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"Twister"
Latest Reflections from the Guild

(I saw this movie when it first came out and really enjoyed it but I'll have to wait for things to sow down around here before I do a plot summary! Bob Canada sent me a bunch of nits for the movie so we'll start the file with his reflections.)

Reflections from the Guild

[Note from Phil: I have not verified these but they sounded good to me!]

Bob Canada: I just bought Twister (the movie, not the game-Right foot Blue!).

This movie has some really cool aerial photography, and all of the tornado scenes were truly awe-inspiring. That having been said, on with the nits!

Did anyone else notice that the tornados (tornadoes?) occasionally roar like a lion or tiger?

At the beginning of the movie, the tv weatherman says there's a tornado watch out for Kingfisher county. I checked and there is indeed a Kingfisher county in Oklahoma (where I assume the flashback at least is taking place).

Is it just a coincidence that in the flashback, young Jo's dog (Toby) looks just like Toto?

Young Jo's family runs out of the house, thru a flock of squawking chickens in the yard, and into the storm cellar. I have chickens, and they do NOT mill around your yard at night. They go to roost long before it ever gets dark. Even in a storm, they woouldn't leave the safety of their roost (unless of course it got knocked over or something, but I didn't see that happen).

It's a terrifying scene, and I hate to speak ill of the dead, but Jo's dad wasn't the brightest guy in the world, was he? Trying to hold the door down...

Why in the name of all that's nitworthy would you put a SKYLIGHT in a storm cellar???? Jo's dad strikes again!

Captain Harriman from "Generations" seems to also have been displaced by the Nexus. And Joey from "The Single Guy" and Jerry from "E.R." seem to have twins who live in Oklahoma and chase tornados.

Its hard to tell in some scenes, but to me it looked like Bill's truck is the only vehicle in the whole movie with a rearview mirror. Even so, his sits way, way too high on the windshield to be of any practical use. This happens in virtually every movie made today-movie cars and trucks rarely have rearview mirrors. Apparently they're a prohibitively expensive option in Movieland.

Bill's fiancee Melissa is a MAJOR cabbage head. MAJOR. HUGE. MASSIVE. Her whole reason for existance is to ask questions so the characters can explain tornado stuff to her (and us). She can't possibly be that dumb. She sounds like she's from Oklahoma herself-I realize we have no info as to where she spent most of her life, but if she grew up there in Tornado Alley even for a few years, there's no way she could be that clueless about tornados. There are too many of them for her to have never heard a warning, or read about one in the paper, or seen a documentary...instead of making her come off as just a curious novice, it makes her look like...a Cabbage Head!

When Jonas first appears in his shiny black van, a closeup of Bill in his truck shows Bill looking to the side, and then slightly ahead, as if Jonas is passing him. However, when they cut to Bill's point-of-view, Jonas and his van are right exactly beside him.

Enjoyable as the movie is, it would have been nice if they'd have explained some more of the terms (where's Melissa when you need her?). "Goin' green" for instance. I assume they're referring to the fact that sometimes the sky turns an ominous greenish hue before a major storm. Or does Bill mean he's nauseous? Jonas says to "look for hooks" too. You mean the distinctive "hook" shape that a tornado sometimes makes on a radar screen, or are you shopping for prostetic limbs?

Boy, they really got their soundtrack money's worth in this movie...I didn't realize how annoying it was to hear someone singing lyrics in the background under the dialogue as opposed to just mood-setting music.

Jo must have been so surprised when everyone left the cafe and flew off after the twister, that she swallowed her gum! While talking to Melissa she stuffs a big wad in her mouth, and 20 seconds later she runs to her truck and its gone.

After the first tornado attack, when Jo is still in the culvert, she's muddy, but not overly so. Her hair's damp, but not soaked, and while her white shirt is dirty, its still recongnizable as white. Melissa then narrowly avoids running into Jo's overturned truck. The next series of shot shows Jo walking by Bill comforting Melissa. Each shot of Jo walking by shows her progressively more wet and muddy. I mean really muddy. Matted hair stuck to her face and brown shirt muddy. Did she slide back down the bank a couple of times, trying to get up it while she was off camera? Did she decide to practice her mud wrestlin'? I know, maybe she's got one of those little cartoon "gloom clouds" over her head that follows her around and rains on her. Apparently she had a change of the exact same set of clothes in her truck, because after they load Dorothy II into Bill's truck, her shirt is still dirty, but much much whiter again.

As with all movie binoculars, Jonas see two joined circles when he looks thru his, instead on one cirlce like I see thru mine. By the way-poor Carey Elwes-his accent wanders all over the midwest and south.

Why did we keep seeing two waterspouts, then when they disapated, we saw three? If there were supposed to be three all along, it wasn't depicted very clearly. Also, the waterspouts are spinning counter-clockwise (in fact, all the twisters in the movie spin CCW-I have no idea if this is correct or not), and although its hard to be 100% positive, they appear to be spinning around each other counter-clockwise too. Yet Bill's truck gets spun around clockwise...this just doesn't seem right to me.

Wouldn't all those windchimes at Aunt Meg's house just make you want to gouge your ears out after a while? One set is pleasant, but all those industrial strength ones she has...

Why does everyone stop dead in their tracks when Melissa asks if there's an F5? Geez, you'd think she'd uttered an obscenity or racial epithet or something. Yes, the sight of an F5 coming toward you would probably make you wet yourself, but why not just say, "Yes Melissa, there is indeed such a thing as an F5, and its the most destructive force in nature," and go on with the meal.

Cool line: "That's no moon, that's a space station!"

Wouldn't it make sense to prep and fire up Dorothy BEFORE you got near the tornado, instead of waiting until you're right next to it, and have to get pelted with hail (which really hurts, BTW). Also, a simple 39 hook or clasp on the lid would have saved at least two of the Dorothys when they tipped over in the road... You'd also think that maybe one of these alleged PROFESSORS would have realized that Dorothy needed to be achored down in order to stay upright long enough for the twister to blow over it, instead of putting the thing on WHEELS so it could sail merrily down the raod. Maybe Jo's dad actually designed the prototype...

Jo gets on her hands and knees in the middle of the road and tries to salvage all the sensors she can. What a time to decide to practice her ventriloquist act! She yells "Help me, help me" several times, but her lips never move.

That is ONE senstitive speaker in Bill's truck. Bill stands in the middle of the road and confesses he still loves Jo, and even though they're standing a good 50 feet from the truck (in a windstorm yet), its still sensitive enough to pick them up so Melissa can hear.

At the drive-in concession stand, the tv inside gets knocked off the air, and Bill and Jo exchanged worried glances. A tornado can certainly knock a tv station out. However, the way Bill stares at it, I kind of got the feeling they were trying to show that the tv was detecting the twister. This is an old wive's tale, that you can tune your tv to an unused station and see a certain pattern in the snow which indicated an approaching twister. I've even heard my local weatherman spouting this baloney, but a meteorology class I took says its false. Tornados are just wind, they don't generate "twister waves."

When Dusty runs up to Aunt Meg's destroyed house, he yells "somebody hold my wa-." Closed captioning confirms this. "Hold my Wa-." What's a wa? His watch? Must be a Rolex, if he's thinking about it instead of poor ol' Aunt Meg.

Did Pepsi perhaps sponsor this movie? After they get the idea to but beanie propellers on all the probes, Dusty reaches into a bag filled with several hundred pop cans, and every single one is a Pepsi. Nary a Coke or Mountain Dew in sight. Pretty unrealistic to me-where would you find that many of the exact same can? Nice touch though, having a box of bandaids in the background (and the one girl with the Gilligan hat had cuts all over her hands).

Somehow, Jo is able to see the flying tanker truck coming out of the vortex before we do. Must be something to do with Helen Hunt's squinty eyes.

Bill's windshield must have a mutant healing factor. When the F5 tornado rips thru the tractor dealership and starts picking up machinery, it drops a combine on the road as Bill and Jo's truck drives by. The grain chute swings around and crashes into the windshield of their truck-you can definitely hear the sound of breaking glass, and even see a large hole busted in the upper center of the windshield. Yet the very next instant (and the rest of the movie) shows a closeup of Jo thru a cracked, but defintely whole, windshield.

The image of the house blowing across the road was certainly cool and unexpected, but could you *really* drive a truck all the way thru a house? Granted it was probably weakened from rolling across the field, but...guess they don't build houses like they used to!

How come Dorothy II took 5 minutes to set up, but Dorothy IV took 5 seconds? They look identical to me. Then again, it was Bill took 5 minutes to set up D2, and Jo set up D4, so maybe he just didn't know what he was doing.

I wonder if Bill Paxson had any trouble memorizing his lines? The last 15 minutes or so consist of him yelling "Come on," or "Let's get out of here," and "Hurry!"

How exactly are the probes tracked? I understand that they're supposed to be sucked up into the vortex and their positions and movements will provide info on the internal structure of the twister. But are they giving off a signal? Are they radioactive? Magnetic? They must have some kind of internal power source, because when Bill's truck drives into the F5 twister, Dorothy's lid flips up and all the probes light up and start blinking as they fly up into the vortex. How do they know when to turn on? Do they activate when they're jostled? This sounds more like Federation technolgy than something a university lab cobbled together.

Murray J.D. Leeder: A good movie, even though it has the stupidest line ever in it! I refer to "They're not in it for the science"! Evil stormchasers! Gimme a break... (and just what relevancy do the villains have to the plot, really?)

I have to wonder about real-world stormchasers. Are they allowed to violate speed limits and drive through private property? (I suppose it is a life-threating situation)

It looks like that idiot from the Starkist jelly beans commercial has a twin brother too (the good one?)

Lee Lorenz of Fenton, MI: OK, first off, not a nit, but an unusual thing: While showing "Twister" at a drive-in, an ACTUAL TWISTER blew through and tore up the screen. How's about that for life imitating art? This happened in Ontario, Canada back in May.

If I remember correctly, the previews and trailers CLEARLY show a tractor tire coming straight at the truck's windshield... I don't recall seeing this scene ANYWHERE in the movie, even though I watched for it.

In driving through the house, the truck drove diagonally over some stairs, but this doesn't seem to match the way the house was sitting on the road...

Matthew Chiappardi of Hamilton, NJ: This is not a fair one, sorry -guys (and girls) who made "Twister"! This is an inherent problem when doing location shoots, but more so in a movie about a storm where the entire audiences focus is towards the sky. Many times when doing location shoots there are, of course, many takes. Sometimes two or three diffrent takes are edited together for one scene. For example: I film the wide shot of a conversation, then I film the same conversation over again just to film closeups. Then I edit them together as if they're one scene. Obviously these two takes are done at different times (perhaps even different days) and the sky shows it. Clouds are in different spots, it goes from sunny to cloudy to sunny again in seconds...etc.

Christopher Pope: In reply to one of Bob Canada's comments, you BET there's a Kingfisher County in Oklahoma. That's where my dad grew up, and his dad, and his dad before him, and where my great-great-grandfather and great-great-great-grandfather settled when the land opened up. And yes, we do have tornadoes there. My grandparents' farm got hit by one this summer, in fact.

Donald Carlson of Birmingham, AL: Regarding Lee Lorenz of Fenton, MI about the missing tractor tire scene--this has been explained. Back when the makers of Twister were selling the idea of the movie to the studio, they commissioned a brief sample clip of digital effects to prove that realistic effects could be done within budget. The clip showing the tractor tire being blown at the movie screen was that demo clip. According to the filmmakers, it was a "quick and dirty" effect not suitable for use blown up to full screen size, but okay for a quick-cut within a trailer, and on promotional TV spots. This is from an article in Entertainment Weekly.

Jason Gaston: This movie, while entertaining, is totally, ridiculously, undeniably, UNrealistic. As someone who has live in tornado alley all of my life I can tell you this.

1) You do NOT drive a truck anywhere near a tornado. Even a small twister can flip a vehicle from a distance.

2) You do NOT run from a tornado. Period. ESPECIALLY an F5. Keep in mind, this is the same twist that was throwing houses and semi-trucks and you actually expect me to believe that two people out in the open are going to run from it. (insert sarcast Odo-grunt here).

3) Tornados have been known to drive pieces of straw straight through telephone polls. You honestly expect me to belive that Jo and Bill where in the heart of an F5 and lived to tell about it? Fat chance. They'd be shredded in five seconds.

Ok, now that the scientific stuff is out of the way...

Watch for the reflection of the helicopter in Bill's pick-up when the camera first zooms in on it.

When they are chacing the tornadoes on the bridge, the road is supposedly deserted. Yet, a pickup can be seen traveling in the opposite direction in one shot.

The movie shown in the drive-in is "The Shining." Somehow, the film jumps over an hour while the tornado chasers are there.

When the radio tower impales Jonas's poor driver... How is that possible!? Watch the tornado. It is moving counter-clockwise so the winds should be blowing from the back of Jonas' truck. Yet, the tower flies forward as if the winds are blowing towards the truck.

Just before the twister demolishes the tractor dealership, watch the two flags by the road. They are gently swaying in the breeze while everything else is getting blown away.

G.R. Crawford: I was talking to my science teacher about the scene where Jo and Bill are tied to those pipes and are in the tornado. We have been studying weather and I find it totally untrue that they survied that long in the tornado. The low pressure in and around the tornado must have done SOMETHING to their bodies. Another Hollywood moment.

Mark David Bowman: As Jo and Bill were running through the field right after the barn wall sails tward them a peice of farm machinery nearly hits Jo. If you look closely you will notice that the blades actualy seem to be moving lower than she is ducking. In other words the peice of machinery must have went right through her.

After the tornado ripped through the drive-in Melissa decides to go home by herself. Is this a smart thing to do? A tornado just ripped through the area downing powerlines and causing all kinds of damage. Just a couple months ago a heavy storm ripped here through Roslyn and the storm was powerful enough to actualy relocate sections of the road in some places and cause heavy flooding. If a powerful thunderstorm can do that much damage, imagine what a tornadocan do.

One more thing: Howcome the lightning does not show up on the outside of the F5 at the end of the movie?


If you would like to add some comments, drop me a note at chief@nitcentral.com. Please put the name of the movie in the Subject line and include your real name, city and state (or province and county as the case may be) in the body of the e-mail so I can give you credit if you are the first person to bring up a particular nit. (Remember the legalese: Everything you submit becomes mine and you grant me the right to use your name in any future publication by me. I will do my best to give you credit if you are the first person to submit a particular nit but I make no guarantees. And finally, due to the volume of mail received at Nitpicker Central, your submission may or may not be acknowledged.)

Copyright 1996 by Phil Farrand. All Rights Reserved.