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Twister (The Movie) Celebrates 25 Years in Wakita This Weekend!

9:08 AM EDT on May 12, 2021

Twenty-five years ago, Twister, the movie that put rural Oklahoma back on the Hollywood map—it was a long time since The Grapes of Wrath—opened up in theaters.

I saw it on opening night with my brother and a few of his friends at Penn Square Mall and, though I was immediately underwhelmed, everyone around me seemed to like it, including every single local weatherman on television at the time that was offered a slight cameo. Yes, that’s Gary England!

(To be fair, I did kind of like that Van Halen tune from the soundtrack, which was played ad nauseum that summer on the Rock 100.5 The KATT and other examples of local rock radio).

Chronicling a couple of advisory-heavy days where a string of F5 tornadoes destroys a good part of many small Okie towns, a recently split couple of weather-scientists—played by Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt—try to work on their relationship as evil storm-chasers are hot on their windswept tails. The Jan de Bont-directed flick was a worldwide hit; in Oklahoma, however, it became legend, especially in the small town of Wakita, which was practically destroyed in the film.

But it’s in the real Wakita where the Twister Museum, 101 W. Main Street, has sat for two-plus decades.

Possibly the only movie from Oklahoma to win a Blockbuster Award, the museum is celebrating the film’s 25th anniversary this Saturday, complete with, I guess, a corral of cows and other movie memorabilia. With Paxton, the museum’s biggest supporter, long dead, sadly it doesn’t seem as though any of the film’s other stars will show up. From KOCO:

“He was one of our favorite stars," Wade said. "He played football the whole time he was in Wakita and actually donated the football to the museum a few years after the movie.”

Paxton also generously donated a "Twister" pinball machine to the museum before he died.

While the stories of Paxton playing football with the kids during set-ups is oft-repeated lore in Oklahoma, I’ll probably always remember the drama teacher from my high school who claimed her big scene was cut out of the movie—one where she yelled “It’s a twister!” to no one in particular—even though I doubt it really ever happened. Can I see some deleted scenes at least?

Still, if you do make it out to Wakita this weekend, make sure to have pseudo-scientific fun, enjoy the bolted-down food-trucks and take plenty of pictures of cows or whatever else might be blowing in the wind. I’d go, but, until my proposed August: Osage County Ultimate Fighting Bouts commence, I’ll just wait for next year’s Footloose Celebration in Elmore City, a festival dedicated to a movie that had so much more of an influence in my life, sadly.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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