Night of the Twister Ripoff

1996 brought us Twister, and along with it came a whole slew of attempts to cash in on the increased interest in tornadoes sparked by Twister. The best thing to come out of this was a bunch of narrated compilations of stormchaser footage and home video footage of tornadoes. Most of these are quite good, even if they often reuse the same footage. Of more dubious quality were the numerous direct-to-video and (as in this case) made-for-TV movies about tornadoes.

I will confess to a certain amount of affection for these hastily-made, low-budget attempts to cash in on the tornado fad. Yeah, the tornadoes look so bad they often inspire unintentional laughter, but it’s not like any of these movies were working with Twister’s budget.

Okay, I will call Nerd Alert on myself and confess that I was absolutely livid at this film’s attempts to portray the tornadoes as especially unpredictable or dangerous because they were “anticyclonic.” In real life, anticyclonic means… the tornado rotates clockwise, whereas most tornadoes in this hemisphere rotate counterclockwise. (It’s reversed in the southern hemisphere.) That’s… it. That’s literally all it means. In this movie, it apparently means that the tornado also moves from northwest to southeast, which… no, that’s not a thing. The movie would also have you believe that every tornado moves from southwest to northeast, which… again, no. A majority of tornadoes move either southwest to northeast or west to east for the majority of their path, but tornadoes can move in any direction based on a variety of factors, and can even backtrack their own damage path. Basically, the movie tried over and over to convince you that tornadoes always behave a certain way, and the tornadoes in this particular circumstance were behaving in a way that no one had ever seen before.

What’s really frustrating about this is the main thing working in this movie’s favor is that the very simple scenario of “a tornado outbreak happens at night” is actually… fine! You don’t need to add anything else to it, it has a very specific kind of atmosphere and mood to it that differentiates it from a lot of other generic tornado movies. If you had just stuck with that, maybe you would’ve had something.

I did get a good chuckle out of the protagonist and his best friend and their definitely, totally, 100% heterosexual relationship. Seriously, they were so fucking gay for each other, just embrace it you cowards. And then the postscript narration informs us that they see less and less of each other because the protagonist started dating a girl that we saw him interact with for like two whole minutes despite her popping up with her own best friend whom she’s definitely not gay for like three or four distinct times.

There’s also some hamfisted attempt to show that the main character learned a valuable lesson about… uh… following through on his commitments, or something, by… surviving the tornado? I don’t know. His dad says he’s proud of him, so I guess he learned something. (During the aforementioned epilogue, he does say something really confusing that’s along the lines of “you never know when a tornado might come out of nowhere and kill you, and I guess that’s the best way for it to be” so his dad might want to like… check in with him and make sure he actually got what he was trying to teach him, unless that was it.)

(The epilogue also randomly killed the grandma, because, uh, sure, why not, I guess?)


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