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JOLLY SCREEN GIANTS

DINOSAUR CHIC

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Easy question: What summer movie stars a member of the Dern family, was produced by a legendary Hollywood filmmaker, and features a plot about cloning dinosaurs from fossilized DNA? Guess again. It’s Carnosaur, schlock king Roger Corman’s new horror flick starring Diane Ladd (Laura Dern’s mom) as a dinosaur-obsessed scientist who cooks up a T. rex and others in the prehistoric food chain in her genetics lab. It’s just one of a slew of Jurassic-type projects rushing to cash in on what Hollywood is hoping will be the biggest reptile craze since One Million Years, B.C. ”These things work in cycles,” offers Corman. ”There’s always been a fascination with dinosaurs-they were the greatest, strongest creatures ever to walk the earth-but interest has been building for the past few years. The public has seen enough of outer-space pictures and now the horror and mystery of dinosaurs is coming back.”

And he’s not just talking about Barney strutting his purple stuff on PBS. There’s also Yoshi, the midget dinosaur in the new movie Super Mario Bros. Some other, potentially mightier behemoths expected to roam the earth soon:

* Cadillacs and Dinosaurs A new CBS Saturday-morning animated kid series, due this fall, about 26th-century ecologists who drive around the planet in an antique Caddy and battle beasties brought back from earth’s ancient past. * Prehysteria Pygmy dinosaurs from South America are hatched in Austin (Last Action Hero) O’Brien’s basement in this direct-to-video kid movie. The film was rushed into stores this month, just in time for Jurassic’s opening. * We’re Back Spielberg hasn’t finished mining fossils. Due in November from his Amblin Entertainment is this animated feature about a time-traveling family of dinosaurs, featuring the voices of John Goodman, Martin Short, Jay Leno, and cookbook queen Julia Child. * The Flintstones Spielberg yet again (this time as executive producer; Beethoven’s Brian Levant directs). The occasion is a live-action feature based on the TV cartoon of the 1960s, with John Goodman as Fred, Rick Moranis as Barney, Rosie O’Donnell as Betty, Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma, Elizabeth Taylor as Wilma’s mom, and dinosaurs designed by Industrial Light & Magic (Jurassic’s computer artists) and the Henson Group Creature Shop, so you know some will be cute. Due next summer. * Godzilla Strictly speaking, of course, he’s a monster, not a dinosaur, but never mind. TriStar Pictures is giving the big green guy his first megabudget Hollywood treatment. * T. Rex A buddy cop film about a New York City policewoman who with her mild- mannered partner, a tyrannosaurus, uncovers a plot to destroy the world. Whoopi Goldberg was originally slated to star (with Ted Danson reportedly doing the voice of the dino) but is currently in court trying to pull out of the project; no word yet on who’ll replace her.

As for Corman’s Carnosaur: The producer insists that any similarity in plot or casting to Jurassic Park is purely coincidental. ”I know both Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg,” Corman says. ”I consider them both to be totally honorable men. I don’t think either of them stole my idea. I don’t think they ripped me off.” *