Tammy and the T-Rex (1994) was a film I had never heard of despite it being released 16 years ago. That was until Vinegar Syndrome released the gore cut in 2019, and it seemed to be all my fellow horror fiends on Twitter were talking about.
Screened as part of the Future Cult strand of Glasgow Film Festival 2020, this dinosaur-packed oddity was directed by Stewart Raffill. When it was first released in 1994, all of the gore, blood, and violence was cut out to provide a more family-friendly slice of straight-to-video action. While I’d be incredibly interested to view the watered-down cut and see how the story progresses without the violence, the gore cut is definitely something to behold!
Tammy (Denise Richards) and her boyfriend Michael (Paul Walker) are very much in love but are sadly under a constant threat from Tammy’s ex-boyfriend, Billy (George Pilgrim), and his gang. Billy and his awful pals even break into Tammy’s house one night when Michael is visiting her, chasing him through the town, kidnapping him, and abandoning him in a local wild animal park. As you do. Not surprisingly, Michael is mauled by a bunch of wild cats and left for dead.
Elsewhere in town, Dr Wachenstein (Terry Kiser) has a very impressive animatronic t-rex, and for some reason, is keen to gift the dinosaur with a human brain, and therefore consciousness. Again…as you do. Dr Wachenstein hears about Michael’s accident, and after convincing Tammy that Michael has died, he steals his body and successfully implants his brain into the robot t-rex. However, while Dr Wachenstein was keen for the t-rex to have a mind of its own, he clearly didn’t count on it retaining Michael’s mind, as t-rex Michael immediately begins to take her revenge on those who have wronged him and tries to make his way back to Tammy.
Let me just say that this film is an absolutely wild ride. In perhaps one of the weirdest iterations of a Frankenstein (1818) cum Beauty and the Beast (1740) story, we’re expected to root for this vengeful robot dinosaur as he tries to remain in a stable relationship with his girlfriend. And maybe the strangest thing of all is that we do! As an audience we want Michael and Tammy to make it through all these problems, get back together, and be happy! The film does such a good job of making Billy and his friend the most repulsive group of people ever, that we’re more than happy to see them all torn to pieces by t-rex Michael.
I’ll give Paul Walker and especially Denise Richards their dues for acting their butts off and making their characters quite believable in an entirely unbelievable situation. As much as Tammy and the T-Rex has the makings of a ‘so bad it’s good’ cult classic, no one feels like they are phoning it in or not giving it their all. Denise Richards is her usual mix of fabulous ’90s hair and eyebrows and making me believe her love for this t-rex entirely at the same time.
Aside from the pretty impressive robot t-rex, the rest of the practical effects are also amazingly good. They do not spare on the blood, guts, and gore that would be involved if a t-rex with murderous intent was let loose, and the practical effects make the whole thing more fun. Particular highlights are people holding onto handfuls of their guts as they spill from their stomach or men being squished so flat that they look like Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) after his run-in with the steamroller.
I’m not sure why someone looked at this gore-tastic piece of early ’90s cinema and decided it would be better with all the violence stripped out. All they did was deny the world the type of film that I would have loved growing up. It’s the perfect school sleepover movie if I’m honest, but I’m glad I finally got to experience it, even if I did have to wait until my thirties to do it.