• Human Tornado, The

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: May 31st, 2016.
    Director: Cliff Roquemore
    Cast: Rudy Ray Moore, Ernie Hudson, Jimmy Lynch, Lady Reed, Jerry Jones
    Year: 1976
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    The Movie:

    Rudy Ray Moore himself sums up the plot of this second Dolemite film quite succinctly when he says at the beginning of the movie:

    “He caught me with his wife now he wants to take my life! He thinks he’s bad! He’s got no class! I’ll rock this shotgun up his muthafuckin’ ass!”

    The story, such as it is, once again puts Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore) front and center in a crazy plot that mixes up Moore’s live performances with ridiculous kung-fu action and trashy sexploitation elements. This time around, Dolemite is busted playing games with the wife of a sheriff who runs his black ass right out of town! Never one to shy away from the camera, Moore goes full frontal here in his escape, tumbling down a big hill and then into a car for a wonky chase scene where he’s chased by a bunch of racist cops. The gay guy who owns the car that Dolemite and his posse (one of whom is a pre-Ghostbusters Ernie Hudson!) commandeer doesn’t seem to mind at all – but hey, political correctness never once factored into this movie. Never. Once.

    This brings our hero back to his old Los Angeles stomping grounds. Once he’s back in town, he learns that a mob boss named Caveletti (Herb Graham) has been making things tough for his old friend, Queen Bee (Lady Reed). He’s not only taken over her nightclub, but he’s snatched up all of her girls and is holding them hostage. Dolemite puts together a team of his best and most loyal associates to head out into the wilds of the suburbs to get those girls back. In order to do that, he’ll have to make time with Mrs. Caveletti (Barbara Gerl) and systematically eliminate a small army of the gangster’s well-armed thugs!

    Lots of action and stupidity make this ridiculous film a whole lot of fun to watch, so long as you’re not one with particularly sensitive viewing needs. Moore’s second Dolemite picture not only plays up gay stereotypes but sees the man himself impersonating a Chinese guy at one point, when he tires his hand at selling erotic artwork door to door! Why? Because he can. And so he did. The movie doesn’t make much sense and the plot doesn’t really kick in until about the half way mark but it is what it is and what it is, well, it’s nuts. That’s what it is. The film is considerably more over the top than the first Dolemite film and while it’s all over the place with its tone (some of the violence is pretty strong and parts of the finale take place in a pretty sinister torture dungeon!), it’s a blast. And if you have an affinity for seeing Rudy Ray Moore doing his thing on stage, well, so much the better because there’s a lot of that footage in here, presumably to pad out the running time of a fairly thin storyline and/or to appease the man’s fondness for seeing himself on the big screen.

    The cast are in fine form here. Lady Reed reprises her role from the first movie and plays the classy madame part well enough. Her delivery is occasionally more than a little bit stilted, well, that’s okay, we sort of expect it at this point. Herb Graham is pretty fun as the main bad guy and Barbara Gerl plenty fun cast as his perpetually horny wife. Throw in Ernie Hudson, world Karate Champion Howard Jackson (cast as himself) and Rudy Ray Moore film regular Jimmy Lynch and this one shapes up to be a lot of ridiculous fun. And dig that theme song (where Moore pronounces Tornado as Tore-nay-duh over and over again). Good luck getting that one out of your head once you hear it.


    Presented on a 50GB Blu-ray disc restored from the original 35mm negative in 2k, The Human Tornado makes its high definition debut from Vinegar Syndrome in AVC encoded 1080p framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. Like their recent release of Dolemite, this new transfer vastly improves over the old DVD from Xenon. Detail is considerably stronger and the colors really pop throughout the movie, especially when those flashy fashions are on display. Some minor print damage still shows up and the movie still looks like the low budget, fast and cheap production that it was, but the improved clarity, texture, detail and depth go a long way here. There are no problems with compression artifacts, obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement and as is so often the case, Vinegar Syndrome have once again offered up a really nice, film-like transfer.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track, which comes with optional subtitles in English only, also gets a pretty noticeable upgrade from past releases on home video. There is still some occasional hiss and some level bounces now and again but for the most part the track is nicely balanced and quite clear. The music sounds a lot stronger here than it did on the DVD while the dialogue is always perfectly audible and quite clear.

    Extras start off with another informative commentary track from Mark Murray, who would be Rudy Ray Moore's biographer, who is joined by the film’s co-star Jimmy Lynch. This is a really fun track, with Lynch more than happy to share every memory he’s got form the shoot - and he’s got a lot. He worked with Moore on most of his films so he knew the man quite well. This gives him the chance to share some pretty intimate recollections of working with him, while Murray does a great job of keeping him on target and engaged in the discussion. Between the contributions of the two commentators we learn about the stunts, some of the locations, the cast and how certain members wound up in the feature in the first place, and quite a bit more. This is a great addition to the disc and definitely worth taking the time to dig into if you’re a Dolemite or Rudy Ray Moore fan.

    The disc also includes an audio interview with the film’s director Cliff Roquemore and martial arts champion Howard Johnson, both (separate) pieces conducted by Murray. Roquemore passed away well over ten years ago so including this piece here definitely gives this release some historical value. He speaks about working with Moore on the feature, his dealings with cast and crew and quite a bit more. Johnson’s interview is also interesting, as he talks about how he wound up in this movie in the first place and also shares some fun memories of the shoot. Complimenting this is the second installment of the "I, Dolemite" documentary that more or less picks up where the segment included on the first film’s Blu-ray release left off. Archival bits with Moore are included and a kick to see, while we also get some input from cinematographer Nicholas von Sternberg, Cliff Roquemore’s sons and, yes, even Ernie Hudson (who shares some great stories about some of the action scenes and his involvement or non-involvement in them). Murray is here again to put this all into context and to offer some historical insight and contextual analysis to the piece.

    The disc also includes Der Bastard, which is basically an alternate audio track for the feature that plays over the new transfer. Why does this matter? Because it’s a German dubbed version of the movie and it’s completely surreal watching this movie in that form. There aren’t any subtitles provided, so you don’t really know what’s being said, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Seriously, be sure to give this version a shot – hearing Moore’s live stage performances presented with German audio over top is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.

    Outside of that, the disc also includes an original radio spot for the film, the original theatrical trailers for both The Human Tornado and for Dolemite as well, the film’s soundtrack as an isolated audio track, animated menus and chapter selection.

    As this is a combo pack release, the clear Blu-ray case also holds a DVD disc for the film. Wrapping all of this up is a reversible cover sleeve featuring slick new original cover artwork by Jay Shaw on one side and the original one sheet art on the flip side.

    The Final Word:

    The Human Tornado will leave you wondering just what the Hell Rudy Ray Moore was thinking when he made this movie, and at the same time very glad indeed that he thought it. The film is a beautiful mess, an ego project wrapped up with Blaxploitation and action movie elements, plenty of odd sleaze and more of Moore’s trademark live schtick – but even when it doesn’t work, it works perfectly. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release presents the film in excellent shape and with a ton of great extras. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Nabonga's Avatar
      Nabonga -
      This film is an accidental masterpiece. Flawless entertainment. Have this preordered and I can't wait until it gets here.