No one loves miniature things more than Charles Band and Full Moon Entertainment (in this case, Moonbeam), and “Prehysteria!” is a great example of such a statement. Not only does Charles Band manage to find a way to squeeze dinosaurs on to a film with such a small budget, but he does so in a very creative way. In the decade, dinosaurs were in vogue with everyone putting dinosaurs in to pop culture, and “Prehysteria!” is one of the better products of the time. It takes dinosaurs and makes them cute little critters with rock star names. And yes it’s a childhood favorite.
Museum Curator Rico Sarno finds a small group of dinosaur eggs, and steals them bringing them back home to America. When fossil selling dad and farmer Frank attempts to sell new specimens to Sarno, his children Monica and Jerry stumble upon a cooler containing the eggs, and they hatch producing a group of very small dog Chihuahua sized dinosaurs of a peculiar variety. While Jerry befriends them and bonds with them, Rico learns they have his treasure and sends a pair of robbers to take them back.
What’s fun about “Prehysteria!” is you get to kind of get a sense of the nineties thinking process, in how dinosaurs are seen as chic. Band could very well take a more horror based approach like “Jurassic Park” but here he opts for a more “ET” or Gizmo from “Gremlins” vibe. Say what you want about these movies, but the idea is a good one and it’s sad we never quite saw them re-imagined in to better films. The dinosaurs are basically puppets for the most part, allowing the puppeteers to move them only when absolutely necessary. While the inherent rigid movements of the puppets are distracting, they’re more charmingly distracting, kind of in the vein of stop motion.
Austin O’Brien has a good time in the role, pulling off a believable turn as this young boy who gets emotionally attached to the dinosaurs, and teaches them to love Elvis. Well, a facsimile of Elvis that doesn’t involving paying for the rights to his music. In either case, there’s something particularly lovable about these vanilla family films from the Moonbeam label. They’re inoffensive, safe, non-violent, and often times have a creative angle to their premise, even when they’re riffing on other superior genre films e.g. “Remote.” Even in the more young audiences today, “Prehysteria!” might just grab a new generation of fans. It’s too bad the sequels never improved on the concept.
For the new blu-ray edition, Charles Band and star Austin O’Brien re-unite to discuss “Prehysteria!” with a lively and entertaining commentary track. Finally there’s the vintage twenty minute “Videozone” segments, a wonderful carry over from the video store era that focuses on the making of the film.