Tammy and the T-Rex (1994)

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If there’s one thing we can learn from Tammy and the T-Rex, it’s that love is at its strongest in the face of adversity. This film tells the incredibly useless story of Michael (played by Paul Walker, RIP), a young man who has his brain transplanted into a robotic dinosaur’s body, and his attempt to reconcile with his girlfriend.

But wait – the titular Tammy (Denise Richards) isn’t even Michael’s girlfriend! In the opening moments of the story, Michael greets Tammy after cheerleading practice with a smile and a kiss. She accepts the kiss but minutes later, as they walk across the high school campus, she rejects a flower he tries to give to her. They can’t be together, she says, because of her possessive ex-boyfriend Billy (George Pilgrim). So why not tell Michael that sooner, before kissing him? Was she leading him on? Teenage relationships are complicated, I suppose.

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She was probably just embarrassed to walk with him while we wore that shirt.

Just as Tammy mentions her ex, Billy, he just happens to be walking by and begins screaming territorial cliches at Michael about how the girl belongs to him. Michael and Billy instantly throw down and somehow, the police show up a minute later to break them up. Who called 911? Is the police station right next door? How the hell did they get there so fast? Now the two cops who show up are the bumbling-idiot-comic-relief types that don’t really exist in real life. Rather than breaking up the fight, the officers provide a running commentary of the scuffle, noting that Michael and Billy have entered into a ‘testicular standoff.’ This is how Tammy and the T-Rex tells jokes. The two young men have chosen to prove their heterosexual masculinity to Tammy, in their fight over her, by gripping at each other’s balls simultaneously to see who can hold on the longest.

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Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Meanwhile, in a laboratory somewhere, a mad scientist known only as Dr. Wachenstein (Terry Kiser) falls in love with the giant robotic dinosaur that he’s created. The T-Rex can lift really heavy barbell weights, and needs a human brain for some reason. Context? None.

TatTR6It looks so real.

After school that night, Tammy encourages Michael to sneak over to her place. He climbs through her bedroom window to avoid being seen by her parents, and they profess their love for each other. The movie has evidently forgotten that they broke up in the last scene.

Moments later, Tammy is attacked by her ex-boyfriend. Billy knew Michael was there because he had other students stalking staking out Tammy’s house, for some reason. He breaks in and kidnaps Michael, stuffing him in a trunk and drives out to a local wildlife park. He beats on Michael before leaving him to be mauled by lions. Are you following this? So the lions attack him, but they don’t eat him. Michael winds up in a coma in the hospital with no visible scars.

Dr. Wachenstein visits the hospital around this time, smoking a cigarette inside a medical ward. Posing as a doctor, he examines the comatose Michael, who will suit his experiment’s needs perfectly. He fakes Michael’s death in front of Tammy and her friend, Byron (Theo Forsettin), in order to take his body for his own purposes. Dr. Wachenstein’s objective in the film finally begins to make sense when he gets Michael’s body to his lab. The goal of his research is to create eternal life by attaching a human brain to a robot body. Somehow, the brain will sustain itself inside the robot, and the human can live forever. The robot will never break down. For some reason, they decide a giant T-Rex is the best ‘robot body’ to test this new technology on. Of all the possibilities, why a dinosaur? Hope nothing goes wrong here.

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Once he extracts the brain, he submerges it in a green bubbling liquid. That should keep him alive.

So the first act of the film is a little bit of a mess. All that set-up to get Paul Walker in the dinosaur suit seems so extraneous. The unnecessary break up with Tammy. The lion attack. Those lions pounce on the guy, but he’s unharmed somehow? The filmmakers could have come up with anything to get Michael into a coma, but a lion attack is what they went with? It’s also not clear where the brain is housed once the T-Rex is made. Dr. Wachenstein tests the brain outside of the robotic body, and we never see him physically insert the brain into the robot. Does the brain stay in the jar in the lab, wirelessly controlling the dinosaur body or has it been mounted somehow inside the robot?

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You look good, like a babyface.

Once Micheal wakes up, he discovers his new appearance thanks to a conveniently placed mirror laying nearby his body. Enraged, he escapes the lab and rushes to the nearest payphone. Without having to insert a quarter into the phone, his weird slinky-arms stretch far enough so he can dial Tammy’s number. Michael looks disappointed when an answering machine picks up, but what would good would the phone call do if she had picked up? He can only speak in roars anyway, and would be hung up on even if the call went through.

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His arms occasionally grow to resemble a human hand wearing some kind of glove. Huh.

Michael comes to terms with his affliction fairly quickly after this. He decides to use his new body to his advantage. He crashes a high school party and exacts revenge on Billy and his thugs by eating them all. But he’s a robot. Why does a robot need to eat people? Does he still have a digestive system?

The idiotic police officers later investigate the scene of all the murders but don’t believe witnesses who claim to have seen a dinosaur. There are no clues left behind, not even footprints, even though every step Michael takes shakes the ground. Then again, the dinosaur prop never walks anywhere on camera  – it kind of drifts along the roads. It’s shot from certain angles in attempt to hide that it’s being pulled by a truck. Maybe the robot actually runs on wheels?

With Billy out of the way, Michael the T-Rex makes his way to Tammy’s house, who faints when she sees him. She awakens to find herself in an abandoned  farmhouse with a giant robotic dinosaur. Rather than running away or making any attempt to escape, she plays charades with the dinosaur to discover her boyfriend is still alive. Overcome with jubilation, Michael and Tammy enlist Byron’s help to get Michael’s body back. The plan: to attend Michael’s funeral and swipe his corpse.

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Michael cries at his own funeral. Wait. The robot dinosaur has tear ducts?

At the funeral, no one notices the giant T-Rex hiding behind a tree a few feet away. Tammy and Byron try to steal Michael’s body, only to discover that it’s barely recognizable, rotting with rats eating away at it. It turns out the entire funeral was a trap set by the scientist; a means of getting his dinosaur experiment back. A ‘comical’ fight scene ensues as people fall in and out of the grave with the rotting corpse. Tammy and Byron escape in the end, leaving Dr. Wachenstein tied down next to a cadaver. This is how Tammy and the T-Rex tries to make jokes.

Byron and Tammy adapt their plan by going to the morgue to find another body Micheal could use. Tammy is extremely superficial in deciding on a new look for her man.

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Penis size is an important factor when selecting a new body for your boyfriend.

The police, idiots though they are, catch up with them before they can pick a corpse. After a harrowing car chase, with Michael in the back of a truck driven by Byron, they take refuge back at the barn. The police surround the place soon after. Dr. Wachenstein also arrives at the barn, having magically known where they were after somehow escaping his bindings in the cemetery. The doctor enters on his own to try to finish off Michael for good, but Michael simply eats the mad scientist, stepping out into the open to do so. The police shoot him up. Does that mean Michael is dead, again?

No. In the end, Micheal is alive and well, a brain in a jar in Tammy’s room. Somehow Michael’s brain can speak in Paul Walker’s voice. He can see through a camcorder. We’re treated to one final scene where Tammy comes home, pours booze directly on Michael’s brain, then does a strip tease for him until he has an orgasm, indicated by sparks bursting from his brain. But anytime Tammy isn’t there, all Michael can do is stare straight ahead at a wall through a camera lens. He can’t move, he can’t eat, nothing. Wouldn’t that be a terrible existence? Tammy’s found a way to keep him alive so that she can have his company when she wants it. It sounds familiar, prophetic even. Let’s see… taking advantage of a deceased Paul Walker in some way. I think there’s another movie that did this.

Throughout the film, nothing is developed about any character. Michael really only has about twenty minutes of screentime before becoming the dinosaur, and there’s nothing more to his character other than his crush on Tammy. Tammy is pretty plain and boring, and doesn’t do much either. Then there’s Byron, the token gay black character, who is way over the top and stereotypical. Billy is probably the most interesting out of everyone, with his homicidal tendencies, but he dies halfway through and we never learn where that behaviour came from.

This movie is beyond insane. The very premise isn’t justified, since human trials of such a technology would never be tested without any kind of supervision, especially not on a dangerous T-Rex model. In the film Wachenstein expresses interest in making the technology available so people can immortalize their brains as cute animals like their pets, and that might have got a bigger audience to watch this film. Cute things sell to the masses. What a wasted opportunity.


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