The 13th Floor

TAMMY AND THE T-REX: The Film That Put Paul Walker’s Brain Inside a Dinosaur

Hidden in the annals of 1990s low-budget genre cinema is a film so spectacularly stupid that it’s hard to believe that it not only exists, but that the actors ever worked again. And yet, sure enough, Denise Richards and Paul Walker went on to have very respectable careers after TAMMY AND THE T-REX put them in compromising positions like stripping for the sexual gratification of disembodied brains and plugging their grey matter into an animatronic dinosaur.

TAMMY AND THE T-REX comes from the decidedly whackadoodle mind of Stewart Raffill, a filmmaker with a handful of respectable credits (THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT, the screenplay to PASSENGER 57) and a whole lot of horrible ones. Stewart Raffill is the writer/direct of MAC & ME, ladies and gentlemen, as well as the utterly baffling teen musical STANDING OVATION in which a character originally written to the ghost of an elderly mobster was eventually recast as a pre-teen girl without any changes made to the dialogue, as if nobody would even notice.

TAMMY AND THE T-REX stars Denise Richards as Tammy, a cheerleader whose current boyfriend, Michael (Paul Walker), likes to eat roses. Unfortunately her ex-boyfriend, Billy (George Pilgrim), shows up to harass them, and soon enough Billy and Michael are fighting each other by grabbing each other’s penises as hard as possible and refusing to let go. “What we have here,” we are told, “is one of them testicular standoffs.” These things happen, I guess.

Michael sneaks into Tammy’s bedroom, but Billy finds out and invades Tammy’s house, dragging Michael into a nearby wildlife preserve and yelling non sequiturs in his face like “WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAD THE POWER TO DO ANYTHING?” as if that was somehow threatening. Within minutes Michael is mauled by a lion, so he’s taken to a nearby hospital where a mad scientist named Dr. Wachenstein (WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S star Terry Kiser) decides to steal Michael’s brain and put it in his animatronic dinosaur. Dr. Wachenstein has a porn star sidekick, a muscle guy sidekick, and a character actor John Franklin sidekick (he played Isaac in CHILDREN OF THE CORN).

Eventually Michael’s brain winds up in the animatronic T-Rex. But he escapes and tries to call Tammy on a payphone, which he’s somehow able to do. He gives up when he gets her answering machine, and of course he checks the coin return slot, just in case. Every penny counts when your brain is inside an animatronic t-rex.

The animatronic t-rex attacks a pool party and graphically murders the teen bullies who killed him, but Michael merely inconveniences the rest of the partygoers, who include Tammy’s flamboyantly gay best friend Byron, played by Theo Forsett, and “Party Girl #1,” played by future UNFORGETTABLE and WITHOUT A TRACE star Poppy Montgomery. It takes a while but he’s eventually able to challenge Tammy to a game of charades, and manages to convince her that his brain is inside the dinosaur. So Tammy and Byron break into a morgue and offer the dinosaur a variety of different corpses to choose his new body from, including female cadaver, which Michael finds pretty darned tempting.

Naturally the film culminates in a barnyard showdown between Michael and the cops, in which the T-Rex gets gunned down like T-Rex Cassidy and the Sundance Carnosaur. Thank goodness Michael’s brain is okay afterwards. Tammy now keeps him in a jar in her bedroom, where she spends her afternoon pouring expensive alcohol over his grey matter and performing erotic stripteases that cause his brain to shoot sparks out.

TAMMY AND THE T-REX is one of those movies that appears to have been made exclusively for people to discover decades later, in an era of ironic appreciation. You, the person reading this article, are the film’s target demographic. The sense of humor is too childlike to appeal to adults, but the violence and sexual humor is too perverse to be appropriate for kids. It’s obviously supposed to be silly, but it’s also so wildly incompetent that it doesn’t feel like that silliness is supposed to be ironic. There was no one who wouldn’t have been turned off by this movie in its original theatrical run.

But of course, that’s what makes TAMMY AND THE T-REX so very entertaining. It’s a crime that films like THE MIAMI CONNECTION and THE ROOM have massive cult followings now but that TAMMY AND THE T-REX doesn’t. This film would be a mind-boggling historical curiosity in a vacuum, but when you add in the fact that future FAST AND FURIOUS star Paul Walker is the one with his brain inside a dinosaur, and that Denise Richards is the one stripping for Paul Walker’s disembodied brain, you have a recipe for one of the best worst movies ever made.

TAMMY AND THE T-REX isn’t available on DVD. This film is so out of print that even VHS copies run anywhere from $110-290 on Amazon. But that just means that the time has finally come for the cult of TAMMY AND THE T-REX to rise up and demand a proper restoration via Vinegar Syndrome, Arrow Video or Scream Factory. Let them know. Make your voices heard!