Monday, May 31, 2010

The Monster of Twister

With thunderstorm season upon us, and considering that it was a light show of lighting here in Chicago last night, I figured that I would pop in Twister for some good tornado fun. Those who know me on a personal level will know that as a kid, I was severely afraid of tornadoes because of a certain incident that will be told a later time. Yes, tornadoes made me so afraid that at one point in my life I hear the sirens and I ran out of my bathtub, naked, to go hide in the cold cellar. Well, I revisited Twister… a movie that only added to my fear of tornadoes and I realized that there were two scenes in that film that play out like a horror movie. When it comes to real life horror, many people dismiss natural weather phenomena and specifically tornadoes. Tornadoes are probably one of the scariest things that Mother Nature can conjure up and they are the true monsters of the world.

In the prologue of the movie we are introduced to the young character Jo Harding. In these scenes she is scarred for life after she witnesses her father get sucked into the funnel of an F5, while she is powerless to do anything. What’s scary about this scene are the effects, the sound (especially the sound) and the fact that you don’t see anything. Once the report comes onto the TV telling people to get into the cellars, lighting flashes and strikes down all around the home; sparks fly and the wind is destroying everything. However, the most frightening part out of all of this is the scene where Jo’s father is trying to hold down the storm cellar door, as the F5 is right over it. You don’t see what’s atop the door; all you see is this fantastic bright light, wind tearing off the boards of the door and this awful screeching sound like a train derailing. When Jo’s father gets sucked into the vortex, it’s a shocker and you don’t expect it. Visually and sound-wise, this is a very powerful film and it bares several similarities in horror films where you don’t see the monster, but you see it kill the person. The art of not showing anything.

However, the most creepiest scenes in the whole movie has to be the drive-in sequence… and not just because they played The Shining. The sequence shows us that the tornado’s presents in there as the wind blows through the window, rustling up the drapes; almost as though death is upon them. The wind typifies the tornado as a monster that’s about to ravage the land in a blind heat of anger. I’d go even further to say that it’s almost poetic. When Jo, Bill and Melissa walk out into the open area of the drive-in looking beyond the camera, it’s haunting because you don’t see what they are seeing, you only have the wind blowing towards them. It’s as if they are staring into the eye of a monster but they don’t see the entire body. When we finally do see the F4 behind the screen, it’s dark and we only see flashes of the whole funnel because of the lightning. The sound is key in this scene because as tornado survivors will tell you, the sounds of the funnel are similar to that of a giant train running over your head. The sound alone gives the tornado this monstrous and gargantuan feel.

People will debate whether or not Twister is a good movie, and although I think it is a good thrill ride you can’t help but agree that those scenes in the movie are pretty intense if not scary. This is a Hollywoodized version of what a tornado can do but it’s pretty close as to how a tornado can sound and the damage that it can do.


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