I’m wandering around my character’s bedroom in High on Life and I’m so high that I’ve forgotten what I’m doing. Something about a bounty? Aliens? I dunno. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, the most incredible music drifts into my character’s room. I’m transfixed by the soulful singing about a dinosaur man. It burrows deep into my soul. What even is this?? A joke about Was (Not Was)’ late ‘80s hit “Walk the Dinosaur?” Nope! It’s the opening to the film Tammy and the T-Rex. I join the avatar of my own future, Gene, on the couch and expressionlessly stare into the living room TV, taking in this depression-eraser of a film as I wait for eternity to pass.
As it turns out, Tammy and the T-Rex, despite feeling like the kinda thing that gets made for a game like High on Life, is a very real film from 1994. Starring Denise Richards (Starship Troopers) and Paul Walker (Fast & Furious) as the lead couple, the plot follows the story of Tammy and her boyfriend Michael, who gets his brain transplanted into a monstrous, robotic T-Rex. So. Relatable. The pop culture deep cut is a perfect fit for High on Life, the very absurd comedy game from the co-creator of Rick and Morty, given its brand of humor and tendency for meta tangents and savvy references. Though I assumed at first this was a production made specifically for this game, a kind of interdimensional cable sort of joke, it turns out I was wrong. Thank god: This is a real movie. Check out the trailer for the 2019 Blu-ray re-release here (content warning: lotsa gore).
While you can get a copy of Tammy and the T-Rex on Blu-ray, it’s currently streaming on Shudder and AMC+, both of which you can subscribe to via Amazon Prime video. But with something as absurd as this film, you might wonder how it even got made.
According to the film’s director, Stewart Raffill, it happened rather spontaneously. He was often called in to piece together random films to take them over the finish line, “usually [as a] part of some tax evasion scheme.” As Raffill told Bristol Bad Film Club, “A guy came to me who owned theatres in South America and he said, ‘I have a T-Rex.’”
While I’d love to imagine Raffill winking and saying “you son of a bitch, I’m in,” it was a bit more involved. They had to piece together a story, since there wasn’t one. Just a guy with a robo T-Rex who wanted to make a movie before passing the dinosaur off to new owners. The quality of that animatronic dino would basically inform the eventual plot of the film, according to Raffill:
I said, “What’s the story?” and he said, “I don’t have a story, but we have to start filming within the month!” and so I wrote the story in a week […] You obviously couldn’t play it as an actual monster, because it wasn’t that good of an animatronic beast and I had to work with what was available, so that was the concept I came up with.
God, I love such artistically inspiring tales like this.
Given the fabricated art and commercials that are in High on Life, it’s easy to assume that stuff like Tammy and the T-Rex and 1986’s Blood Harvest (also a real film) might be too out there for reality. True to the comedic style of what we’d find in Rick and Morty, however, it’s yet another obscure yet very real thing that’s now living, rent-free, in your brain. And now that you know where to stream Tammy and the T-Rex, you’ve got your weekend viewing already lined up. I mean, unless you wanna watch some piece of shit modern Jurassic World thing instead.