Twister Fact Check – Disasters of the Cinema

Twister Fact Check – Disasters of the Cinema

Hey guys Lance here for Bad Day HQ. Now I’m sure many of you know that we love
natural disaster and true crime, but you probably didn’t know we’re also huge fans of seeing
them portrayed in movies. Unfortunately most disaster films are…well… Disasters themselves. So this is a brand new series called ‘Disasters
of the Cinema’ where we’re going to dissect the best of the best all the way to the worst
of the worst of disaster movies, and what better place to start than the grandmother
of them all: ‘Twister’. Truth be told I was going to start with this
one just because it’s a certified classic that entertained me to no end as a child,
but it has extra significance now seeing as the world just lost the star of the movie,
the man himself Bill ‘Game Over Man’ Paxton. The man had an uncanny ability to play everything
from a creepy soldier to a creepy car salesman to a creepy polygamist husband. But magically unlike other creeps he still
had a way of making us love the little cretin. Rest in peace Private Hudson, you’re creeping
out angels in heaven now. And now without further ado, let’s take
a look at one of the biggest blockbusters of the 1990’s. Twister follows the story of two storm chasers. Bill ‘The Extreme’ Harding played by Bill
The More Extreme Paxton, and Helen Hunt. Wait Helen Hunt? What the hell ever happened to her…. Oh she’s a director now… good for her. Helen plays Dr.Jo Harding, Bill’s ex-wife
and new leader of the storm chasers. In their grisly crew is HOLY SHIT that’s
Philip Seymore Hoffman. I guess this video is a tribute to two great
actors we lost too early. Like most of his early roles Philip plays
an eccentric weirdo that goes by the handle ‘Dusty’. Now the real villain of the movie should technically
be the tornadoes, but just for good measure they throw in a team of evil scientists with
corporate sponsorship who are just in it for the money, not the science! You know Fern Gully type stuff. Luckily the message never gets lost in any
kind of overt hypocrisy. The Princess Bride’s Cary Elwes plays yet
another handsome villain and the leader of the corporate shills. This was one of the last physically demanding
roles he took before retiring to more classical drama. And of course the real star of the film is
Dorothy, an advanced scientific prototype that could revolutionize our understanding
of tornadoes forever. By putting a bunch of little sensors in small
robots the theory is that if they were picked up by a tornado they would be able to map
exactly how it works for the first time. Such research could boost their ability to
predict when one would strike, moving upwards from 3 minutes to 15. That may not sound like a lot but they seem
pretty stoked on the idea. So plot aside the big question we wanted to
ask is what did they get right? Is any of the movie based on actual science? Well the answer is a surprising kinda. There’s a lot of well researched references
in the film that must have made watching it on the big screen a real treat for storm chasers
and nerds alike. There’s also factual inaccuracies but they’re
on a much smaller scale than what is done correctly. We’d like to give a shout out to Dennis
Mersereau who wrote the original article on the science of twister that we’ll provide
a link to in the description. Starting first with what they got wrong: At the beginning of the film before getting
sucked out of the storm cellar Jo’s father says the storm could be an F5. Two problems with this, the Fujita scale was
invented in 1971 and this scene takes place in 1969. The second problem is Jo never grew up to
become tornado girl, on a merciless rampage to avenge her father by murdering tornadoes. In the same scene Gary England is shown to
be using the weather radar to alert citizens. This was also never invented until 1973. But this one doubles as something they got
right, as Gary England was the first person to use it on television. The sky ‘going green’ is a half truth. It doesn’t guarantee a tornado is about
to occur. It happens when there’s enormous amount
of hail and water in a storm, similar to how a deep lake can take on a greenish tint. Tornadoes don’t roar like lions. Unfortunately. That scene where Bill and Jo hide under a
bridge would result in a very short film, because doing so to escape a tornado would
be as effective as getting a blind person to teach you topography. Unfortunately you can’t know the strength
of a tornado just by looking at it, only by assessing the damage it creates after the
fact. Finally tornadoes doesn’t go through the
night endlessly, they typically wane through the evening and start back up again the following
afternoon. Now on to the good stuff. What they did not twist? The satellite mentioned at the beginning of
the movie GOES 8 was a real satellite used by NOAA from 1994 to 2004. A lot of technical mumbo jumbo like “the
cap is breaking”, “the wind shear is veering” is completely spot on. You probably have Michael Crichton to thank
for that. The good guys bad guys money subplot is convoluted
even by hollywood standards, but both kinds do exist. There are scientists who chase storms for
science and ones who do it for money but they don’t compete with each other. There’s also insane people who do it just
for fun. Still any excuse to feature Cary Elwes is
a good one. The eye of the tornado being clear is actually
completely true, which you can see in radar photo’s taken as far back as June 2nd 1995. Tornadoes suddenly changing direction and
endangering chasers is a real danger, one that unfortunately took the lives of several
people in 2013 at El Reno Oklahoma. But finally the coolest aspect they nailed
was the concept of Dorothy itself. It’s based on a real life project called
‘TOTO that was conducted by the National Severe Storms Laboratory in the 1980s. Unfortunately in real life, the project never
ended up working. As a bonus fact we also looked into one of
the creepiest myths about this movie. According to an urban legend a real tornado
hit a drive in theatre in Stoney Creek Ontario while the movie was playing. In reality it actually hit a drive-in theatre
in Thorold Ontario (I’m not sure why those two are confused) damaging a screen, however
the movie was not playing at the time. It had be scheduled to play later that night
but due to the storm never got screened. If you take away the predictable love triangle
and tacked on villains what you’re left with is a pretty solid action movie that still
holds up today. This is thanks in large part to their choice
to stick mainly with practical effects and limit the use of visible CGI to the tornadoes
themselves…and a cow or two. The concept being based on a real world experiment
combined with some new information about tornadoes that wouldn’t have been public knowledge
to the lament really helped elevate this otherwise paint by numbers affair. It also helped having Steven Spielberg pitch
the original script to Michael Crichton who rewrote it with his wife. All in all we’d have to give this movie
three and a half Grandma’s steaks out of give. Did we miss something? Sound off in the comments below and let us
know what you think of this new series and what movies we should tackle next!

37 thoughts on “Twister Fact Check – Disasters of the Cinema

  1. Bill Paxton passed away a few weeks ago…😢
    I LOVED hIm in Twister and Twister is the first DVD I bought and still have to this day.

    This movie created a whole new generation of storm chasers…..
    May he (and Dusty) RIP.

  2. What should you do next…
    Do both Dante's Peak AND Volcano!
    Dante's Peak was done around 2002ish and Volcano was around 1998ish and Stared Tommy Lee Jones!

  3. And the BIG question…would tying themselves to a (hitching post? What the heck was that thing anyway?) with a belt have done anything except turn the belt into the equivalent of the snapped wire at the beginning of "Ghost Ship"?

  4. I'd also like to see you do the two most famous nuclear war movies: Threads and The Day After (and there's several other nuclear war movies: Countdown to Looking Glass, By Dawn's Early Light, Testament, World War III, and the Canadian-set radio play The Last Broadcast) – maybe you could do a special on all of them?

  5. Trivia–The cow flying by was also a nod to The Wizard of OZ–a cow flies past Dorothy when the house is in the cyclone (just as an FYI to the maybe 5 people in the civilized world who haven't seen it)

  6. San Francisco (1936)
    Earthquake (1974)
    St. Helens (1981)
    Daylight (1996)
    Dante's Peak/Volcano (1997)
    The Perfect Storm (2000)
    The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
    2012 (2009)
    10.0 Earthquake (2014)
    Into the Storm (2014)
    "San Andreas" (2015)
    The Wave (2016)

    A few to choose from. Some of them are based on actual events like St. Helens. Really there list is endless.

  7. Along the lines of The Day After mentioned already — the even earlier On The Beach. It might be interesting to review some on these older movies in light of current scientific knowledge. (Fun fact: I had to read two nuclear war / end of the world novels, On The Beach and Alas Babylon, going into Seventh grade. Nothing like depressing the hell out of a pre-teen.)

  8. How about one of my all time favourites – The Cassandra Crossing ? 1970's Classic train crash movie starring the very wonderful Sophia Loren !

    I love this channel and I'm looking forward to more videos in this series ! 👍🏻

  9. The one thing to note about Hollywood movie productions is that they have to spruce up the film with situations and drama that are figments of the imagination. If they didn't the movie would be more like a boring documentary which most thrill seekers would avoid paying admission to see.

  10. Can't believe people paid money to see that brain-dead liberal-socialist drivel.
    But I guess drooling morons are entitled to be catered to by Hollywood… just like they cater to politically correct zombies.
    …but then again…drooling morons and PC zombies are one and the same.

  11. 5:57 – It's pronounced Thor-old, not Tha-rold.
    Stupid tornado ended up dumping a chunk of that screen in my back field.

  12. A couple more for the list
    Apollo 13
    The Day After
    Jurassic Park
    Deepwater Horizon
    Night of the Living Dead (just joking)

  13. This was posted 4 months ago; have you done any reviews since? Great concept for your channel. I'd like to see your take on "The Day After Tomorrow." I love the movie and sincerely believe in the possibility of a rapid severe climate change. For fun and because they're such bad movies, Category Six and Category Eight would be good ones to review.

  14. Well, my biggest problem with Twister was that the tornadoes ALWAYS dissipated immediately after going over them, ALWAYS, and that just seems very convenient and unlikely. Otherwise, I LOVE Twister.

  15. Bill Paxton played creepy? I'm no aficionado of him or Hollywood in general, but I struggle to think of him in that capacity. In what films? Aliens? No. Apollo 13? Certainly not.

  16. I would ask for Sharknado, except for two reasons– 1, they're not trying to get it right, and 2, listing out everything wrong with it would be a video longer than the movie(s) itself.

  17. Twister is a fave, as I grew up in Texas and have lived in Oklahoma since 1991. Seen lots of storms, watched Gary England from 4pm through the night on May 3, 1999. Also watched in horror in May of 2013. There were several bad storms that month, with the El Reno storm being the worst. They were all bad though. But Twister was filmed partially in our town of Ponca City Oklahoma. So it was a big hit here.

  18. one thing I noticed is the young family of Helen Hunts was shown later on in the movie. I knew about the Toto project also. A lot of twister is done in a realistic way even if they got some things wrong, the most glaring that I noticed was the whole looking at a tornado and seeing how strong it is.

  19. Missed the biggest thing ever when they anchored themselves to pipes with belts that somehow saved them when the tornado passed over their heads otherwise good job

  20. As a storm chaser I feel I have to say this

    Storms can produce Tornados at night and it happens quite often
    Do better research please

  21. Fact checking the fact checkers: " radar to alert citizens. But this was also never invented until 1973". You mean Doppler radar. We've had a network of weather radars (without Doppler technology) going back to the 1950s. That clip from the film doesn't really focus on or say anything about Doppler though.

    "Tornadoes don't go through the night endlessly. They typically wane through the evening then start up again the following morning". There's lots one can nitpick in Twister, but this shouldn't be one of them. The film is portraying a high end tornado outbreak, and these events can and do go overnight. Tornado activity peaks in the early evening and slowly tapers off. It's at its lowest in the hours around dawn, only rising significantly as you approach noon. The way you've phrased this is kind of misleading because in reality tornadoes are just as likely at 11 pm as they are at 11 am. So the after dark tornadoes, when folks would be gathered at a drive-inn or settling in for the night, are totally plausible.

    A good chunk of the film's jargon is made up, and another good chunk of it is misused or out of context. Pointing out all the factual errors and technical mistakes is part of what makes Twister such an endearing classic for weather nerds and storm chasers.

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