the mysterious lair of the evil mad scientist (Dr. Borge, who is now channeling Darth Vader by way of the Goodwill prop department for no obvious reason).

Borge traps the two groups in his lair and unleashes, yes, a T-Rex that’s actually undead. It’s a Z-Rex and it turns people it bites into zombies. At least, if it doesn’t actually just chomp them. The tone of the entire show can be explained by the one scene when Duque walks up and punches out the T-Rex. Really. We even see a few teeth knocked out. Then the Tyrannosaurus realizes its already dead and jumps up to attack!

Duque (Andy Haman) goes mano-a-claw with Z-Rex, from "The Jurassic Dead"
Duque (Andy Haman) goes mano-a-claw with Z-Rex, from “The Jurassic Dead”

Most all of the film then takes place in the secret desert bunker in mostly incomprehensible ways. Dr. Borge is pulling strings in the background (note: the EMP effects end as soon as everyone gets into the desert facility, though they never quite seem to realize that it means their cellphones would now work too) as Z-Rex and the zombies go after the dwindling number of survivors. Kind of like a Scooby-Doo meets Z-Rex episode, minus the amusing canine cast member.

If you try to watch The Jurassic Dead as a serious horror thriller, you’re going to shake your head and switch to something else, ANYTHING else, within five or ten minutes. The performances are universally horrible, the visual effects are straight off a home PC, and the constant continuity errors and baffling storyline are enough to drive you to swearing off the genre entirely. But grab a few pals and view it as a challenge for who can be the most snarky and sarcastic as the movie proceeds and you might just have a great time watching this bizarre indie movie.

And as for watching it with your kids? Maybe if they’re old enough and mature enough to understand parody. But for the littles, it might be a bit violent, even if the action sequences are poorly done.

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