Spotlight : November 1997

The Secret's Out... Moo!
By Todd Vaziri

The single most memorable moment from 1996's TWISTER was Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton witnessing a flying cow, trapped in the fury of a vicious tornado. DeBont's 1997 directorial effort, SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL was not without its flying cows, either. What? You didn't notice it? Well, you weren't supposed to.

Many people within the visual effects industry knew of the in-joke Rhythm & Hues Studios inserted into one of their spectacular explosions, and now it is a matter of public record. Among the debris flying out of the oil tanker is a CG cow, flipping over and over within other bits of debris. It's quite hard to notice, if you're not looking for it, but once you know it's there, it's quite easy to see.

Just in case you're not planning on renting SPEED 2 on videotape or laserdisc,
here is a closeup of the particular shot from the film.

Roger Ebert revealed the in-joke in his "Movie Answer Man" column:

Q. Lightly sidestepping the reason why I went to see SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL, there was one part that really surprised me. During the final explosion on board that oil tanker, I was certain that, on the right-hand side of the screen, one of the bits of debris was distinctly cow-shaped. In fact, it looked suspiciously like the flying TWISTER cow. Is this true and just an in-joke, or were my eyes trying to bring some excitement to a dull film?

Julian Callinan, Melbourne, Australia

A. Congratulations on apparently being the first person to spot this in-joke inserted by the special effects wizards. Glenn Salloum, associate producer of SPEED 2 replies: "You have it right! The effects company of Rhythm & Hues added the cow into the second shot of the explosion as an homage to Jan de Bont and ILM's work on TWISTER. TWISTER's cow received so much attention that we thought it would be fun to keep the flying cow thing going in SPEED 2. It happens so fast and there really isn't a full shot so only a really keen eye will see it on the first or even second pass. You'll be happy to know, no cows were harmed in the making of SPEED 2."

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