Tammy and the T-Rex (1994)

There are many movies where reviewing them just seems to be defeating the purpose.  Before I get too far into this I will just say that in every single way possible Tammy and the T-Rex is not a good movie.  Director and co-writer Stewart Raffill can make good movies, as evidenced by The Philadelphia Experiment or, for a decent part of its runtime, The Ice Pirates.  However, many of his movies, like this one and Mac and Me, are known for all the wrong reasons. 

I knew going into this that it was not going to be great.  The one saving grace is that Vinegar Syndrome in 2019 was able to unearth the intended version of the movie rather than the one released to theaters in 1994, which included all the acting skills of Denise Richards combined with the nuances of the story minus any of the low-budget gore.  Then again, when reviewing a movie like this, it is important to keep in mind that it was made for a million dollars because some guy who had a prop and a million dollars asked Raffill to come up with some way of making a movie before the animatronic dinosaur got to its new home at a Texas amusement park.  Considering that, and also considering that there is a large niche market for dinosaur porn, this could have been much worse. 

Michael (Paul Walker) is a jock that is in love with Tammy (Richards).  Problem is, Tammy has a stalker named Billy (George Pilgrim) who, despite a restraining order, hasn't got the point.  He continues to threaten to kill Michael and, somehow, despite doing that in front of the local police, is allowed to run free with his band of hooligans.  When Wendy (Shevonne Durkin), one of Billy's groupies, sees Michael sneaking into Tammy's house for a bit of fun, she lets Billy know.  He invades Tammy's home, beats and kidnaps Michael and leaves him stranded in a wild animal park where he is mauled by a lion.

This is only the beginning of Michael's problems as his being in a coma results in being kidnaped again by Dr. Wachenstein (Terry Kiser) and his assistant Helga (Ellen Dubin) who remove his brain to put in a robot dinosaur designed by scientist Bobby (John Franklin).  Michael, in tyrannosaurus form, escapes and convinces Tammy and her friend Byron (Theo Forsett) to help him.  On the run from the police after getting his revenge and in search of a new body, Tammy and Byron try to do what they can to save Michael's brain.

The owner of the prop was not happy with the final result as he was hoping Raffill would make a family film using it.  Instead, he got a weird romance with a number of cheap gore effects.  This led the t-rex's owner to do his own cut of the film which somehow made it to theaters.  Also, although there is some joking about, it there is never a scene where Tammy does more than spoon with the t-rex.  That kind of activity was pretty much out the moment that Raffill made it clear that this was a robot and not some sort of Jurassic Park inspired dinosaur. 

I can understand why fans of bad movies like this because it contains many of the factors one would expect.  Raffill never intended this to be a kid's movie and more than likely thought it was going to go direct to video where it would at least make its money back.  Other than the basic plot there wasn't much to it and supposedly everyone on the crew had input on how to stretch it far enough to make a feature film. 

I am surprised that it sits well at all with modern audiences because many of the effects are laughable and appear unfinished.  Scenes of the dinosaur walking don't even mesh with the environment around it, and one gore scene is obviously the actor holding a bundle of animal organs over a bloodstained shirt.  Even worse is Byron who is portrayed in the most stereotypical gay fashion as possible and, even though his father is sheriff, the deputies have no problem making homophobic jokes or referring to him in a certain term.  Even in 1994 this type of portrayal was starting to feel worn out and a bit uncomfortable. 

There are some humorous scenes, particularly a fight which ends up with everyone repeatedly falling into Michael's grave and another where Tammy and Byron are going through options in the morgue to see what would be a good body to put Michael's brain in.  Much of the humor falls as flat as the gay jokes do, as the tone of the movie often switches and Raffill seemed unable to decide if he was going to go for an ultra-bloody Dead Alive style movie or just do a slapstick comedy involving an unlikely romantic pairing.  

I can't really say I liked the film even watching it as a bad movie.  It may be something better shared with friends so a group of people can just have fun staring in disbelief that something like this got made, or just providing proof (like I sometimes have to with movies I mention) that it exists.  It has a weird enough concept, and it's got two actors in the lead that went on to major careers, but in the end it is too half-baked and silly to cross the line into truly being enjoyable.

Tammy and the T-Rex (1994)
Time: 82 minutes
Starring: Denise Richards, Paul Walker, Theo Forsett, George Pilgrim, Terry Kiser
Director: Stewart Rafill 



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