Tammy, the T-Rex, and the Question of What Is a Bad Movie

You probably never saw Tammy and the T-Rex. The 1994 film stars an infant Denise Richards and a fetal Paul Walker as high school star-crossed sweethearts; he loves her, she loves him, but her psychotic ex-boyfriend refuses to let anyone get close to her. The ex beats up Paul Walker and dumps him in a wild animal park, where he gets mauled by a lion. While recovering in the hospital, Walker catches the eye of a mad scientist who has a scheme to achieve immortality by putting human brains in robots. His test case, of course: a giant animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex. Poor Paul Walker gets his brain cut out and put into the T-Rex and from there things get even weirder.

If you did see Tammy and the T-Rex you likely saw the PG-13 version, but director Stewart Rafill (of the classic The Ice Pirates) actually shot a hard R movie, which was unseen by American audiences until recently. It has been playing fests and midnight screenings, and it played in Los Angeles at Beyond Fest last night. Having heard much buzz about this super gory version of what was released as a twee PG-13 teen comedy, I had to go check it out. 

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TWISTED PAIR Trailer – The Latest From Auteur Neil Breen

I reject the idea that movies can be so bad they’re good. Are there pleasures to be found in movies that are rough around the edges, made by inexperienced craftspeople, devoid of the kind of slickness we take for granted in the big films? Of course. There is a magic in a movie that is just a little bit handmade, that is filled with imperfections… but also personality. These films aren’t so bad they’re good, they’re just good on their own terms, and they’re charming as hell.

It’s the difference between a piece of art that is mass produced and a piece of art that is hand-crafted and that you buy on the side of the road. The technique may be primitive, the artist may not have the hours of experience, the materials may even be technically subpar, but the art is free of artifice, and you’re getting closer to the experience and understanding of another human being.

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