Sunday, April 05, 2009
Given the usual incoherence of the morning I’m surprised I heard the banging. It was a sound from outside, it seemed, or maybe not, maybe inside. The origination was not immediately clear. An odd discombobulation of the ears reigned, a jolting rush of confusion threatening to capsize the day. Then a realisation, faint but not indiscernible: the sound, it’s coming from below, down the stairs, at the front door. Quizzically I slid down the stairs, the banging ever present. What wild ruckus is ensuing beyond the door? Should I risk showing my face? Am I to be met with death, is this the inevitable moment of my demise? Is my procrastinating walk only solidifying the nastiest facets of my execution?Then the door is in front of me, hand reaching for the handle, pulling back to permit the light.A man stands in the doorway, a flurry of sweat and dreadlocks. A large red satchel hangs off his shoulder, full of padded envelopes. The scorn etched on his face seems not likely to fade.“Are you Mr Aaron?” he barks.“I am.”“You’re a hard man to get hold of!” he returns, one hand thrust into his bag.A head devoid of words is a poor condition for the music of conversation, even the sweet warble of friendly badinage has trouble springing to life.“I, uh, you’ve…what?”“I’ve always the packages for you…you’re never in – man, packages for you,” he says lifting a grey box out of his bag.“I’m here now, what is it?”“A package – for you!” he yells without hesitation. “Take – and sign this.”A box in one hand, delivery form in the other, a pen slid under the thumb, I playing the balancer as my signature struggles into motion. The courier’s angry glare causes my skin to freckle.Squiggle down, I give back the form. His return to the road is instantaneous, his feet a speedy blur. A soundless insult tears through the air, his gaping mouth the only proof of something said. I stifle my cries and retreat into the fortress. The morning’s annihilation is truly complete, gone is the gentle caress of semi-sentience, gone is the clawing urge to yawn away the day. Day has begun, no ambiguities remain. And what’s more, day now has meaning, for a glistening DVD lies in the palm. The name of that DVD is Tornado! starring Bruce Campbell.The promises are infinite, they occupy a bottomless of abyss of wisecracks and hilarious side glances. Potential, too, is well in abundance, stretching far into the horizon. Pre-packaged kudos, Tornado! finds itself cloaked in a great swarm of it. Imminent respect, love and lust are the promises of a Bruce Campbell film. His glorious name bestows on the most obviously dire pieces of cinema the chance of rebirth – cocoons of crud giving way to butterflies of watchability. He provides motivation where there might not be any, engendering reasons to view a film clearly made as a cheap cash-in on a more popular film.Bruce Campbell is a beacon of truth. You’ll never carry pretence into one of his films, for he builds coruscating worlds that ostentation cannot assail. Most of his films are perfect examples of ‘it is what it is’ – we know the narrative and the characters, the setting and the outcome. No need to enrich matters with hyperbole or words of misdirection. Laid out naked is a story arc oblivious to experimentation, uninterested in striving for innovation. Bruce Campbell says: ‘you know what this is, I know what this is, but I’ll try and make it as fun as I can.’ He is the antidote to fame’s most nauseating proponents and affiliates, a man of honesty and decency. The proletarian actor par excellence.Tornado! – also known in a different form as Twister – follows the actions of a hip young crew of meteorologists who live in the Texas area. Their hobbies include chasing tornadoes and barn dances. They dream of one day being able to accurately predict the appearance of tornadoes. Visions of saved lives and hot girls propel their scientific inquiries. Liquor deliria and trips to the zoo help them retain their sanity.Bruce Campbell plays Bill Paxton, thrill-seeking leader of this band of maniacs. His chin feeds their lust for domination, tilting upwards when the reek of a tornado hangs in the air. He gives legitimation to their cause through his rugged features and array of checked shirts. Ernie Hudson smiles wistfully at Bruce, unsettled by the throbbing desire he holds for the man, a desire undiminished by years of meteorological comradeship.A girl arrives, foretelling another Bruce-related coupling. Shannon Sturges, eyes attractive enough to ensnare Bruce, points forward in time to Chase Masterson, Bruce’s female partner in Terminal Invasion. They are linked across space, time and who knows what else by a common generational beauty and the kind of denim energy that usually dies a death in the graveyard of TV drama.A tornado arrives, Derek I think it’s called. It roams across the plain, skirting about the place in an over-hyped dance of destruction. Roofs become airborne, livestock disappear, a housewife falls over. Normality sits crouched and crying. Cut to break.Back from break: fire crews trudge through fallen walls, an engine roars an ambience unsettling but appropriate. Bruce Campbell/Bill Paxton shows up, open-top jeep, or not, and casts sympathy over the luckless locals. ‘I will get that fucking tornado, so I will,’ he declares.Into the night he runs, jeep and cronies in tow. Helen Hunt or someone answers questions by the side of the road, a ghastly interruption. The tornado is sighted. It swirls menacingly. Bruce runs, the foulest revenge on his mind. A jeep follows slowly behind. The tornado veers to the left and sees him. Now it moves towards him, he towards it. An epic showdown is materialising, reality splintering to accommodate the inevitable disappointment. Clouds gather, Bruce is in the eye, the tornado sways to and fro. Drama plays out in a toneless picture of wind and rain. Combat continues into minutes, time getting more and more bloated. Hospitalisation can be the only result. Bruce takes his dagger and slices the tornado in two. The swirling menace decelerates into nothing. Bruce stands victorious, love is his prize. Ernie Hudson, Helen Hunt and Chase Masterson run to hug him, all united in a sentimental expression of man’s mastery over the weather.