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Best Tornado Movies (& TV Episodes)

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I am scared, yet fascinated by tornadoes. I own a weather radio so I can be the first one on the block into my basement. I have reoccurring dreams about tornadoes.

Starring Bruce Campbell* and Ernie Hudson. This was a made-for-TV movie on FOX. It is low-budget and filled with tornado movie clichés, like the scientific equipment that will solve the mysteries of tornadoes once and for all, if only they could get it in the path of the Big One. Also the cliché that an old person must die in the tornado. In Tornado!, that unlucky soul is grandpa. This movie is enjoyably watchable because of Campbell and Hudson. Hudson is the likeable and naive scientist. Campbell is a storm chaser who gets to flirt with the blond leggy government agent and punch out a douchebag weatherman. Classic Bruce Campbell.

Night of The Twisters

Starring John Schneider and a pre-Final Destination Devon Sawa. This was a made-for-TV movie for the Family Channel. Night of the Twisters follows a group of kids who must navigate a night full of tornadoes while trying to reunite with their parents. It features a subplot of the dysfunctional family nature. Sawa’s character feels alienated by his step-father Schneider who only cares about athletics and winning. By the end of the night (and the movie), son has earned step-father’s respect. The token storm chaser who arrives in town just in time for all the excitement finds love. In this movie, they say goodbye to grandma.

Where The Heart Is**

Starring Natalie Portman and Ashley Judd. Natalie Portman has a baby at Wal-mart. ‘Nuf said. The tornado hits the trailer Novalee (Portman) lives in several years later. The tornado kills Novalee’s mother figure. I have read the book, and I must say the movie follows the book very closely, with the exception of Novalee’s unlucky number. I really think they cast the role of Forney all wrong. I do not like the actor who plays him at all.
WKRP in Cincinnati – Episode “Tornado”

I truly love the episode where the tornado hits Cincinnati. Following the “tornadoes always hit trailer parks” cliché (which I love, because I lived in one), Johnny Fever (Howard Hessman) relates a story about being in a trailer in a tornado with his mom when he was a boy. Andy Travis (Gary Sandy) gets to kiss Jennifer (Loni Anderson). You get to see one of Mr. Carlson’s (Gordon Jump) truly sweet moments when he talks a little girl into the safety of her basement just in the nick of time.

Now, you might notice the omission of the big budget theatrical release Twister. That is because it sucks. One flying cow does not a tornado movie make.

* Not to name drop, but I have met Bruce Campbell in person–twice. And he knows the late husband of my mom’s former best friend.

** I had my own Where The Heart Is moment one night. It was probably spring 2000, and I was leaving Wal-Mart after having just bought a grill for my apartment. As I walked to my car, the tornado sirens for Madison Township (where I currently was) went off. The sky to the southwest was absolutely black. I got in my car and headed for home. I had to stop for a red light and I watched the dark sky in my review mirror. I told myself that if I saw the roof of the Kmart just behind me fly off, I was going to run the light. I ended up going to my mom’s nearby apartment instead, because I got scared and didn’t want to drive home in that storm.

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