WATROUS, Sask. – On a sultry summer day, the type that might blow up some nasty weather, travellers have stopped to see a combine dropped by the side of the road here by a twister.
That’s Twister, the movie, a Hollywood blockbuster that has been packing theatres across North America with audiences hungry for spectacular special effects.
They included terrifying scenes of tractors, trucks, cows and combines, including this one at Watrous Salvage Ltd., falling from the sky like so many hailstones.
Joe Henry looks out the open door of his used farm equipment parts business and smiles at the visitors as they eyeball the red combine. They are the reason he bought the 14-year-old International 1440 rotary combine and had it trucked from Kansas, where the movie was filmed, to this town about 100 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.
“I think it will bring some people to the community and create a little excitement and fun in the summer,” he said.
The story began a few weeks earlier when a supplier from the U.S. called out of the blue with an unusual proposition.
“He said ‘Would you like to buy the combine used in the movie Twister?’ Those were his exact words,” he said. “My answer was: ‘Yes, I want it.’ No hesitation.”
So Henry paid $8,100 for the machine and another $3,500 to haul it north.
“We were pretty lucky because it got here about five days before the movie opened at the local drive-in.”
With the theatre owner’s help, he got through to Warner Bros., the movie’s distributor and got posters, a screenplay and even a necktie with a scene from the show.
“They suspended it with a bungy cord underneath a big helicopter. Then they simulated a violent storm with dust blowing this way and that. Then they bounced the helicopter up and down which made the combine go ‘boing-boing’,” he said.
Although Henry’s combine is in the movie, the machine that crashes on a highway in front of the actors is an aluminum mock-up.
So far, he said the investment has been worth it. Lots of people have stopped by – particularly after they saw the movie at the drive-in.