In one of those bizarre confluences that seems
to follow us around, Teleport
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."
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?
last sentence probably made as much sense as The Human Tornado.
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.
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.
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!"
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?
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.
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
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
(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.
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.
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
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 lonesome,
which is quite enough to handle Cavaletti's thugs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
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
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.
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.
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.
final verdict for any movie rests with the very simple question: Was
I entertained? The answer here is a resounding yes. 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
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.