Tammy and the T-Rex is one of those movies that you, a movie-renter in 1993, would see at your local Blockbuster, take one look at the box art, and immediately rent it because you knew it was going to be absolutely horrendous.
Originally released as a romantic comedy, it revolves around Tammy, who would do anything to save her boyfriend Michael when his brain is transplanted into the body of a robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex by a mad scientist.
Hilarious antics run rampant in this outing from director Stewart Raffill, the man behind 1988’s Mac & Me.
Tammy and the T-Rex isn't even its original title. It only ended up that way when the opticals team misprinted it as Tanny (yes, Tanny) and the Teenage T-Rex.
Produced almost entirely because a guy approached the filmmakers offering up his robotic T-Rex as a prop, it’s a movie of opportunity rather than of passion – but given it has been released as both a kids’ movie and a horror film, it’s surprisingly consistent and entertaining.
This is one of those times when you scratch your head pondering if this can really be a real film. It’s the kind of outrageous cinema that rarely shows up on movie screens that are dominated by flicks that merely safely exploit intellectual property for corporations.
Worth noting, is that this bizarre indie film features the early work of two stars that would become huge names on the silver screen – Denise Richards and the late, Paul Walker.
The film became legendary thanks to USA’s Up All Night television show. Luckily for all of us, the film has been given a spectacular new gory cut thanks to Vinegar Syndrome, a home video company specializing in the re-releases of films just like this.
In the film, Tammy – portrayed by Denise Richards – is a high school cheerleader who has just started dating the local football star Michael, played by the late Paul Walker.
But Tammy’s ex-boyfriend, Billy, won’t take no for answer and despite having a restraining order against him, shows up at school one day and challenges Michael to a fight.
And things go downhill from there.
Meanwhile, across town in a warehouse, a mechanical dinosaur robot is put through its tests.
The diabolical backers behind the project love what they have, except for the fact it requires so much computer power that the robot can’t move around and behave like a “real live” dinosaur.
Mad scientist Dr. Wachenstein, hilariously portrayed by Terry Kiser, figures out they need a fresh brain as the robot dinosaur’s CPU. But where will they get one?
A late-night rendezvous between Tammy and Michael just starts to heat up when Billy shows up unexpectedly and ruins the moment.
With his goons in tow, Billy attacks Michael and they drag him out into the night. But instead of killing his rival outright, he drops him off at a nature park and decides to let a lion finish his dirty work.
But it’s Dr. Wachenstein who saves the day and steals Michael’s body from the local hospital and performs the first human brain transplant into a robot T-Rex.
With a new, terrifying body to work with, Michael (or, I suppose, Michael’s brain) decides to get some revenge.
Yes, Tammy and the T-Rex is a movie in which a barely-mobile robotic T-Rex massacres people. It’s also a movie whose protagonist is successfully wooed to tears by that same T-Rex, as it gestures in crude charades in an attempt to communicate.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the new “Gore Cut” release ends with one of the most jaw-droppingly, ill-advised romance scenes in the history of cinema.
One critic said the ending alone “sent what was already one of the craziest movies ever made to new levels of insanity.”
Sounds like a perfect movie to watch with your special someone this Valentine’s Day, huh? It really is. If there’s one movie that you watch with a significant other this month, then make it Tammy and the T-Rex.
In fact, I’ll be hosting this masterpiece on Valentine’s Day at Lee’s Coffee and Tea in downtown Laurel. For more information, visit the Lee’s Coffee and Tea Facebook page or hit me up on Instagram.
I hope to see you lovebirds there.
Tim Bynum is a Jones County native who lives in Laurel with his wife, Lauren. An avid film fan since 1985, follow him on Instagram and Facebook at: @the_filmsnob