Film: The Big Whoosh

Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.

Outside magazine, June 1996

Film: The Big Whoosh

Jan De Bont find star power in Mother Nature’s wrath
By Johnny Dodd

His last movie dealt with a psychotic who threatened to blow up a bus. Now
director Jan De Bont (Speed) takes on an equally madcap topic: killer tornadoes. In Twister, just released by Warner Brothers, he serves up cyclones by the dozens–some bona fide acts of God filmed on the tornado-attracting plains of Iowa and Oklahoma, others created by special-effects experts. Wondering whether De Bont
was going to do for the raw power of nature what he did for Sandra Bullock, we asked him how things went on the killing fields of Tornado Alley.

So who’s got better tornadoes, you or The Wizard of Oz?

Theirs was very different from ours. They used a pair of ladies’ stockings. One leg was mounted from the top and bottom on little movable tracks, and they blew air through it. If you did that today, nobody would believe it.

Then how, exactly, did you make yours?

We had two 747 engines mounted on big trailers to recreate the wind. It worked great, except that when actors spoke their lines, leaves would fly into their mouths.

Any big problems, other than being in the path of real-life twisters?

Once we got lost in a huge cornfield. The corn was seven or eight feet tall. We were driving around in circles for hours. Now that was pretty scary.

promo logo