Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

I think I used to have the VHS, but I chucked all my tapes years ago. This recently became available on Amazon Prime Video, where I got the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia. It’s Twister, starring Bill Paxton as William “Bill” “The Extreme” Harding and Helen Hunt as Dr. Jo Harding (née Thornton). It’s from 1996, released by Warner Brothers.

The movie opens in June 1969. We see the Thornton family on the Oklahoma prairie catching storm warnings on the TV. They head for the storm shelter as a category 5 tornado bears down on their farm. As a young child, Jo Thornton watches in horror as the storm sucks her father out the shelter door and into the sky.


Years later, Jo Thornton is now Dr. Jo Harding, severe weather researcher. Only, her marriage to Bill Thornton is coming to an end, as Bill and his new fiancée, Dr. Melissa Reeves (Jami Gertz), show up at Jo’s field team assembly. He needs Jo to finish signing the divorce papers, so he and Dr. Reeves can go off and make whoopee. Things never get that far.


It’s storm season, and chaser teams thread the Oklahoma back roads, aiming to plant their rival technologies in the path of a tornado.


The rival team is headed by Dr. Jonas Miller (Cary Elwes), a prior research partner who has stolen Dr. Harding’s Dorothy technology, a scheme to get hordes of tiny sensors sucked up into a funnel. The Miller team is industry funded, and it shines. Of course, Dorothy is named after the Judy Garland character in The Wizard of Oz, who gets sucked up into a tornado and spat out in the magical land of Oz.


Ignoring the plot, it ends up this way. Wrong-headed Jonas ignores shrewd advice from Bill and directs his team into the path of a category five tornado, which sucks them all up into the sky and spits them out onto the prairie as Jo and Bill watch in horror.

Jo and Bill get Dorothy planted in the path of the tornado, and wonderful science is obtained. Dr. Reeves decides she really doesn’t want to be married to Bill and calls the whole thing off. Bill and Jo survive the storm and stay married. And that’s the plot, simplified.


What makes this a bad movie is its horrid insult to basic science. The wind whips up (tornado approaching) and a cow flies past the window. And again.


Likewise a tanker truck comes flying toward them.


All of this is a lot of nonsense. Of course, in a tornado cows and tanker trucks really do go flying, but it doesn’t look like this. Basic physics requires that for level motion there must be an updraft. No such is apparent in these special effects renditions.

What apparently has happened is the producers have stolen from the original tornado film, The Wizard of Oz.

Here Dorothy dashes for safety as the twister approaches.


The screen door becomes a missile when she goes to open it.


In her dream sequence she see a cow (mooing) going past the window.


This movie gives us all this, minus the wonderful land of Oz.

We’ve seen Bill Paxton before. He was the evil older brother in Weird Science, previously reviewed.


One thought on “Bad Movie of the Week

  1. Pingback: Bad Movie of the Week | Skeptical Analysis

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