Eye For Film >> Movies >> Tammy And The T-Rex (1994) Film Review
Tammy And The T-Rex
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Boy meets girl. Boy meets lions. Lions damage boy. Boy’s brain is transplanted into giant animatronic dinosaur. Dinosaur meets girl.
The course of true love never did run smooth.
There are many B-movies out there that get a lot of hype but fail to live up to their promise. Tammy And The T-Rex may not be the greatest work of art but it really delivers on its promise, justifying the cult following it has acquired over the past 26 years. the secret is that nothing here is slapdash. It’s cheap and cheesy, yes, but lovingly assembled, and it has an inner sense of conviction that carries it a long way.
The boy on whom the story focuses is Michael (played, in human form, by Paul Walker, some years before his Fast And Furious days), whose passion for cheerleader Tammy (Denise Richards) is well known. Unfortunately, though Tammy reciprocates his affections, she has a jealous boyfriend who won’t leave her alone even when she tries to tell him it’s over. After the boyfriend and his pals attack Michael and beat him unconscious, they leave him in the local safari park for the aforementioned lions to finish off. Though he survives, he’s comatose when found in the hospital by the local mad scientist, and faking his death is easy, making it a simple matter for the aforementioned scientist and his dominatrix girlfriend to steal his brain. It just so happens that they’ve been looking for a brain with which to experiment on the fist of a new line of cyborg life forms. Why they lighted on a T-rex is not quite so clear, but from a filmmaker’s perspective it’s perfect. Not only is it big and mean but because it’s supposed to be animatronic it doesn’t even have to look that good. (Ironically, it looks better than most other movie dinosaurs of the era.)
After making a feeble attempt to understand his circumstances and recover his own body – as well as phoning Tammy and discovering that his only form of speech is a roar – Michael, understandably, goes looking for revenge on the boys who hurt him. This is teenage angst bullshit with a serious body count. But a dinosaur can’t live on revenge alone. Only one thing keeps him going: he has to get back to Tammy and win her love again.
Tightly paced and styled after the manner of a 1940s creature feature, this is a film peppered with bad jokes and innuendo yet played absolutely straight between its two leads. Richards nicely balances the apple-pie sweet homecoming queen act with the kind of scantily-clad naughtiness that saw the ruin of many a VHS tape back in the day, and the script is designed not to test her limits as an actress. Walker presents us with a likeable hero and the dinosaur puppetry is well handled so that we can accept the idea that his consciousness has been transferred, even if – let’s face it – we’re more invested in seeing him stomp on people and rip them apart with his sharp fibreglass teeth. Support comes in the form of Theo Forsett as their gay best friend Byron, mining all the clichés of that particular role but also getting some story arc of his own as the son of the local sheriff (and, in the absence of anyone more qualified, default dinosaur-wrangler).
Terry Kiser has fun hamming it up as the evil genius behind the transformation, but director Stewart Raffill is careful not to let any of his human stars overshadow the others. The film belongs, naturally, to the dinosaur and the audience fantasy it represents. If you were bullied at school and imagined that life would be easier if only you could turn into a giant monster and crush your foes, this is your chance to see it on the big screen. And maybe even find love in the process.Reviewed on: 29 Feb 2020