The Bad Movie Report

In one of those bizarre confluences that seems to follow us around, Teleport City decided, at about the same time I did, to present a month of reviews focussing on movies featuring "Bad Asses". Be sure to click over there to enjoy their reviews of more Mean Mo Fo's. Bad Ass Month may be over, but the reviews keep coming; as editor Keith Allison likes to say, "it's not just a month, it's a way of life."

Rudy Ray Moore IS Dolemite inThe Human Tornado

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It's hard to admit that there are holes in your education; for instance, as I have indicated elsewhere, I have never seen an Andy Milligan movie (the shame!) Of course, one moves to repair such holes as soon as possible; so, to close out the first annual BMR Blaxploitation Month, and celebrate the Oscars, what better way than to finally watch a Rudy Ray Moore movie?

That last sentence probably made as much sense as The Human Tornado.

The Human Tornado The Poster
The Human Tornado The Poster
The Human Tornado The Poster

Now, I realize that The Human Tornado is a sequel, the sequel to Moore's tremendously successful Dolemite, and it is traditional to review movie series in order. There is a very important reason I chose The Human Tornado for my initiation into the world of Rudy Ray Moore: I already owned a copy of it.

But I was no fool. It is an important tenet of Mad Science, that when you experiment with anything, whether it be a New Life Form, or a Force of Nature, you do not do it alone. It is vitally important that you have an assistant on hand, preferably one who is smaller and weaker than you, so that if the New Life Form or Force of Nature starts to get cranky, you can hurl the assistant at the New Life Form or Force of Nature and get the hell out of there while the assistant is being torn asunder. Therefore I contacted Dr. Weasel, who had likewise never seen a Moore movie, and solemnly handed him the lab coat with the target drawn on back.

Our saga begins in the town of Chantilly, Alabama, where the corrupt, insane or evil (possibly all three) sheriff (J.B. Baron) and his posse of like-minded rednecks bust up a party simply because it is composed of black folk. Unfortunately for King Cracker, he finds his wife in bed with none other than Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore), the King of the Pimps. The sheriff orders his lackey to kill them both, but Dolemite pulls his patented roll-out-of-bed-butt-nekkid-and-grab-the-revolver move, and he shoots the Deputy (though, defying tradition, he did not shoot the Sheriff). Dolemite then jumps and rolls down a hill to his waiting car, wearing nothing but his floppy pimp hat. Just in case you may have missed this precursor to Jackie Chan, we are treated to an Instant Replay, while Moore exclaims, "So some of you think I didn't jump? Let's watch some more of this good sh*t!"

Instant Replay!So Dolemite gets away from the Insane Clown Posse basically by blowing up his own car, meaning that he and his entourage wind up walking back to California. Actually, we are informed by Teleport City (ask for it by name!) that there is a segment here involving a gay driver which has been scissored as being too offensive... what? Only now they're worried about being offensive?

In any case, after the titles, we are treated to an extended concert segment at one of Moore's shows... well, actually, several shows, to judge from the many costume changes the comedian goes through. Adding to the general air of disorientation is the fact that Moore's jokes and insults hurled at the audience - and all lovingly received, these guys like their Rudy Ray - is backed by the urgent beat of African drums, lending the proceedings a primal air. Add to that a fearsomely gyrating woman dancer, and you have some idea of the surreality of this part of the movie.

The segment also includes other performers and goes on for so long that Dr. Weasel and I became confused - not for the last time that evening. Perhaps that entire opening portion was like the traditional James Bond end-of-last-mission prologues? Or had the plot simply abandoned us, and was currently sitting at the local saloon, cackling at our naiveté?

Eventually, our questions were answered. No, that's not quite correct; we were given clues as to what was going on, and we put them together (again, not for the last time that night). These entertainment clips were performed at the club run by one of Dolemite's associates, Queen Bee (Lady Reed), and her venue is beating out the club run by small time mobster Cavaletti (Herb Graham). He sends some thugs to bust up the place, beat up Queen Bee, and kidnap two of the girls working there.

Enter (from the direction of Alabama) Dolemite and his entourage. Finding Queen Bee's club and house locked up and deserted, it's time for investigation, Dolemite style! And in the world of Dolemite, networking is done by nightclubbing. More performers performing! Dolemite finally tags up with old acquaintance Hurricane Annie (Glorya de Lani), Dancer Supreme, who feels that Cavaletti is behind all this. Journeying to Cavaletti's club, we immediately find out why Bee's club was beating it all hollow: after all the soulful tunes of that evening, we are immediately assaulted, after entering the mobster's club, by high-pitched BeeGees-style music. It was one of my bigger laughs of the evening.

Another reason why Rudy Ray Moore is a genius.Sure enough, Queen Bee and the rest of her people are being forced to work at Cavaletti's, and Bee reveals to Dolemite exactly why: those two girls are still being held hostage. Sure enough, we are whisked disorientingly to Cavaletti's torture chamber (I guess every mobster has one) where the girls are being tied to various deathtraps. Looks like it's time for Dolemite to swing into action! By which we mean it's time for Dolemite to take Hurricane Annie to bed.

The next day Dolemite finds out two important pieces of the puzzle: 1) Cavaletti has a House of Horrors somewhere in Pasadena, and 2) Mrs. Cavaletti has a yen for, shall we say, gentlemen of a duskier persuasion. This leads to Dolemite appearing at Cavaletti's doorstep in a doofy persona which would later be appropriated by Eddie Murphy, seducing Mrs. Cavaletti with the sheer erotic power of a black velvet painting. This in turn leads to the Dolemite version of the Vulcan mind meld: banging away at Mrs. Cavaletti while bellowing "Where's he taken my girls??!!" until she shrieks in ecstasy, "The house on the hill in Pasadena!" This sex scene steals a lot from The Exorcist: moving bed, slamming doors... even the roof itself falls in!

That evening, Cavaletti is holding his own birthday party, and commands Queen Bee to bring her crew over. Unknown to him, this is going to include Hurricane Annie and a host of Dolemite's kung fu-fightin' ho's. Dolemite himself takes this opportunity to besiege the House on the Hill in Pasadena (things I did not know: Pasadena has only one hill) all by his Take this, you evil white motherf*cker!lonesome, which is quite enough to handle Cavaletti's thugs.

This being a Dolemite movie, all of his fight scenes are speeded up, making them look like Buster Keaton by way of Bruce Lee. The mandatory whipcracks and other fu sounds are there, certainly, but the main draw is Moore's hilarious parody of the movements fighters make between attacks, full of dance moves, head jiving, and gobbling sounds. It must be seen to be truly appreciated. Not only is it funny as hell - but if I were up against a guy making all that bizarre noise, I would most likely run. Very quickly.

Anyway, Dolemite rescues the girls in the nick of time, and at Cavaletti's party, the entourage has entered disguised as caterers, and all hell breaks loose... and not in sped-up time, either. One of the guys on Dolemite's side is martial arts instructor Howard Jackson (who coached Moore in his fight scenes, which is why he moves so well). Jackson has a slight resemblance to Ted Lange, who played Isaac the bartender on The Love Boat; this caused us to wonder how Captain Stubing and Doc went so many years without getting their asses whupped.

Dolemite prepares to f*ck up more motherf*ckers.The fight scene is fairly lengthy and pretty good, actually; our favorite part was where they just let eight stunt people go at it and kept the camera rolling. After a while, however, Dr. Weasel asked the inevitable question, "Where is Dolemite?" "Probably in bed with some fahn woman," I answered. But no, Dolemite bursts in just in time to take care of Cavaletti's chief martial arts badass, then to capture the escaping mobster and drag him to his own chamber of horrors, where rats eat the evil gangster's private parts (owie!). As Dolemite proffers, "Dolemite is my name, and f*ckin' up motherf*ckers is my game." As far as personal codes go, it works well enough.

Did I mention that the psycho sheriff from the beginning is still tracking Dolemite all through the movie? He is, and finally catches up to our hero, shooting him in the back six times. Leaving the motionless King of the Pimps behind, the sheriff drives back to Alabama... never seeing Dolemite take off his bulletproof vest and laugh. The end.

We've talked before about movies that open a trapdoor under you, and suddenly you find yourself in a strange world with no discernible landmarks; movies like Eraserhead and Drunken Wu Tang. Not only because I'm coming from a thoroughly bleached-white mindset - though that's certainly part of it - but the editing is so... so..... well,Meanwhile, on Cinemax... watching The Human Tornado is like watching satellite TV, but you've left the remote in the hands of a hyperactive chimpanzee who hasn't taken his Ritalin in several days. There are no real transitions between segments, so there is the constant, eerie feeling of random channel surfing.

The revelation that Mrs. Cavaletti likes black men? Click! We find ourselves in Mrs. Cavaletti's wet dream, in which nude black musclemen climb in an endless line from a toybox! When did we flip to Cinemax after midnight? Click! Apropos of nothing, Dolemite sneaks around behind a dilapidated house at night *... what? Is Blair Witch Project still on Pay-per-view? A witch suddenly shows up at the very end. Huh? Once more, our friends at Teleport City come to our rescue - apparently, the witch runs Cavaletti's Chamber of Horrors, and her earlier scene must have been cut. There are a lot of obvious ham-fisted cuts on my Xenon tape, made obvious as they are the kind of cuts that leave a few telltale frames behind. I opined that surely, all this lost footage would resurface in the Restored Director's Cut DVD, and Dr. Weasel began to whimper.

I'm evil!  AND crazy!Past the editing, the story is not too well told... not that it was ever that complicated in the first place... and the characters amusingly cardboard. The white folk are all earnestly evil. And I don't mean evil in a grandiose way, like Hannibal Lector, or even evil in a petty way, like the IRS. No, I mean evil in the H.G. Lewis way. I haven't seen so many wide-eyed, grinning, giggling crackers since Two Thousand Maniacs! Should this lead to some sort of race-based polemic? Oh, hell, no. This is a comedy, for God's sake. Lighten up.

Also notable: it bugged us for a long time, but we finally confirmed it: included in Dolemite's entourage is a very young, shaven-headed Ernie Hudson (billed here as Louis Hudson). Ernie's fun in the fight scenes, using his shiny Head of Death to headbutt opponents to oblivion (once, when he is punched by a woman, Ernie declines to return the favor; he merely picks her up bodily and begins to spank her. Snap judgment: Ernie paid Rudy to be in this movie). If you still have trouble spotting him (and you shouldn't): Ernie's the one who actually gets to act when his brother takes a bullet for Dolemite in the big fight scene.

The final verdict for any movie rests with the very simple question: Was I entertained? The answer here is a resounding yes. Dolemite doin' what Dolemite does best.Rudy Ray Moore never did anything the easy way, it seems, and his movies are as determinedly outside the mainstream and the 'normal' way of doing things as his stage act and party tapes. This lends them a gritty, homegrown quality that actually serves to grab your attention, rather than your displeasure. And the man's heart was big enough to plug his friend's acts through his movies, which says an awful lot about him.

This movie has also entered the phrase "rat soup-eating motherf*cker" into my vocabulary, for better or worse. For several days afterward, I was filled with a burning need to call someone, anyone, a rat soup-eating motherf*cker. Which made things a bit dodgy when I had that meeting with our minister. But sometimes, that's just the price you have to pay for entertainment.



Watch the damn movie, you rat soup-eatin' motherf*cker.

- March 26, 2000


Teleport City