Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English


RAPTOR (2001/2002)

Notes: 87 min.

Sheriff Jim Tanner — Eric Roberts
Dr. Hyde –Corbin Bernsen
Barbara Phillips — Melissa Brasselle
Captain Conolly — Tim Abell
Deputy Ben — Harrison Paige
Sheriff’s Daughter — Lorissa McComas
Lyle — Frank Novack
Josh — Grant Cramer
Also starring Tippy Lemond.

Written: Jay Andrews, Michael B. Druxman, Frances Doel
Produced: Roger Corman
Directed: Jay Andrews
Music: James Horner

Summary: Three student joyriders in the desert pull over. One urinates and drinks beer while the other two make out in the jeep. All are slaughtered by a reptilian creature and their bumper-sticker, “May Peace Prevail on Earth” is spattered with blood.

Sheriff Jim Tanner has trouble on the phone with the power company over payment of his bill. He likens the deaths to those of a hiker mauled by a grisly bear, but Barbara Phillips, an animal control official, thinks no, nor a cougar. It’s a 150-200-pound animal with an odd track. They hear a noise. The wind?

There’s been a break-in at the poultry plant / egg hatchery / secret experimental lab, and beret-wearing Dr. Hyde has a fit at his subordinates. The thing responsible for the deaths probably can’t live more than 3 to 5 days without laser treatment. Meanwhile, a chicken truck is getting past security on its way out of the plant. When the driver later hears a noise, stops, and sees the chickens loose, he opens the door and is eaten. A deputy finds the truck and signs of slaughter, phones in a report, and is himself eaten. The animal traumatizes the sheriff’s daughter and kills her boyfriend Tommy. She drives off and jumps from the vehicle but in the hospital is in a traumatic coma.

Because of the shipping chart found in the chicken truck, Sheriff Jim and Barbara head to the Eunice Corporation facility where employee Lyle is pleading with Hyde to be let go. Hyde says the deaths are an accident and that they’re close to developing dinosaurs with advanced brains so that the species could help humankind. Hyde says Lyle can retire after walking near the major T-Rex, “immobilized by the lasers,” as part of a reaction experiment. Lyle is eaten while Josh McCoy, head of security, puts off the Sheriff. That loud noise is heard again and Barbara records it on tape. They play the noise to the daughter and she immediately comes screaming out of her catatonia.

Reports of an escaped convict with a vendetta against the town police have another deputy looking into th downtown vandalism. At a pet store he shoots an attacking dinosaur, but the thing is not dead and, lying in the street, punctures the deputy through with its hind claws.

Barbara finds a gigantic tooth in the deputy’s corpse and the convict, Carl Joseph, has already been arrested in Boise. A contact of the Sheriff gets word from a Colonel Vandermar that the army was involved with the facility at one time, but the place was sold off into “the private sector” twelve years ago — they terminated their research for “Project Jurassic Storm” with Hyde. Supposedly the doctor is working on applications for the human genome project now.

The Sheriff arranges to have the power to the plant shut off for a while after he gains entry. He and Barbara confront Hyde, a “top animal behaviorist,” according to their Internet search. Barbara accuses him of hatching dinosaurs, so everyone pulls guns and the two are locked up. The army finds out that Hyde has gotten foreign funding from Pakistan; to keep their earlier involvement hushed, they decide to shut down Hyde and send in special ops.

When the power goes out, Jim and Barbara escape confinement. Dinosaurs are loose and military people keep getting picked off and eaten. They also bust through elevators to get another lab assistant and others. One female soldier gets a copter in the air but is attacked by a stowaway dino and crashes into Josh. One dinosaur guards a clutch of eggs, so when soldiers shoot up the nest, it attacks. The biggest T-Rex head-butts its way out of the building and eats Hyde, escaping in a worker disguise. With large doors open and a bomb about to blow the facility sky-high, Jim murmurs, “Eat this, Barney,” and drives a fork-lift into the dinosaur, knocking it down into the building in time for the explosion. No one has anything to say or any perspective in the end.

Commentary: Lots of stringy intestinal ravaging, some footage from the Carnosaur movies, anda fork-lift scene seems inspired by the 1960 movie, Dinosaur! are this film’s distinctions. Occasionally the dinosaurs goofily hop along like muppets gone horribly wrong.

There may be some attempts at pseudo-cleverness, but one cannot be sure. Is that one deputy actually named Mike Bolton? Is the Sheriff’s power bill problems an allusion to fossil fuel? I don’t know.