Director: Stewart Raffill
Until very recently, in whatever spot in my brain that houses barely-remembered covers of VHS tapes from my college years, I had filed Tammy and the T-Rex (1994) as a children's movie. It is NOT. And I wonder how many parents put this on for their kids without realizing what it is.
I've seen it, and I can't tell you what it is.
Apparently the copy going around that I saw on Shudder is the original cut of the movie, which may have been seen in Italy. The American version was cut down to PG-13, but this version is definitely an R for gratuitous gore. This version's titles also insist this is "Tanny and the T-Rex". I don't know if the word "Tammy" in Italian means something else or just sounded strange. Or was a type-o. I'd believe anything, because no one in this movie is trying. It's not the kind of movie where people did try.
I am proud to say I called it about 20 minutes into the movie when I said to Jamie "it seems like the entire reason this movie exists is that someone had access to an animatronic dinosaur", and according to IMBD, that's exactly true. Someone had an animatronic dinosaur and came to the director with it wanting to make a movie in under a month. So, how they found writer/ director Stewart Raffill, who did 2-3 good movies before he did Mac and Me in 1988, followed by Mannequin II: On the Move, and this is actually somehow still a step or three down - I have no idea. But, like Mannequin II, this movie includes a funny, gay Black man in extravagant outfits. Raffill must have really liked that bit.
The basic gist of the movie is that a mad scientist wants to put a human brain in a robot dinosaur because profit. Tammy is trying to date a guy who isn't a psychopath, but her psychopath ex decides he wants to murder new boyfriend. He grabs new boyfriend and drops him in a big-cat sanctuary and winds up dead. The mads get the brain, install in dino. Dino seeks revenge.
In other hands, this would have been about, like, a beloved dead relative whose ghost inhabits a robot dinosaur and some kids would go on an adventure. It absolutely looks like that movie, but for looking and feeling like a kid's movie that isn't trying, instead, it's surprisingly horny, violent and gory. And somehow includes large cats who they loose on the talent in what are not trick shots.
Speaking of - this is a pre-stardom Denise Richards - who they exploit just shamelessly. Also, a pre-stardom Paul Walker as the kid who Richards loves who dies and, as Jamie says "they RoboCop that bitch" (she'd been enjoying some wine), shoving his brain into the dinosaur. A very young Sean Whalen plays a toadie named "Weasel".
The mad scientist is played by Terry "Bernie" Kiser of Weekend at Bernie's. His sidekick/ girlfriend is played by Ellen Dubin.
I... man, I can't explain this movie. It's weirdly very, very good at being very bad. It's not trying to emulate a schlocky cult movie, it just succeeds at not trying on almost every level. "What's the dumbest shit we could do here?" seems to be the overriding question, and in every situation, they did, indeed, find the dumbest shit they could do. So you can't say they aren't self-aware, which should be annoying, but the movie is almost daring you to watch it in every scene - like "man, this is on you. It's called Tammy and the T-Rex. No one made you watch this. So watch this dumb shit we absolutely shouldn't be doing."
Anyway, I kinda have to recommend Tammy and the T-Rex. It's an extraordinarily stupid film.