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Monday, May 18, 2020

Tammy and the T-Rex (1994)




This hobby of collecting and watching movies can be a strange one. Every once in a while, now more infrequently than say ten or fifteen years ago, you hear of a hidden gem. A movie that never got a proper DVD release or perhaps has had some lost footage restored after it was rediscovered in someone’s basement. An excellent example of this is the original My Bloody Valentine that had its lost gore added back in years after release.

Not too long ago rumors of this movie started circulating. Not only did it seem like an oddball WTF concept starring Terri “Weekend at Bernie’s” Kiser as a mad scientist but it also had early featured roles for Denise Richards and Paul Walker. The names alone should have caused this to have hit shelves a long time ago, but it didn’t happen. Add in that there was additional gore available to be reinserted into the movie and that it was done by fan favorite John Carl Buechler makes it mind boggling that someone hadn’t taken the time to give Tammy and the T-Rex a proper release. That has been rectified now thanks to the fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome we fans finally get our hands on it. What were we missing? Let’s take a look and see.

Tammy is a pretty cheerleader who was set up with a bully named Billy at some point in the past. He is a possessive and violent leader of a gang who doesn’t take kindly to good guy football hero Michael asking Tammy out. We get a fight that ends with a bit of dick grabbing (really… not kidding) that itself escalates to the gang beating on and then leaving Michael in an animal park to get attacked by a lion. He ends up in a coma… then isn’t… then is knocked out by Dr. Wachenstein’s assistant so they can transfer his brain into a robotic T-Rex. He wakes up, breaks out and goes on a revenge spree for a few minutes. Billy and his gang get what is coming to them and then we have an extended chase sequence as Wachenstein tries to recover his creation. Stuff happens and then we get to the end.

Robotic Dinosaur Romance
Tammy and the T-Rex is one of those movies that has a lot of moving parts that alone seem pretty good, but when added together just don’t work. They assembled an excellent young cast but waste them by not giving them anything to do. Richards is reduced to playing an airhead that does nothing other than profess her love for Michael and screech at Billy to leave her alone. The movie also wastes Terri Kiser by not giving him much screen time and when they do there isn’t much to his character.  Match this up with a story that is trying to be funny but fails to stick the landing on any of the jokes and you end up with a mediocre effort that while not terrible feels very uninspired.

Who is up for some brain surgery?
Another of the selling points was the gore and special effects. First you should be aware that the T-Rex is basically one of those animatronic creations that occasionally tours the country bringing dinosaurs “back to life” for the kiddos to enjoy. You can even hear the hydraulics running in some scenes. They pair this up with a crew member wearing rubber gloves who manipulates things like a pay phone. Yes, the dinosaur makes a phone call to Tammy. This is a very silly effect that pairs up well with the cartoonish violence. We get heads ripped off, another person smashed flat, brain surgery complete with manipulation of the person’s “appendages”, and that sort of mayhem. None of it is particularly gruesome or realistic and is all played for laughs. I’ve never seen Tammy and the T-Rex before but can’t imagine what “explicit” gore was removed and how that would change the movie or it’s rating all that much.

In the end I just don’t get it. This isn’t a terrible movie, but it isn’t very good either. Gore or no gore this is a harmless and dumb attempt at comedy starring a couple young and soon to be famous faces. Best viewed as an oddity rather than a cult classic there isn’t much meat on the bone with Tammy and the T-Rex. I can see why this one was ignored for so long. If people weren’t so desperate for that next big thing, I don’t think we would have this much hype surrounding its release. This is a rental at best as I can’t see anyone needing to watch this multiple times.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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