The Human Tornado (1976)

The bad, bad Dolemite returns in a new adventure that drops any semblance of serious tone and goes right to the proof that, at this point, Rudy Ray Moore had lost his mind. The first movie was a prime example of the “so bad, its good” genre as it walked the erratic line between parody and poorly executed drama. Moore’s second film as his iconic character, THE HUMAN TORNADO, is just downright insane. Moore isolated the craziest elements of his first movie, jacked the WTF meter up to 11, and created one of the most absurdly awesome movies of the 70s. The movie finds Dolemite living in the South. I guess. It never really establishes where he is, or why, but all of the white people are hillbillies. When he’s caught in bed with the crazy, racist sheriff’s wife, Dolemite and his posse hightail it out of town and head to Los Angeles where mob boss Cavaletti has shut down Queen Bee’s club and taken two of her girls as prisoners. With the law hot on his trail, Dolemite arrives on the west coast and undertakes his own investigation into Cavaletti and plotting how to rescue the girls and end the gangster’s stranglehold over Queen Bee and her girls. Having written that quick summation, I’m pretty sure I’ve already put more thought into the plot of THE HUMAN TORNADO than screenwriter Jerry Jones (who also returns as Detective Blakely) was ever required to. This is easily Moore’s best film ever.

As if to warn the audience what they’ve wandered into, it opens with Rudy Ray Moore in various colorful get-ups and “karate” poses as the opening credits roll. The movie has also acquired a new director, Cliff Roquemore, who seems to have a better grasp on how to shoot a movie than D’Urville Martin. It’s still low on production value, but at least you aren’t spotting boom microphones in every scene and he tries to move the camera around a bit more. The acting is still horrible, but it aspires for all-new levels of horrible. J.B. Baron is near legendary as Sheriff Beatty, the racist hillbilly with a grudge against Dolemite. Baron is beyond over-the-top, bug-eyed and screeching racial slurs. The filmmakers obviously had a pretty low opinion of the South (although, considering the time this film was release…could you blame ’em?) and it’s populated in the film by hate-spewing rednecks ready to drop what they’re doing and form a lynch mob. The filmmakers’ view on homosexuals isn’t much better, with a gay man named Charlie becoming the victim of Dolemite’s carjacking. He spends the trip squealing in delight at his captors and spouting entendres. Everything is taken to the extreme here. It more than makes up for the actual low quality of the movie itself with it’s usual poor pacing, botched choreography, and failure to understand story structure. THE HUMAN TORNADO can’t figure out which plot line is more important: Cavaletti’s dirty business or the Sheriff’s vendetta. So it crams in both. Also, quick note… Ernie Hudson is in this!

There is just so much in this movie that will leave the audience scratching their head in confusion, but in a fun sense. When I first saw this movie, I knew immediately that I had to share the wealth with everyone I could convince to watch it. There are just so many WTF moments. What was the deal with the old woman who loved to torture girls? Why did Dolemite’s sex scene with Hurricane Annie cut away to a shot of them eating watermelon? Why did Jimmy get such an unnecessarily long death scene, seeing as how his character was so unimportant that I didn’t even know his name until he died? Was the beard on the henchman running the torture chamber painted on with shoe polish? Was Java really a man? How many drugs were consumed when coming up with the dream sequence representing Mrs. Cavaletti’s nymphomania? The movie is titled THE HUMAN TORNADO and the cover art depicts Rudy Ray Moore delivering a flurry of punches, but we come to discover that Dolemite’s nickname as the Human Tornado has nothing to do with his ability to kick butt. No, no, no…even better. This movie is just so crazy that I can’t describe how amazingly bizarre it is. All I can do is recommend that you watch it. I really hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did, but I know the humor might be lost on some. Give it a chance and it’ll all be worth it by the time you arrive at the ten minute kung-fu action sequence with Rudy Ray Moore’s closest approximation of martial arts as he waves his arms around and grunts as he battles his way into Cavaletti’s home. Pure gold. THE HUMAN TORNADO, just as with DOLEMITE before it, is far from a “good” movie, but there is so much wrong with it that it works perfectly.