GORE IN THE STORE
TAMMY AND THE T-REX ****
Directed by Stewart Raffill.
Starring Denise Richards, Theo Forsett, Paul Walker, Terry Kiser, Ken Carpenter, Sean Whalen, George 'Buck' Flower, John Franklin.
Horror/Comedy, USA, 90 mins, cert 15.
Released in the UK on Limited Edition Blu-ray by 101 Films Monday February 8th, 2021.
With its brightly coloured poster art and children’s TV title you could be forgiven that TAMMY AND THE T-REX was a nice gentle adventure for all the family, and if you were watching it when it originally came out in 1994 then that is the version of the film you probably saw. However, this Blu-ray release from 101 Films is a restored version of the thought lost 'Gore Cut' of the movie and, as such, is a total hoot, especially if you do happen to put it in your Blu-ray player to entertain the kiddies.
Primarily, the reason TAMMY AND THE T-REX exists is because somebody had a spare dinosaur prop laying around and offered it to the producers (no doubt after Steven Spielberg had first refusal). So doing what any screenwriter would do when offered an animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stewart Raffill (writer of PASSENGER 57, a movie where a convicted aeroplane hijacker is transported between prisons via aeroplane, which should give you a clue as to where we’re heading) wrote a script where a murdered teenage boy’s brain is transplanted into an animatronic T-Rex because mad scientist Doctor Wachenstein (Terry Kiser – FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES) wants to and because he can.
Not only that but when the titular Tammy (Denise Richards – STARSHIP TROOPERS) finds out what has happened to her former boyfriend Michael (Paul Walker – THE FAST & THE FURIOUS) she a) doesn’t really question it and b) has to try and find Michael a new body for his brain to again be transplanted into. Naturally, a mechanical dinosaur walking around attracts attention and so not only is Doctor Wachenstein in pursuit to try and rescue his creation but the local cops are also on the case. Cue lots of hilarity and, for once, a Gore Cut that actually delivers on the gooey stuff.
With a cast of familiar genre faces including Sean Whalen (THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS), Ken Carpenter (HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH) and John Franklin (CHILDREN OF THE CORN), TAMMY AND THE T-REX is genuinely funny - most of it intentionally so but not all – thanks to certain cast members taking it all very seriously and others knowing exactly what they are doing. Being one of her first roles Denise Richards plays it fairly straight and acting like she is trying not to upset anybody – she does allude to this in the special features where she says she was terrified of being fired – but she does have a endearing likeability that unfortunately didn't translate over to playing a scientist who assists James Bond in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH a few years later.
But it is Terry Kiser, George ‘Buck’ Flower and Ken Carpenter who provide most of the laughs, all three actors pitching their performances perfectly to elevate some of the cheesier jokes and making the absurd story more palatable, although the OTT gore also helps as heads get bitten off, guts get pulled out (or handed to the actors off-screen, as Sean Whalen recalls in his interview) and headless bodies run amok to great effect. The PG-13 version is included on the disc if you want to compare but given that the deaths are all cut out and you’re left with a delightfully odd tale about lovesick teenagers who can’t be together because one of them is an animatronic dinosaur, chances are you'll want to stick with the more violent horror version.
So you get both versions of the movie, interviews with Denise Richards, Sean Whalen, Stewart Raffill, actor George Pilgrim and an audio commentary with Stewart Raffill and producer Diane Kirman, as well as the original title card of TANNY AND THE TEENAGE T-REX. Alright, that last one isn't an extra as it does appear in the film – the graphics department apparently not having a good day and nobody thought to correct it, which is something you might notice from other departments throughout the film (drinking game – take a shot when a crew member is visible).
Nevertheless, this bizarre hybrid of WEIRD SCIENCE and Frank Henenlotter’s FRANKENHOOKER is as pleasing to watch as any splatter movie that favours entertainment over technical prowess or logic. The 4K restoration is as bright and colourful as the Blu-ray cover promises and there are worse ways to spend 90 minutes than watching a fibreglass dinosaur with a human brain taking bloody revenge on those who wronged him whilst lamenting that he can't sleep with Denise Richards. Yes, it’s daft but it is also highly amusing and the sort of movie that crowded midnight screenings were invented for.