A trilogy of family-friendly fantasy movies made by Charles Band for Moonbeam Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Direct to Video B-Movie studio Full Moon, which is better known for producing R-rated horror movies.
Prehysteria! involves a young boy named Jerry and his family embark on a series of adventures when Jerry finds some mysterious eggs which hatch to reveal a brood of baby dinosaurs. The five baby dinos are named after famous pop musicians. Including Elvis, a male Tyrannosaurus Rex, Paula, a female Brachiosaurus, Jagger, a male Stegosaurus, Hammer, a male Chasmosaurus, and Madonna, a female Pteranodon.
The first movie in the series, Prehysteria! is about Rico Sarno, a museum curator, who enters a ancient temple in a South American jungle, and discovers a nest of five eggs. He steals them and brings them back to his museum. Frank Taylor, a farmer, sells fossils to Rico and in a mix up, the Taylor's dog takes a cooler, which has the eggs. The kids, Monica and Jerry discover the dinos when they hatch and try to keep it a secret, until their father finds out. Vicki, a woman who works for Rico, sees the dinos, she tells the Taylors not to give them back to Rico because he will expose them. Rico finds out the Taylors have them and hires two robbers to help him get the dinos back.
Continuing in Prehysteria! 2 Mr. Cranston is a friend of the Taylors and he watches the mini dinosaurs while they are on vacation. The five babies break out of the Taylors' farm and accidentally get shipped into a crate of raisins. The crate is found in a box car by Naomi, a girl whose father works at the train station and a rich kid named Brendan Wellington who she helped hide in the box car while being chased by bullies. When the two discover the dinos, desperate for attention because his father Brendan tries to keep them. Needless to say, things don't go exactly as planned.
This follows straight into Prehysteria! 3. This time, the saurian gang falls out of the back of Mr. Cranston's truck, and they make their way to another family's home. The dinosaurs help the MacGregor family, who is struggling with their mini-putt golf course. Ella MacGregor, is in love with her Scottish ancestry, but is dispondant that the mini golf course is going under. She finds the dinos, and with her family's help, they re-build the golf course with a dinosaur theme, which helps them a lot. But Ella's evil uncle Hal MacGregor is determined to take over the course by all means, and Ella and her parents must hide the mini dinosaurs.
Despite the similar sounding titles, these movies have nothing to do with Histeria!.
The film series provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Not exactly a parent, but Mrs. Winters is an emotionally abusive caretaker to Brendan in the second film.
- All Animals Are Dogs: The baby dinos are as playful and friendly as puppies.
- All Flyers Are Birds: Except Madonna, who acts more like a parrot.
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Invoked with Madonna, according to Andrea Von Sholly, who had the real life Madonna in mind when designing her. Averted with the others, who are all relatively muted tones.
- Artistic License Biology: All of the baby dinos in the films were juveniles. Turns out the puppets used for them are minture models of adult-sized dinosaurs. Although given later revelations about pterosaurs, Madonna's design is now a case of Accidentally Correct Writing.
- Artistic License Paleontology: Avoided design-wise, as almost all of the dinos are accurate models for their time. Played straight behavior-wise, as all of the animals act like common house pets.
- Asshole Victim: in the first film, Rico Sarno. Mrs. Winters in the second. Hal MacGregor in the third movie.
- Big Bad:
- Rico in the first film, who wants to take the baby dinosaurs and get rich off of them.
- Mrs. Winters in the second film, who emotionally abuses Brendan and later calls in an exterminator when she is led to believe that he is hiding an animal in the mansion.
- Hal MacGregor in the third film, who wants to take over a small time golf course.
- Big Damn Heroes: Madonna swooping in for the save being the most obvious.
- Big Eater: All of the babies.
- Carnivore Confusion: Despite being a Tyrannosaurus rex, Elvis is mostly vegetarian, with one his favorite snacks being, rasins. He enjoys eating dog food, though.
Vicki: (after almost feeding a vegetable to him) Oh, I forgot, you don't eat leaves. (Elvis snaps at her) Sorry!
- Extreme Omnivore: He actually seems to eat just about anything he can sink his teeth into. At one point, he catches a fly with his jaws.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The dinosaurs' eggs seem to have this going on:
- Reddish-brown egg: Elvis
- Black egg: Jagger
- Brightly colored egg: Madonna
- Bluish egg: Hammer
- Brown egg: Paula
- Cutting the Electronic Leash: The father of Brendan in Prehysteria 2 violently throws his ringing phone against the wall, breaking it.
- Dirty Coward: Rico
- Domesticated Dinosaurs: The basic premise of the trilogy.
- Egg MacGuffin: The eggs the baby dinos hatched from were treated like this, until they hatch.
- Expy: In a similar vein to Dennis Nedry, Rico Sarno is a greedy Fat Slob who works in a dinosaur-related project just to obtain a huge financial profit for himself and is more than willing to resort to underhanded methods to get what he desires.
- Fat Bastard: Rico is overweight and is an avaricious asshole.
- Fat Slob: Good ole Rico is basically Dennis Nedry with a mustache and without glasses.
- Fun Size: The dinosaurs. Vicki deducts that they were dormant in their eggs for so long that they'll never get any bigger than they are now (or, as Mr. Taylor puts it, "[they] got the runts of the litter").
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs
- Five-Man Band: List for the baby dinos follows.
- For Science!: Rico's excuse for everything he does, he's really just doing it all for monetary gain.
- Freudian Excuse: In Prehysteria 3, Mr. Mac Gregor seems to overreact to squeaky sounds (like his back door). Later Ella finds out that her father's golf pro hopes came to an end when a loud, high-pitched bird cry (later revealed to be Hal using a whistle disguised as a cigarette) caused him to miss his putt.
- Goofy Print Underwear: Mr. Taylor wears boxers with raisins on them.
- Hand Wave: The explanation as to why the dinos are stuck in their small size. See Fun Size.
- Harmless Villain: Rico Sarno and Ella's uncle Hal MacGregor in the third. As well as Rico's two helpers in the first film.
- Herbivores Are Friendly: All the babies are heroic herbivores (except for Elvis and Madonna Madonna being a pterosaur and fish eater. And Elvis, for obvious reasons...though he seems to like dog food).
- Hidden in Plain Sight
- Hot Scientist: Vicki in the first film, which is lampshaded by Monica.Monica: (to her father) Getting pretty cozy with Professor Cupcake, aren't you?
- Little Stowaway: The baby dinos in the second movie.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Brendan in movie 2. He's a somewhat more realistic example, though, as his loneliness stems less from his wealth and more from his father's absence.
- Magical South American: Jefe
- Mama Bear and Papa Wolf: All the children are very protective of the babies.
- Missing Mom: Mrs. Taylor in the first movie (dead) and Brendan's mother in the second (divorced his workaholic father, who won custody of him since he could afford the best lawyer).
- Musical Theme Naming: The five dinosaurs are named after singers and musicians: Elvis, Madonna, Jagger, Paula and J.D. Hammer.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
- In the first film, Rico and his goons kidnap all the dinosaurs except Madonna, who escapes by flying through a hole in the greenhouse roof. How did the hole get there? One of Rico's goons tried to shoot Madonna.
- In the third film, Hal and Needlemeyer get paranoid that Heath overheard their plan, so Hal asks Needlemeyer to make sure he doesn't squeal, so Needlemeyer forcibly cuts Heath's hair. Guess who pulls a Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal followed by a Big Damn Heroes moment when Needlemeyer tries to sabotage Ella's putt at the Triceratops hole?
- Non-Malicious Monster: Elvis, no doubt when he grows up.
- Non-Indicative Name: In-universe example.
- Parent with New Paramour: A plot point in the first film, with Mr. Taylor (a widower) falling in love with his coworker Vicki. Monica doesn't take to kindly to this at first, but a heart to heart with her father helps her warm up to the whole situation.
- Parrot Pet Position: In the first film, Madonna's favorite thing to do was sit on Monica's shoulder.
- Polly Wants a Microphone: Madonna can mimic human speech like a parrot.
- The Pratfall: This would befall some of the villians. Thanks to the baby dinos.
- Prehistoric Monster: Totally and utterly averted. All the dinosaurs are adorable and gentle. Until you anger them.
- Ptero Soarer: Madonna. Also kind of zig zagged; she's a fairly accurate model, appearance-wise (with the sole exception of lacking the short crest that a female Pteranodon/Geosternbergia would have), but in behavior she's more like a parrot than a Pterosaur.
- Really 700 Years Old: The babies are technically over 20 million years old. It's justified as their eggs where in some form of stasis before they hatched.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: Every single one of the five baby dinos.
- Samus Is a Girl: Monica is not pleased at the amount of people who get Madonna's gender wrong.(while Madonna is swooping in to save her siblings)Thug: (angry) I'm gonna rip his little beak off!Rico: (panicked) He's gonna rip his little beak off!Monica: It's a she you crooks!
- Prehysteria 3 contains a hearty reference to JFK as Ella's father reexamines the bird call and resulting failed putt that ended his golfing career and realizes that Hal sabotaged his putt by making a fake bird call."Frame 260 the fatal chirp rings out. My head flinches toward the noise. But look at this; I don't look towards the tree where the only birds could possibly be, but back and to the left towards the grassy knoll [where Hal is standing]. See? Back and to the left! Back and to the left! Back and to the left! My putt was pronounced dead on arrival, and so was my PGA career, but this proves that it was not a lone bird chirp! It was a conspiracy!"
- Also in 3, when a Japanese businessman sees Needlemeyer be set upon by a man in a dinosaur costume, he cries, "It's Gojira!"
- Prehysteria 3 contains a hearty reference to JFK as Ella's father reexamines the bird call and resulting failed putt that ended his golfing career and realizes that Hal sabotaged his putt by making a fake bird call.
- Shown Their Work: Anatomically, the baby dinosaurs were quite consistent with the adult versions of their real life counterparts at the time (the inaccuracies that are in the film are mostly due to Rule of Cool mixed with Science Marches On). Very much justified, as the artists who designed them (Peter and Andrea Von Sholly) have both done research on dinosaur anatomy.
- Starring Special Effects: And really good special effects too!
- Stock Dinosaurs: Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus, and Brachiosaurus all appear as leads. They were all no doubt chosen specifically to appeal to young people. On the other hand, the token ceratopsian is Chasmosaurus rather than Triceratops. They also have a stock pterosaur, who also subverts this trope by being what was formerly an obscure genus of Pteranodon known as Pteranodon Sternbergi (now known as Geosternbegia)
- Straw Hypocrite: In the first film, Rico claims to be trying to revolutionize the scientific community but is really just in it purely for profit. In the second, Mrs. Winters claims that she wants to ship Brendan to a boarding school for his own good when in reality all she wants is to get rid of him.
- Stupid Scientist: Rico Sarno.
- Theme Naming: The five dinos are all named after famous musicians.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: Brendan's relationship with his father in the second movie.