Red Tornado The Movie
The KSWNO report on The Red Tornado Movie.
All the behind the scenes drama and controversy behind the failed production of the Red Tornado film. The Temperamental Elemental.
HOLLYWOOD – He was a trusted, valued member of the Justice League of America. He stood beside such awesome figures as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern in that mythic panthoen of heroes and, with the use of his awesome ability to control devastatingly powerful wind funnels, helped save the world time after time. His beginnings were humble, however, and his is the story of a tortured soul, warring against terrible odds and bitter adversity to better himself and his adopted world, striving for nothing more or less than the simple humanity that we all take for granted. It is a grand tale, a sweeping epic, full of love, loss and heroism, tragedy and triumph and android angst gone wild.
It is the story of Red Tornado and there can be little doubt as to the reasons that Hollywood studio executives have been clawing at each other for years for the rights to tell it.
Two years ago that battle ended when New Line Cinema finally won out with a record setting contractual arrangement that not only granted a monumental rights fee and profit percentage to the highly sought after hero but allowed for an astonishing amount of control over the production, including both script, director and cast approval and, in a move that rocked the very foundations of the Hollywood film community, required that Red Tornado himself assume the title role in his own biography.
Of course, studio heads at Paramount and Dreamworks were fired because of their failure to secure the rights to the film, but a buzz still existed that perhaps New Line had paid too high a price for their victory. Vice President of Project Development, Martin “Banjo” DeZulli defended the negotiation stridently in an interview in Variety published shortly after the aquisition was announced. “We’re quite comfortable in the concessions we gave to Mr. Tornado. I mean, who better to help tell this tale than the android who lived it? Charlie Kaufman is a talented writer but what does he really know about being two wind elementals trapped inside a mechanical body, battling for control? And honestly, who better to play the role than him? If his acting is wooden and stiff, so what? He’s a fucking android. It’ll be like Schwarzenegger in Terminator. You don’t need much range when you’re playing a jumped-up toaster oven.”
Famous Androids of the Cinema
The early stages of the production went exceptionally well. A script was comissioned from H.A. Milton author of Piranha II: The Spawning and early drafts were met with genuine enthusiasm. Meanwhile, the exhaustive search for a director that the Tornado would approve began in earnest. A host of early suitors, including Richard Jobson, Stuart Gordon and John Carpenter, had rejected for various nebulous reasons and producer Alan Frazettatberg began to openly question the android’s ability to judge talent. In response, the windswept hero would assert his power for the first time, as if to prove that he would not be intimidated by the Hollywood machine, choosing first time director Angus McCarrick to helm the project. McCarrick had little track record in film, having only directed music videos and spot episodes of Sealab: 2021 up to that point. The fact that his treatment of the Slag Bastard hit “What’s Up With Spotty?” had won Best Video Promoting Good Hygiene at the 2004 MTV awards inspired little confidence in the studio big wigs.
Casting proved to be just as difficult a process as McCarrick and the Tornado combed through Hollywood talent pools for what they considered to be exactly the right cast, trodding on the prideful feelings of many an A-List star in the process. Of course, Wilford Brimley had been the concensus choice early on for the role of T.O. Morrow, the evil scientist responsible for creating Red Tornado’s nigh-indestuctable mechanoid body, but beyond that the rest of the cast was a matter of fierce debate. Stars like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Hector Elizondo were rejected out of hand with abrasive, condescending laughter thrown into the faces of their agents. At one point Ben Affleck was brought in seemingly for no other purpose than the execution of a humiliating practical joke by the Tornado and the director in which he was forced to perform a scene dressed in nothing more than an adult diaper and turquoise body paint. Casting sessions took on a tense, angry tone in which auditioners were regularly subjected to unnecessary abuse and a number of wild brawls were known to have broken out, most notably when Kevin Bacon snapped completely and lunged at the pair with a table lamp.
The lengthy, painful process was finally completed, however and the following promo sheet was presented to studio executives mere days before filming was set to begin.
Red Tornado: The Movie
Written by H.A. Milton
Based on the Story by Red Tornado
Producer Alan Frazettaberg
Executive Producer Red Tornado
Directed by Angus McCarrick
- Red Tornado – as Red Tornado, the angst ridden android with a heart of gold and a knack for saving the entire goddamned world.
- Wilford Brimley – as T.O. Morrow, evil genius and devious supervillian who created the mechanical red Tornado as a means to destroy the Justice Society of America and compensate for a ridiculously small penis.
- Chris Makepeace – as John Smith, human alter-ego of Red Tornado, the simplistic guise into which he forced himself in his pathetic attempts simulate human existence and emotion. An astonishing dork.
- Shannon Tweed – as Kathy Sutton, confused romantic interest of Red Tornado in his human form. Tragically duped into believing that normal relations could be possible between a hot blooded, half-naked, sensuous she-vixen and a cold, anatomically incomplete mechanoid.
- Arisa Fung – as Traya, the Asian orphan adopted by the hero and Ms. Sutton, lost, innocent and forever traumatized by finding out her dad was an red, blue and yellow robot controlled by the spirit of an alien wind elemental.
- Bill Mumy – as Adam Strange, protector of Rann. Adversary then friend of the Tornado.
- Ving Rhames – as the voice of Star-God Aquarius, mad diety and galactic conqueror.
It was at this point that rumblings began in earnest about the judgement of all involved. The studio was thrown into a state of chaos, a mood of confrontational bitterness permeating the office corridors. Martin DeZulli reportedly left the country in extreme haste and has not since returned, choosing instead a life of petty crime somewhere in rural Switzerland. Casting Director Lila Chenkovski disappeared as well but was found after a period of three days in a trailer park in Pasadena, obscenely drunk and covered in fresh, overtly lewd body tattoos. She and the seven interns accompanying her were hospitalized and returned to sobriety just in time to be fired along with 26 other New Line employees associated with the project. In the end, studio heads Robert Shave and Michael Lynne barricaded themselves inside their War Room late in the evening the night before shooting was to begin with three fresh bags of Army Men and some yogurt covered pretzels and could be heard making desperate, pleading phonecalls to Peter Jackson.
The hulaballoo was for naught, however, as the iron clad contract that Tornado and his other-worldly lawyer, Mr. Mxyztplk had concocted allowed for the team to go ahead with shooting, full budget intact. It was on the set, though, that things would finally get truly ugly. Sources continue to argue that perhaps Ulthoon, The Tornado Tyrant was beginning to wrest control of the vermillion hero’s body away from The Tornado Champion once again and that the stresses of producing a mega-million dollar blockbuster film were too much for him. Regardless of reason, it soon became clear that things on the set were spiralling out of control.
Day one of shooting would set the tone for the entire working production. The Tornado and Angus McCarrick arrived on set three hours late, bleary eyed and smelling of alcohol with a completely revamped script apparently rewritten on the fly, literally, as the metallic superhero had flown himself and his director to Las Vegas for what they called a “creative therapy session”. The new script was a wild departure from the emotionally uplifting tale penned by H.A. Milton, who had mysteriously vanished the previous day and was rumoured to be somehow trapped in the Phantom Zone. The new script was full of violence, profanity and sex, a wild, hedonistic tale of a superhero on the edge, living fast and loving hard in a world full of merciless villains and tarnished heroes. McCarrick haughtily described it as “Pulp Fiction meets Short Circuit” or “Peckinpah directing Superman III“.
Shannon Tweed & Sam Peckinpah
By the end of that day the entire crew would be in a state of seething discontent as hours of bickering had destroyed any chance of getting any actual shooting in the can. A tentative schedule for the following day was made and a decidedly unhappy crew would catch a few hours of troubled sleep before returning the next morning. The chaos would continue unabated, however, as they would arrive on set to discover that the shooting schedule had been scrapped and redone yet again in order to move all of the newly written, exceptionally steamy love scenes to the first few days of filming. Shannon Tweed, when informed that the first scene involved her being ridden like a pony and spanked while wearing nothing but a slim leather harness, was suitably appalled, going so far as to throw her copy of the script in Red Tornado’s face while screaming, “I don’t care what you saw on Cinemax, I’m not doing it!”
Ripples of anger spread out from Ms. Tweed’s bold stand against the Tornado and his oddly compliant director and ground swell of rebellion began to take shape. Various members of the crew began to simply walk off the job with little more than a disdainful curse and wave of the hand. Others became unruly and berated the pair with outraged accusations and violent insults. Backed into a corner, confused and defensive, his years of humiliation and disrespect building withing him, Red Tornado was forced to an inevitable response. He exploded into assault mode, vast funnels of raging wind whipping from both his hands, a terrifying scream of elemental fury shattering the very air into a chaos of turmoil. Crew members were thrown mercilessly into nearby equipment. A grip was seen spiralling out of the location, airborne, into Chris Makepeace’s trailer where the force of his impact ripped an entire wall off of the luxury RV, exposing the stunned, lingerie clad actor in the act of applying fudge sauce to his nipples. Director of Photography Mallory Roebust was flung face first into Wilford Brimley’s midsection and the two exploded into the catering table. The stand-in for Bill Mumy, a special needs student from San Antonio named Edgar “Doo-Dog” Muckault who had won a contest in the back of a comic book to earn the job, was one of the few to stand his ground. Gritting his teeth and holding on to a railing he pulled himself to within a yard of the out of control superhero before the Tornado spotted him and blasted a cyclone directly into his nostrils, lifting him thrity feet into the air. The set was utterly laid to waste, countless crew and extras injured as the seemingly posessed android rose up on his wind spout, shouting with demonic defiance, “You dare disrespect Red Tornado, Hollywood!?! I will crush this town into rubble!!! It’s a twister Auntie Em!!!”
Then, amidst the sound of thrashing, whipping wind, suddenly the sound of thunder. Like the sky had cracked wide. And they were there.
The Silver Age JLA. Can you spot Red Tornado?
Here’s a hint. He’s in the backround…as usual.
The Justice League of America.
And they were pissed. They swooped from the sky like avenging angels, a blur of bold colors and crackling energy. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and The Martian Manhunter. The Big Guns of the superhero world. They pounced upon the Tornado and flattened him to the earth, quickly subduing the renegade mechanoid in a matter of seconds. Moments later the entire scene had been restored to order and emergency services were being administered to all injured parties. Angus McCarrick, found curled into a fetal ball and weeping, was being removed to a local hospital for phychological evaluation while the Justice League was attempting to question Red Tornado. Their queries were to no avail however because the android hero had seemingly shut himself down, answering all questions in a distant, buzzing automated voice with a repeated, “Your call is being forwarded to hell.”
Red Tornado had checked out and his film had fallen into ruins. Confused and angry studio officials quickly shut down production and began a desperate battle with insurance companies to recoup their losses. The rights to the story slipped into a legal limbo and none could accurately answer questions about the project’s future as, during a heated meeting with studio lawyers, Mr. Mxyztplk had been tricked into saying his name backwards and was banished once again to the 5th Dimension. Even Chris Makepiece stopped showing up on set. Red Tornado: The Movie was officially on indefinite hold.
So we asked some of his closest friends and associates in the Superhero world for their insight on the situation. What did they think of Red Tornado’s actions?
Green Arrow – “All I can say is ‘What the fuck, man?’ I mean, you’d think that a second rate character like him would just be happy to have any interest at all in such a fucked up origin story in the first place. My advice, RT or Ulthoon, whatever the fuck it is: take the money and run, don’t walk, to the fucking bank because about fifteen minutes from now it’ll be second banana time again.”
Martian Manhunter – “I sympathize with him deeply. His plight, forever severed from his people, his home, is one I am sadly familiar with. In addition, he’s trapped in an android form that is un- likely to be anatomicaly correct, denying him the pleasures that a metamorph like myself can enjoy. And I do mean enjoy. You would not believe the things I can do with my body. Really. It’s ridiculous.”
Black Lightning – “What? They gave that guy a movie deal? I guess you gotta be just about any color but black to get a Hollywood deal, huh? Ghost Rider, guy with his skull on fire? Green light. Fantastic Four, three crackers and and an ugly-ass walkin’ orange rock? Love it. Any white dude in grape smugglers gets his own blockbuster but guys like me? Back of the bus again, brother.”
The Vision – “This is quite simply absurd. Everyone knows that any interest Red Tornado has engendered over the years, and it’s been middling at best, is due to my own overwhelming popularity. I’ll be blunt. I was the original android superhero. It was I who defined the pathos of a tortured soul trapped in a mechanical body wanting nothing more than to find his humanity. This movie should be mine.”
Firestorm, The Nuclear Man – “Well. You might remember that RT and me joined the Justice League around the same time. We were new and the big guns wouldn’t really give us the time of day so we sort of hung out together. I was the closest thing he had to a friend in this business. But now? Since the movie? He won’t even return my calls. Do you guys have his cell number?”
It is apparent that the story of Red Tornado is indeed a tragedy in the classic sense. Like many of the great Greek tragedies, the tale features a hero with certain flaws that he cannot escape, flaws that seem to define his destiny and enable his downfall. Such is the case with this troubled red, blue and yellow android and the violent wind elementals that combine to create his persona. We can only hope that some day his story will be told and we can all be enlightened by it and that the cumulonimbus clouds of his angst will transform into a cool refreshing breeze, blowing all his troubles away.