Steven Spielberg’s 1993 sci-fi-horror Jurassic Park raised for the bar for genre films as it broke global box-office records. Beloved by many, it quickly went on to inspire two direct sequels and a revival trilogy – though they’ve never quite captured the charm of the original.
As far as soft horror franchises go, Jurassic Park has sparked fear into audiences through the magic of well-executed visuals, CGI, and the power of imagination. In the fight against dinosaurs, lives are lost, some in a most unthinkably torturous manner.
Donald Gennaro – Jurassic Park
It’s the anticipated reveal of the T-Rex that elevates Jurassic Park from a sci-fi game-changer to a Spielberg masterpiece. Terror sinks in at the sight of rippling water. The ground shakes. The heart is pounding, and with groundbreaking visual effects that still impress to this day, the beast makes its debut.
What does a person do in this situation? For Gennaro (Martin Ferrero), when you gotta go, you gotta go, dinosaur be damned. It is a fairly coward move to bail on the kids to go hide away in the nearest restroom, so we don’t feel too bad for this guy; but imagine the sheer terror of having your hiding spot exposed to a man-eating killing machine.
Zara – Jurassic World
Jurassic World marks a new beginning; although, it seems nothing is learned from the disastrous events of the first film as to why opening a second park mere miles from the original may be tempting fate. With the team now creating their very own unique dinosaur from a mix of DNA, no one except Owen (Chris Pratt) is aware of the repercussions that could be faced.
One victim of the careless marketing scheme is Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard)’s assistant Zara (Katie McGrath). The lead-up to her death is nothing short of pure torture; it is brutal to watch the chain of events Zara is put through. Not only is she snapped up and tossed around midair by Pterosaurs, the PA finds her fate sealed when she is dropped into the lagoon, and eaten alive by the Mosasaurus while Pterosaurs still pick at her.
Eddie Carr – The Lost World: Jurassic Park
The Lost World, lacking a story as compelling as its predecessor, makes up for its use of cliché plot conventions with an impressive scope of effects. This sequel paves the way for a few pretty distressing attacks and kill scenes; and Eddie (Richard Schiff) is among the ill-fated crew.
The worst part of Eddie’s death is that he knows it’s coming, he can’t do anything to stop it, but he also doesn’t want to until he’s saved the lives of the leading trio. He’s the unsung hero of the movie, only to become a chew toy for a pair of T-Rexes. It’s probably the most gruesome demise within the original trilogy, as the dinos fight over his body, eventually tearing him in half.
Dive Team – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom stands out for its darker themes and visual aesthetics, but is simultaneously criticized for several controversial narrative decisions. Human cloning aside, the opening sequence matches its predecessors in building tension.
As a mercenary team scavenge Isla Nublar, divers descend on the lagoon to retrieve DNA from the Indominus Rex. As fans will recall, beneath the surface is the entrapped Mosasaurus. The pod is submerged by the darkness of the pool; unbeknownst to them the chilling silhouette of the beast lurks behind. It’s a terrifying image, knowing the creature can take out a pod that size in one swift bite – and it does.
Nick – Jurassic World
It would appear everyone in the franchise is competing for who can make the worst decision. Recreate dinosaurs from DNA? No problem. Lock them up in cages? Excellent. Guide a tour through the park with no emergency strategy? There’s your profit right there. However, nothing had viewers screaming at their screens like Jurassic World when Owen, along with two employees, willingly enters the paddock of a dinosaur known to camouflage.
By no means does this make Nick’s death any less frightening. He and Owen scramble to hide from the Indominus, finding refuge at a nearby vehicle. Owen watches in helpless horror as the beast sniffs out Nick. It plays out like a classic monster movie with it being just a matter of time before the victim is snagged and pulled to the depths of the dark below; only this time, the shark from Jaws is replaced with a highly intelligent, apparently unstoppable dinosaur.
Handler – Jurassic Park
Fewer movie experiences have lived up to the beginning of Jurassic Park. Spielberg knows how to set the mood. Our first taste of the franchise settles as a foreboding warning of how the rest of the film will play out. It’s a rare kind of cinematic flourish that is underutilized in the modern day.
The setup is nail-biting. Trees are rustling, grips on guns tighten, the reveal of the cage, all drilling nerves into our systems. What awaits the team inside the cage is ominous, but Spielberg refuses to show it, leaving everything up to our imagination. The POV switches from inside the cage to outside; viewers become the eyes of the beast as something is predicted to happen; then, a handler is snagged to his doom. It’s a horrific start to a cinematic phenomenon. The franchise has yet to top it.
Boat Crew – Jurassic Park III
Arguably the weakest of the franchise, Jurassic Park III manages to flip the switch with an introduction that shakes viewers to their core. It takes the exhilarating concept of parasailing and merges it with the horrifying realization that things are out of your control is about to go wrong – hundreds of feet above the sea, mind you.
Panic settles in for audiences and the pair suspended in the air, fog covering what lies beneath. The wire connecting them to the boat seemingly begins to hit turbulence; if the thought of plummeting down to the ocean doesn’t scare you, the reemergence of an empty boat will certainly be enough to get the ticker started. This scene works well in that it keeps the threat hidden away, showing only the aftermath. What could have possibly wiped out those on the boat? How did it remain unseen? Worst of all: where could it be?
Benjamin Lockwood – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Moral values have always been humanity’s greatest flaw within the Jurassic Park universe. The decision to resume the resurrection of dinosaurs is admittedly chaotic, questionable, and ignorant; yet, there are a handful of characters who apply compassion and logic when it comes to history repeating itself, and Hammond (Richard Attenborough)’s former partner Lockwood (James Cromwell) appears amongst the good bunch.
Lockwood’s death is perhaps one of the most horrifying in the franchise; it’s not at the cusp of a Dino encounter, but at the hands of his aide Eli Mills (Rafe Spall). His murder highlights that dinosaurs are not the only threat mankind is facing; it’s the people pulling the strings behind the operation. Mills is willing to stop at nothing to fulfill his agenda, even if it means eliminating another life should they stand in his way.
InGen Hunters – The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Wise guys finish last it seems, as the sequel raises its death toll immensely. If someone yells don’t enter the tall grass, you should maybe listen, particularly if there’s a chance a pack of Velociraptors are surrounding you. Although, if said someone instantaneously disregards their own advice to plod along into the tall grass, it’s probably worse to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Even armed with heavy artillery, these hunters are no match for the superior species. The raptors use the grass to move in undetected, an overhead shot letting viewers see just how outnumbered the group are before they get picked off one-by-one. This scene shows how effective the unseen assailant can be in conveying a tone of horror. They’ve brought an ambush upon themselves, with nowhere to run.
Dennis Nedry – Jurassic Park
At some point or another, most fans have found a way to utilize a good Jurassic Park quote in everyday conversation. Whether it’s Samuel L. Jackson telling us to “hold onto [our] butts” or Nedry (Wayne Knight)’s annoyingly catchy magic word taunt, the film has imbedded itself into the hearts of many for a whole list of reasons.
Nedry gets his less than desirable comeuppance when he runs into a pack of Dilophosaurus’. Small they may be, in pieces they will leave you. Viewers may not be rooting for Nedry, but being trapped in a car with a vicious dinosaur is a disturbing way to go, especially seeing as he locked himself in there to escape the others chasing him.
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