If you were eight years old in 1993, there’s a chance you’ll have fond memories of the three Prehysteria! films – and maybe those memories will carry you through the hokey dialogue, cheesy performances and contrived action. The first of these movies, being given its US Blu-ray bow courtesy of Full Moon Features, might have enough goofy charm to please the younger among the family, but the more discerning viewer is more likely to look at the cheap effects, the obvious plotting and the tacky acting and see something that looks like a relic of another age.
Arriving just a couple of months ahead of Jurassic Park, and no doubt hoping to steal a march on its coat-tails, Charles (Dollman vs. Demonic Toys) Band’s picture – made with his father Albert – tells the story of five frozen dinosaur eggs, stolen from a forbidden temple by a comically unscrupulous museum curator, which accidentally fall into the hands of a recently widowed farmer and his two children before being hatched by the family’s pet dog. Once Rico Sarno (Lee) realises what’s happened, he hires a couple of hoods to help him retrieve the born-adult but miniature (something to do with Darwinism, apparently, according to the ‘make it up as you go along’ script) dinosaurs, and much mayhem – and a little mirth, albeit the best of it probably unintentional – ensues.
From the opening moments where we see Sarno heading through the South American jungle with a native guide, the scene is set; not only does this sequence look like it was filmed in a garden centre, but Sarno’s horribly brash racism towards his escort is uncomfortable to watch, even as it’s supposed to be – and the Indiana Jones-style stunt as Sarno enters the temple is both clumsy and takes place on such a tiny set the actor barely fits inside; indeed the entrance wobbles as he brushes past. This is filmmaking of expediency rather than either professionalism or extemporisation.
The Taylor family fare a little better, with son Jerry (O’Brien) a twelve-year-old Elvis obsessive and his older sister Monica (Mills) wanting to spend school nights in the company of older boys (her boyfriend might be sixteen according to the script, but looks closer to thirty when we meet him – and is the single funniest thing about the film); if the relationships between the two kids and their now-single father lack any kind of tension, there’s a pleasant enough chemistry, added to when Sarno’s sympathetic employee Vicky (Morris), who has a thing for father Frank (Cullen), moves in.
It’s a nice enough transfer with some interesting extras (the Videozone ‘making of’ instalment looks like it was sourced from an off-air VHS recording), but boy, Prehysteria! hasn’t aged well.
Extras: trailer, commentary, Videozone episode
PREHYSTERIA! / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: ALBERT BAND, CHARLES BAND / SCREENPLAY: GREG SUDDETH, MARK GOLDSTEIN, MICHAEL DAVIS / STARRING: BRETT CULLEN, COLLEEN MORRIS, SAMANTHA MILLS, AUSTIN O’BRIEN, STEPHEN LEE / RELEASE DATE: 23rd OCTOBER