Fun pre-film fact: one of the trailers on this DVD was for a film called “The Preacher’s Daughter”, one of those wonderfully earnest pro-religion films made by church front companies. It was so out of place that I kept expecting them during the film itself to go “well, we’ve tried everything else, what about prayer?” but I was sadly disappointed.
Jeff Fahey, star of “100 Degrees Below Zero”, is seemingly working for anyone at the moment. I’m not saying he had the greatest agent in the world before, but I think his voicemail nowadays must go “if you’re calling about work, the answer is yes”. How else to explain a film called “Alien Tornado” that DOESN’T HAVE ANY DAMN ALIENS IN IT
Calm down, Mark. One good thing about this film is that it kicks off fairly quickly, establishing the evil tornadoes along with the central relationship in the film between Fahey, as a farmer who’s down on his luck; and Stacey Asaro as his high-school daughter who’s desperate to get out of this small town and off to college in Chicago. They both look like they were cast for this film years ago and it kept getting delayed until they were both too old to play the parts, but it went ahead anyway – Asaro is 25 and Fahey is 60.
Rounding out the film’s main cast is Kari Wuhrer, who in a better, more just world would have been cast as Lara Croft in a pre-Jolie “Tomb Raider” movie as she combines being a believable love-interest lead with looking like she could kick ass. Instead, she got a few seasons on “Sliders” and is now reduced to appearing in, what I just discovered after thinking I’d escaped one, a SyFy Channel original movie. Why do you torture me so, SyFy?
So, these two groups are brought together by mysterious tornadoes appearing above government institutions, army bases, power stations and the like. They’re unusual in that they are black, with weird flashing green lights inside, and this is enough to bring Wuhrer from her big city meteorologist / reporter / storm chaser job, as well as pique the interest of some shady Government agents, who dress in black jumpsuits with little red stripes on one arm. They look like they’re wearing outfits that the band Devo rejected for being too dumb, but I’ll let that one slide. The main man of the agents is a Malcolm MacDowell-wannabe who fills this film’s quota for soft-spoken verbose psychopaths (although he does have an interesting character arc).
Fahey’s first meeting with the government guys is ridiculous. He’s driving, sees the tornado up ahead then sees a black SUV go flying past him. He catches up to try and warn them, sees they’re all uniformed guys who look like they know what they’re doing, then they speed up away from him again. His response to this is to try and run them off the road for absolutely no reason whatsoever, endangering the life of his daughter in the passenger seat too. Huh?
Wuhrer gets her hacker friend to decode some mysterious signal they record coming from one of the tornadoes, and to the surprise of no-one who saw this film under its original title (it was renamed “Tornado Warning” for its DVD release in Europe, presumably because the distributor saw it and thought “why the hell has this got alien in its title, there’s none of them in it”) the tornadoes are either aliens or under the control of aliens – it’s never really made clear. They’ve been on earth for some time, apparently, but they’ve only recently become violent, with tendrils coming off the tornado to scoop the occasional unlucky person up. The government guys realise they can either keep it under wraps and kill the people who know about the aliens, or help Wuhrer and co and damn their evil orders, a matter which becomes more pressing when it’s discovered the tornadoes are headed for Chicago and could kill millions.
Given that the bad guy in this is some wind, the ending manages to be fairly decent. We do get to see Bernie from “Weekend at Bernie’s” (yes, the corpse) in a rare living role, which caused me and my wife to spend several of the quieter moments of this film debating what happened in “Weekend at Bernie’s 2”. Did they store him in a fridge between movies? Does the second one start the instant the first one ends?
Anyway, it ends with all being resolved. Dad had to use the daughter’s college fund to repair his farm at the beginning of the film, which causes conflict (obviously), but as she’s a national hero thanks to her uploading her exploits on Youtube, she gets an offer from an overseas college with a full scholarship. Wuhrer, whose main job is running a weather website, decides she can do it from Fahey’s farm just as well as from the big city, and despite sharing basically no scenes all the way through the film, having zero chemistry, one of them being a gorgeous celebrity and the other an old farmer, they kiss and all is well.
Literally up to the last few minutes of the film, part of my brain was waiting for some aliens to appear and do anything at all, but sadly no. It has inspired me to write my own film though, called “An Entirely Off-Screen Dracula Tries To Kill Teens With Remote Control Planes”. Look out for it in cinemas near you soon.