Of all the villains that emerged in the summer of 1996—terrorist marines in The Rock, the dial-up averse aliens of Independence Day, Tom Cruise's sweat Mission: Impossible—none proved more formidable than the roaring, Van Halen-blasting bitch that is Mother Nature in Twister.
The movie was the perfect storm (ugh) of '90s environmental terror and hackneyed blockbuster nonsense, featuring Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt and a young Phillip Seymour Hoffman as storm-chasers on the trail of a cow-tossing, truck-exploding, building-crushing F5-category funnel of wind (you know it's powerful when it shares a name with a Battleship coordinate) that can only be bested by, um, tying yourself to a leather strap and waiting for everything around you to be destroyed while you escape unscathed, apparently.
Appropriately, on Thursday Hecklevision's heralding the 20th anniversary of the environmental blockbuster about extreme weather that was cool before republicans made calling extreme weather a myth perpetrated by the media. And to celebrate, we took a look back at cinema's most notable tornados.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
A Midwestern girl with the fashion sense of a geriatric librarian gets lifted from her Kanas home by a tornado — a cutting-edge special effect that still looks eerie today–and plopped into a quirky, far-flung land where weirdos thrive despite having extremely limited skill sets. She goes back to Kansas and tells everybody about it. Basically, this tornado could be used as a metaphor for Portland transplants circa 2004.
Oz, The Great and Powerful (2013)
Basically, the same thing as The Wizard of Oz, except instead of a sweet Midwestern girl, the tornado—a cutting-edge effect that looks dated three years later—brings the quirky land of weirdos an opportunistic huckster in a vintage suit who basically decides that the what the city needs is more modern buildings. So… Portland now?
Into the Storm (2014)
This recent found-footage film is basically Twister with shitty shaky cam and the main dwarf from The Hobbit. Except this bomb has one thing that Twister does not: Fire tornados. That's right. At one point, a twister rips through a gas station and turns into a burning funnel-cloud of death. How that wasn't just the whole movie is beyond me, though I generally think any movie would be better with constant fire tornado action.
Where the Heart Is (2000)
The tornado at the climax of this early Natalie Portman clunker about a redneck girl who has a baby while living in an Oklahoma Wal-Mart isn't particularly spectacular (basically, you're legally required to feature a tornado in an Oklahoma-set movie, which is why they don't make many of them). But it's proof positive that Natalie Portman can survive anything: A movie about a Wal-Mart mama facing down a tornado? Shit, this woman already survived George Lucas, and would go on to do it two more times, then make Your Highness. She's basically invincible.
X2: X-Men United (2003)
Halle Berry's iconic weather-witch hero Storm finally gets a moment worthy of the character and the actress who plays her when, during an aerial jet-chase, she summons a bunch of tornados to wreak havoc on the pursuing aircraft. Then, well, she kind of just disappears into the background for a couple more movies.
Tornado? Destructive. Todnado that touches down in shark-infested waters, then sends hundreds of poorly rendered CGI sharks raining down on the city, where chainsaw-strapped d-list celebrities get hacked and slashed, flung around by wind and instilled with a sense of purpose that hadn't existed since 90210 was canceled. It also marks the point in time when SyFy became self aware, kind of like Skynet. But with subsequent Sharknado movies and not terrible Schwarzenegger reboots.
Tall Tale (1995)
Nobody remembers this Disney movie, mainly because it fits somewhere in between the Elijah Wood Huck Finn movie and eating at Fuddruckers in terms of things you were forced to endure with your dad if you were a kid in the '90s. But this is a hugely important movie, mainly because it features Patrick Swayze doing the only logical thing local after all the extreme action of Point Break: He rides a tornado while dressed as Pecos Bill. That's right. Patrick Swayze rides a fucking tornado in this movie. And the fact of the matter is, a tornado containing one Swayze could run roughshod through all three Sharknados, then make you breakfast while quoting Plato the next day. F5? Please. This tornado's category: F-Uckyeah.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
In what is essentially Roland Emmerich's remake or Independence Day, but with extreme weather instead of aliens, a series of tornados strikes Los Angeles, with one straight-up erasing the Hollywood sign. But alas, those tornados only make a cameo appearance, and are soon taken over by the thrills of… Jake Gyllenhaal running away from cold air? Jesus. Hecklevision should make Twister a double feature.
GO: Twister is at Hollywood Theatre. 9:30 pm Thursday, May 12.
With a screening of Young Frankenstein and a stellar bakery at their disposal, Pix has a rare opportunity to pair the Mel Brooks classic with homemade Ritz crackers. But we'll understand if they just stick with macaroons. Pix Patisserie. Dusk. Wednesday, May 11.
The Portland German Film Fest celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Deutsche Film-AG Studio with a screening of Kathe Killwitz: Images of Life, a tragedy about an artist who becomes a pacifistic radical during World War I. Clinton Street Theater. 7 pm Wednesday, May 11.
Just by virtue of being the first feature shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, 2012's Wadjda is essential viewing for film fans. That it's a clever, defiant, feminist coming-of-age powerhouse makes it essential for everybody. 5th Avenue Cinema. 7 & 9:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 3 pm Sunday, May 13-15.
The Academy's excellent run of classic '70s noir arrives at the Raymond Chandler adaptation The Long Goodbye, that most Robert Altman of potboilers featuring Elloitt Gould as the seminal Philip Marlowe. Academy Theater. Friday-Thursday, May 13-19.
John Steinbeck's sprawling East of Eden was, at the time, deemed unfilmable. That was before the great Elia Kazan came along, cast a kid named James Dean in a pivotal role, and set the bar for all sprawling dramas to follow. Laurelhurst Theater. Friday-Thursday, May 13-19.
Legendary '80s sociopath Ferris Bueller celebrates 30 years of making screwing over everybody who loves you look like the best time in the world. Century Clackamas Town Center. 2 & 7 pm Sunday & Tuesday, May 15 & 18.
The Hollywood's resident film archivist Dennis Nyback takes a look back at the reactionary works of legendary animators in wartime with Strange & Vicious War Cartoons. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Monday, May 16.
Repressed Cinema gets greasy with Roger Corman's 1959 look at the teenage wasteland of juvenile delinquents with T-Bird Gang. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Tuesday, May 17.