There are times a person describes to you a movie and you scratch your head pondering if this can really be a film. Maybe your pal fell asleep and had a fever dream until the lights came up during the credits. There’s no way this was really a film. Which naturally leads to the prompt response of “Are you kidding me?” followed immediately with “how do I see this?” Such should be your natural reaction when you discover there is a movie called Tammy And The T-Rex from 1994 which is far from the usual boy meet girl story. 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. Even more important is that this bizarre indie film featured the early work of two stars that would become huge names on the silver screen. Tammy And The T-Rex became legendary thank to USA’s Up All Night. And now it’s been upgraded to 4K-UHD to bring the ultimate high school dinosaur robot revenge movie into the 21st Century.
Tammy (Wild Things‘ Denise Richards) is a high school cheerleader who has just started dating football star Michael (The Fast and the Furious‘s Paul Walker). The trouble is her old boyfriend punker Billy (Timemaster‘s George Pilgrim). He ain’t done with her and even though he has restraining order to keep him off the campus, he shows up and fights Michael. She doesn’t want Billy back. Across town in a warehouse, a mechanical dinosaur robot is put through its tests. The backers love what they have except because it requires so much computer power, the robot can’t move around and behave like a real live dinosaur. Mad scientist Dr. Wachenstein (Weekend At Bernie‘s Terry Kiser) puts his mind to the problem and figures out they need a fresh brain as the robot dinosaur’s CPU. But where will they get one? Turns out Tammy invites Michael to sneak into her bedroom and the jealous Billy ruins the young love scene. He and his goons beat up Michael and drag him out into the night. Instead of killing his rival, he drops him off at a nature park and let a lion finish his dirty work. This leads to Dr. Wachenstein’s stealing Michael’s body from the hospital and performing the first human brain transplant into a robot T-Rex. In his new body, Michael goes after revenge on Billy and his gang.
Tammy And The T-Rex is brilliant weirdness. The title seems to make no sense. How does a girl hook up with a T-Rex? But then when you find out that the dinosaur is a robot, it all makes sense. Well sense enough that you can’t just sit back and watch the strangest high school movie in the ’90s that involves a robot dinosaur. The cast brings a lot to the spoof sense of the action. Denise Richards was about to hit pay dirt with Starship Troopers that would lead to her Bond Girl turn in The World Is Not Enough. Paul Walker would be on the path to fame after overcoming the stigma of Meet The Deedles. Of course he would later have tragedy in the middle of making all those Fast and Furious blockbusters. Theo Forsett deserves more notice as Tammy’s gay friend who is the sheriff’s son. He’s keeps up the comic action. He recently appeared on an episode of The Rookie.
What’s extra important is that the version of Tammy And The T-Rex on this Vinegar Syndrome transfer is the 90 minute R-rated cut and not the 82 minute PG-13 variation that ended up on VHS. The producers snipped out a bunch of gory moments in order to sell this as a kid film. The cut makes the film far superior to any of the Jurassic Park films. Tammy And The T-Rex is as weird as the title.
The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 4K UHD transfer perhaps makes this film look better than anyone ever got to see it. The transfer is from the original 35mm camera negative. You get a sense of the youth in Paul Walker and the wrinkles on the T-Rex. The audio is 4K Dolby Vision HDR. The film sounds fine for a low budget feature. The Blu-ray is DTS-HD Stereo. The movie is subtitled.
Blu-ray has the movie and most of the bonus features.
Audio commentary with director Stewart Raffill and producer Diane Kirman has the husband and wife filmmaking team talk about the production. They point out the giant fire that ended up in the background of the film.
Blood, Brains and a Teenage T-Rex (22:12) is an interview with director Stewart Raffill. He recounts his career of coming from England to Hollywood when his jockey dreams died. He made Mac and Me, featured on the latest episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. He explains how access to the mechanical dinosaur for a few weeks turned into a Corman-esque production.
A Blast from the Past (11:31) is an interview with actress Denise Richards. She talks about the excitement of landing her first movie gig. She talks of how she approached crying next to a giant mechanical dinosaur. She remembers working with Paul Walker.
Having the Guts (12:12) sits down with actor Sean Whalen. He speaks of how being in the Aaron Burr/Hamilton milk commercial changed his career. Whalen has had a long career and did Twister and Waterworld around this time. He jokes about how low budget Tammy And The T-Rex was. He loved Mac And Me so he wanted to work with the director. Whalen talks about the scene where the T-Rex rips out his guts. Here’s Whalen’s milk ad:
A Testicular Stand-Off (25:07) meets up with actor George Pilgrim. He speaks of how the film was weird to him on the first script read. He had a superstition about playing a character that gets eaten. He was also worried about the fight scene where him and Paul Walker grab each others’ junk.
Full length PG-13 cut of Tammy and the T-Rex (82:36) is sourced from video. It’s like watching that VHS version you rented from Phar-Mor. This will give you an appreciation for the new transfer. This feature is only on the Blu-ray.
Vinegar Syndrome presents Tammy And The T-Rex. Directed by: Stewart Raffill. Screenplay by: Stewart Raffill and Gary Brockette. Starring: Denise Richards, Paul Walker, Terry Kiser, George ‘Buck’ Flower, John F. Goff, Sean Whalen, Efren Ramirez. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 90 minutes. Released: January 28, 2020.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.