The ABCs of Weird Cinema: The Human Tornado

In this semi-regular column, I’ll go through the alphabet and post a different movie that you should seek out. These aren’t reviews, merely a small sample of the weirdness you’ll find in the film itself.

The Human Tornado (1976)
Country: United States
Director: Cliff Roquemore
Writer: Jerry Jones
Starring: Rudy Ray Moore, Lady Reed and Jimmy Lynch

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“That motherfucker think I’m dead, but he don’t know: I’m a human tornado!”

Don’t get me wrong, BLACK DYNAMITE is a fun film (even if some of the jokes are worn a little thin by the time the movie drags to its conclusion). That said, when it comes to Blaxploitation kung-fu films featuring badass motherfuckers who are equally adept at killing and kissing, nothing compares to the real deal.

THE HUMAN TORNADO is a sequel to Rudy Ray Moore’s DOLEMITE, a feature film that featured Moore’s alter ego, a rhyming, ass-kicking urban superhero. Created as part of Moore’s stand-up comedy act (in addition to being an action film star and a comedian, Moore was also a musician, a writer and a veteran), Dolemite was a cross between Bruce Lee, James Bond and Shaft.

Smooth with the ladies and deadly with criminals and racists, as the movie opens Dolemite is living large in his mansion when a violent encounter with the racist sheriff married to the woman Dolemite is currently bedding sends him on the run to California. It’s in the sunny state that Dolemite is recruited to help save a nightclub from a greedy mob boss. Along the way audiences will get to uncomfortably laugh at plenty of negative stereotypes (blacks, whites, gays – nobody’s safe in this refreshingly offensive film), they’ll witness heinous torture traps (grenade between the thighs!), they’ll see death-defying nude stunts and even witness a bald Ernie Hudson! This is better than a trip to Disneyworld!

Movies like THE HUMAN TORNADO just don’t get made anymore and, when they do, the filmmakers always feel the need to fill the movie with enough tongue-in-cheek winks to completely milk the movie of any real edge or purpose. Sure, parts of THE HUMAN TORNADO are cheesy, over-the-top and completely bizarre (there’s a dream sequence featuring a white woman fantasizing about giant black dolls that must be seen to be believed) but here’s the thing – these stylistic choices are on purpose! It’s not that THE HUMAN TORNADO is the product of especially shoddy filmmaking, the film is a comedy.

That’s why movies like BLACK DYNAMITE rub me the wrong way. Instead of celebrating the genre DYNAMITE’s filmmakers obviously have a huge passion for, the movie never passed up an opportunity to point out the genre’s limitations and goofs. Making a spoof of a film like THE HUMAN TORNADO would be like a filmmaker twenty years from now deciding to spoof MACGRUBER!

A full-tilt laugh-fest, THE HUMAN TORNADO is a funky fried flash of fun and features the full line-up of essentials for a movie of this nature: great music, outrageous action scenes, plenty of nubile naked flesh and some truly despicable racists. The movie never slows down to let audiences catch their breath, instead slathering on all the fixings in this cinematic double-decker bologna sandwich.

The movie is fully a product of the imagination and guidance of Mr. Rudy Ray Moore. In fact the credits begin with a sub-heading listing everybody in the cast and crew as assistants to Moore. In a way, Moore is a lot like Tyler Perry, another black artist with a tight control of his film productions. I just wish Perry would find more room in his movie for nunchuck fights and flying kicks.

Rudy Ray Moore would reprise his Dolemite role a few more times throughout the rest of his life – including in the abysmal Insane Clown Posse film BIG MONEY HUSTLAS. While ne never found the mainstream success of some of his contemporaries, Moore’s mark on the world of cinema is still felt thanks to its ever-growing group of fans and admirers. If you’ve never seen THE HUMAN TORNADO, don’t pass up an opportunity to catch the film at your earliest convince. If you live in the Houston area, you can watch a screening of an original 35mm print on Wednesday, August 22 at the Alamo Drafthouse – Mason Park.

Follow Robert Saucedo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/robsaucedo2500.

 

Robert Saucedo

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