1985's My Science Project is a childhood favorite of mine. Despite some awesome special effects, it's mostly forgotten today.
It begins in the 1950's. President Dwight D. Eisenhower is brought to an Arizona Air Force base and shown a crashed UFO. He orders the high-ranking generals, "Get rid of it!" Flashforward to modern times (a.k.a. the 1980's). Mike Harlan is a student at a high school in Carson, Arizona, known as "Motorhead Mike" to his friends because of his love of cars. He has problems. His single father is remarrying to an Avon saleswoman, he's recently had a bad breakup with his bitch girlfriend Crystal, and on top of everything else, he's going to flunk science unless his science project is, as the teacher (played by Dennis Hopper!) puts it, "dino-supreme." Mike is asked out on a date by nerdy girl Ellie Sawyer, and, to spite Crystal, he agrees, but Mike's idea of a date is to drag Ellie along to the nearby decommissioned Air Force base, now used as a junkyard. His brilliant plan is to find some random doo-dad to fix it up and pass it off as his science project. What he finds is a futuristic device which is apparently the engine or power source to the crashed UFO seen previously. It resembles a lightning globe from Spencer's Gifts.
After getting the "gizmo, " as Mike's deadbeat best friend Vince Latello calls it, back to school, Mike discovers that the thing gobbles up raw energy like a cop on a donut factory (to steal a line from Ghostbusters 2). Hooking it up to a car battery causes A) the battery to drain and melt (!), and B) a Grecian vase to appear out of thin air. Consulting school nerd Sherman Reardon, Mike and Vince learn that the device is capable of creating a time warp when it has access to power.
They show it to the science teacher who rather stupidly hooks it up to an electrical outlet, which results in him being zapped into the future, and, after some further complicated shenanigans, Mike, Ellie and Vince are forced to raid Mike's dad's hardware store for some dynamite, which they use to blow up an electrical tower, stopping the "gizmo" from feeding off Carson's power station. This gets them arrested. Well, Mike and Vince anyway. The cops ignore Ellie for some reason.
To prove their story and spring her kinda-sorta boyfriend, Ellie returns to the school to get the machine, where she encounters Sherman the nerd. Intrigued, Sherman repeats the science teacher's mistake and plugs the device back in, only this time, with nothing stopping it (the powerlines have been fixed), it starts sucking up so much energy that soon all of Carson is blacked out. Mike and Vince use the confusion to escape custody and quickly discover their school is now the center for an ever-expanding time warp threatening to consume all of Carson, and eventually the world.
Venturing within, our heroes have to find and rescue Ellie and unplug the device and stop the warp before it expands and destroys all of creation. To do so, they'll have to fight their way past a variety of grouchy individuals teleported in from other time periods, including a Roman gladiator, a caveman, Viet Cong soldiers, mutants from the future, and, in my personal favorite sequence, a giant tyrannosaurus rex.
So, it's a fairly small-scale film in terms of special effects. The tyrannosaur is the movie's big setpiece, but they went all-out on him. He's gorgeous. He's (apparently) a combination of a back-projected puppet and a full-size animatronic, and he looks very realistic for 1985. In fact I'd go so far as to say that he's the best-looking dinosaur made prior to Jurassic Park.
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