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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

VHS Vednesday: The Human Tornado

THE HUMAN TORNADO (1976). Directed by Cliff Roquemore. Starring Rudy Ray Moore, Lady Reed, and Ernie Hudson.

In honor of the late, great Rudy Ray Moore, this week I'm taking a look at what may be his ultimate movie. As ass-kickin' and name-takin' as his screen debut in Dolemite was, that movie was still rather conventional in terms of story and direction; only Moore's awesome persona (and the footage of his stand-up act) distinguish it from any number of action movies of the period. The sequel The Human Tornado, on the other hand, is completely insane.
The plotline is still relatively unimportant. On the run from a bigoted redneck sheriff who found Dolemite in bed with the sheriff's wife (then framed Dolemite for her murder), Dolemite skips town and heads for L.A., where he learns that his old friend Queen Bee (Lady Reed) has been feeling the pressure from gangster Cavaletti (Herb Graham) who wants to muscle in on her nightclub. When Cavaletti kidnaps some of Queen Bee's "girls" to use as leverage, it's Dolemite to the rescue...and that's pretty much all you need to know.
The movie is punctuated by countless bizarre flourishes: While making a butt-naked escape and rolling down a steep hillside Dolemite interrupts the movie to inform the viewer that he's doing his own stunts ("So y'all don't believe I jumped?"), rewinding the scene to prove it. Dolemite seduces Cavaletti's wife (Barbara Gerl) by posing as an art salesman (with a bizarre, unplaceable accent) and showing her an erotic black velvet painting. The resulting sex scene literally brings down the house, with the roof caving in as Mrs. Cavaletti ecstatically informs him where to find the kidnapped prisoners, "They're at the HOUSE...on the PASADENA!" And, of course, there's the trademark Rudy Ray Moore stand-up comedy, and over-the-top martial-arts battles.
As with all of Rudy Ray Moore's work, The Human Tornado is not for delicate sensibilities. Stereotypes of all sorts abound (in an equal-opportunity-offender kind of way), not to mention profanity and nudity. But because it's Rudy Ray Moore, you can't look away even when you might want to.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Check out young Ernie Hudson (credited as Louis Hudson) as one of Dolemite's crew. From The Human Tornado to Ghostbusters to

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