Tammy And The T-Rex is a tale as old as prehistoric time. Boy meets girl. Girl falls in love with boy. Girl’s punk ex-boyfriend kidnaps her new crush and leaves him to be mauled by lions in a wildlife park. Wounded boy is stolen by a crazed genius, has his brain removed, then implanted into an animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex. Boy, now a Jurassic Park prop, goes on a deadly rampage in order to win back his lover and reclaim a new body. Shakespear meets Mary Shelley meets 90s slapstick comedy.
Stewart Raffill, what have you done.
To provide a little background, Tammy And The T-Rex has only existed as a PG-13 rom-com until now. Vinegar Syndrome restored Raffill’s gonzo date-night amalgamation for a 4K home release, but also discovered that Raffill cut an R-rated version filled with gore by effects guru John Carl Buechler. All those off-screen deaths are now delicious sights to behold, from decapitations to guttings complete with inards spilled everywhere. In the movie about a girl who’s sexually attracted to a rubberized dinosaur.
We’ve got another Demon Wind scenario on our hands, readers. This is not a drill. I repeat. Tammy And The T-Rex might just be your new midnight movie obsession.
Off the bat, let me confirm that Raffill’s sense of humor did not age incredibly well when it comes to homophobic satire or racial commentaries. You can make the case it was 1994, but as my audience mumbled “Oooof” more than once, expect to do the same. Subtlety is not Raffill’s forte, which mostly translates into oversexualized zaniness and hamfisted romantic beats that are only ever of the most audacious variety (because, well, they’re between a woman and fake T-Rex). That said, the few moments that bomb (“F” word usage included) are a byproduct of the times that I don’t exactly love. Just a fair disclaimer/warning.
Oh, did I mention Tammy and The T-Rex stars cheerleader-peppy Denise Richards as Tammy and baby-face Paul Walker as Michael aka the T-Rex?
My Demon Wind comparison brings with it intrigue because while the former smashup of Evil Dead and The Fog, I believe, was made with intentions of serious horror creation, Raffill’s tone suggests he always knew the jokester his movie would become. The story behind Tammy And The T-Rex confirms as much, detailing how Raffill only had a few days with the “lifelike” mechanical dinosaur while a friend was keeping it or moving it (details not required). Raffill concocted this gonzo Frankenstein ripoff with claws and teeth on a whim and executed his craft with even less time to do so, which causes some choppy edits and astonishingly incompetent line readings – arguably the film’s unexpected charm.
Richards’ work with a dinosaur monstrosity that can only roar is next-level cheeseball. She’s tuned into 90s energetics and happily overselling the normalcy of her body-swap “nightmare.” It’s not her best work, nor anyone one in the cast, detailed by an after-dark phone conversation between Tammy and still-human Michael that sells teenage awkwardness based on performative laughability. Granted, Richards is truly giving the concept more effort than it deserves as she channels all the makings of a Hallmark story if it were produced by Roger Corman. See Denise Richards like you’ve never seen her before: helping her Tyrannosaurus boyfriend select a new human body by modeling corpses in a mourge through the room’s window.
Enter Terry Kiser as the villainous Dr. Wachenstein and Ellen Dubin as his sexpot assistant Helga (who may or may not have been a pornstar, suggested by thinly veiled dialogue). Dr. Wachenstein plays like a Zucker brothers character but completely serious, as he celebrates success with Helga by honking her breasts. Their entire schtick is operating in plain sight, exuding incredibly horniness, and chopping up innocents on a quest to immortality (prevention against mortal decay). In a movie so self-aware and unflinching, nothing gets better than Wachenstein strolling onto a crime scene and convincing local yokel cops of the most ludicrous explanations. You’d expect to find these expanded stereotypes in an SNL skit, not an actual feature film.
Praise be Buechler’s practical effects, which range from a T-Rex ripping heads off torsos to henchmen flattened like pancakes. It’s always fun and particularly gruesome, if not as frequent as I might’ve liked. Note that Raffill’s intentions are to sell comedy first, which he does through Tammy, Dr. Wachenstein, sassy best friend Byron (Theo Forsett) and others who interact with the gigantic Rex. Deaths are inserted for emphasis. Billy (George Pilgrim) and his bully gang are mauled, shredded, and chewed up by Michael’s fangs, jumping tonality from midnighter horror straight into visual gags or Lifetime-grade relationship dramatics. It’s a lot to take in, which makes for gasps and howls of joy as audiences attempt to piece together how in the sweet merciful heck this movie got made.
You’re watching Tammy and The T-Rex with a room full of friends, additional substances to ease out forthcoming giggles, and hunger for “so bad it’s good” cinema on an inconceivable level. You’re staying for an off-camera crew member who’s wearing prosthetic T-Rex arms and operating a payphone or caressing Denise Richards’ hair. You’re here for operating table boner gags, gore-nasty decapitations, and Denise Richards playing charades with her boyfriend who’s newly transplanted into a rubber monster. Vinegar Syndrome’s colorful cover dashed with blood sells precisely the incomprehensible cinematic adventure Stewart Raffill reanimates; a film that never tries to be anything but “creative,” stupid fun. Demon Wind, you’ll always be my frist “90s Insane-O Cult Worship” love – but Tammy and The T-Rex, there’s room enough in my heart for you too.
/Film Rating: How can you even rate this? Just have a good time, y’all.
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