There’s something that’s so enjoyable about a good b-movie, maybe it’s because the filmmakers had more passion than other resources, but they weren’t going let that get in the way of their story. It is that enthusiasm that can lead to both loving acclaim and respectful jabbing way down the line. In 1994, veteran Macguyver-esque filmmaker, Stewart Raffill, was given two days, a barn, and a dinosaur and managed to turn them into a colourful b-movie homage, that film was Tammy and the T-Rex.
Young cheerleader Tammy is trying to move on with her life, but her expelled evil ex is causing her and her boyfriend problems. This reaches a deadly end when Tammy’s ex chases her boyfriend into the path of a carnivorous Lion. When a crazed scientist, Gunther, looking for a brain for his animatronic, ultra-powerful, T-Rex sees the new cadaver rushed into hospital he’s quick to act and before long Michael is given a second chance. The now Dino-boyfriend isn’t going to let anybody get in the way of a happy relationship with Tammy, no matter what the town thinks.
Despite the film’s look as a straight horror/sci-fi flick of the B variety. Tammy and the T-rex quickly shows off its comedy feathers display a self-awareness that few of its lower budget contemporaries actively possess. The film has a very on-the-nose theme song and characters that feel larger than life. Tammy can sometimes be a little ditzy, especially in one scene where she has to effectively play charades with her now dinosaured beau. It’s like the film knows the depths of its silliness, and fully embraces it.
The cast is a good selection of stars before their biggest moments, you’ve got a young Paul Walker playing Michael, the handsome football star, turned prehistoric killing machine. Unfortunately, he doesn’t voice the T-Rex, but we couldn’t have everything. The titular Tammy is played by Denise Richards in one her earliest film debuts, she fills the cheerleader role as well as you would expect and seems to be having a blast with the role. It’s not just the two of them. A lot of the comic heavy lifting is done by Theo Forsett playing her gay best friend, Byron. Even the scientists also feel fun, with head scientist, Gunther, himself feeling like a good cross between Peter McNichol and Christopher Lloyd.
Tammy and the T-Rex is a surprisingly competent B-Movie, that makes up for its lower budget with laughs and spectacle. It’s a quirky homage to 50s pulp science fiction, with flourishes from the early 90s. It takes you by surprise just how well it manages to merge sci-fi, horror, with comedy, and while being slightly longer than an hour. With some good early performances by your favourites, Tammy and the T-Rex is a treasure and it doesn’t deserve to be confined to pre-history.
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