Let me start out by saying that I know more about the original RED DAWN than anyone you've ever met.

Let me also state that there are no conditions, no crew, no cast, no story possible that will allow any remake of RED DAWN to be anything more than a callow, derivative attempt to cash in on what was a perfect storm of cultural confluence.

I wrote this about three years ago:

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Dude. I haven't really seen Red Dawn since I was in maybe tenth grade. Certainly not since I was a student of film... And now it's playing on AMC. My god. What a masterpiece. From the metallc blue lifted Chevy stepside asshole truck with the chrome light bar to the allegorical discussion of the Mongol hordes from the Only Black Man in Rural Colorado to the opening cards about the Green Party winning in Germany and "NATO stands alone" to frickin' Sandinistas firing rocket launchers at school buses...

Milius is a genius.

An evil genius to be sure... I don't know of any movies that say "it's Morning in America" quite like Red Dawn. I mean, the opening is stolen from Superman; the title font is the same one they used for Flashdance. I seriously doubt Red Dawn could have been released before the 1984 election season or after Eugene Hasenfus was shot down... that's about a 27 month window that Red Dawn barely managed to slide into.

Someday, somewhere, somehow, someone is going to write a scholarly essay on Red Dawn and how it epitomizes culture and politics in the Reagan era. And I will read it and love it. The thing that amazes me is that Kevin Reynolds (one of my all-time favorite directors, Kevin Costner be damned) wrote it as an anti-war allegory... and Milius sure as hell didn't see it that way. "Avenge me, boys! AVENNNNGE ME!" I think Red Dawn remains the only movie that Delta Press ever consulted on. It's GOTTA be the only one Al Haig consulted on. Bloody marvelous.

It's kind of what The Breakfast Club would have looked like if it were directed by Leni Riefenstahl. The silly thing was actually filmed really close to my house when I grew up and I still can't believe they made it. The fact that a movie that features Lea Thompson with an AK-47 was #1 at the box office within my lifetime really gives me hope for the future. If we survived the Cold War in one piece, surely the War on Terror is nothing to fear.


That's all for now. I gotta go buy me a poster.

"All that hate's gonna burn you up, kid."

"It keeps me warm."


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Kevin Reynolds wrote the script TEN SOLDIERS while he was a grad student at USC. It was modeled after Philip K Dick's "The Man in the High Castle" and described an alternate reality in which the Soviets invaded the United States. As with most things from USC at the time it got sent up the tentpole, where John Milius (who wrote most of the grand-standing speeches you know from APOCALYPSE NOW - "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning", JAWS - Quint's speech, and the sum total of CONAN THE BARBARIAN) decided that the goddamn liberal hippies running Hollywood needed a little book learnin' about the goddamn Red Menace.

RED DAWN was produced in association with Reagan's Secretary of State, then just two years out of office:


Technical consulting was done by Delta Press:


And what we're left with is essentially a John Hughes film with machine guns and rocket launchers.

RED DAWN would never even have been considered if Ronald Reagan wasn't president. It certainly wouldn't have been considered once Iran-Contra broke. The whole demeanor of the film is Alexandr Nevsky - a big, brash, bodacious warning to Enemies of the Motherland that if you cross us, we will fuck you up. By the time Ollie North took the stand, it was abundantly clear that the Soviets were getting their asses kicked by a bunch of Mujahedeen, the Berlin Wall was dead man walking and the Hooah attitude that the Republicans had been using to sap the treasury in the name of defense was going to bankrupt us all.

The remake of RED DAWN, by comparison, was shelved halfway through production while MGM retrenched. It was written by nobody, stars nobody, and has had no involvement from anyone with any sort of an ax to grind. You're right - North Korea as an invader of the United States is simply not credible. They would have done better with Mexican narco gangs. Chris Helmsworth, for his part, is Thor. Josh Peck is irrelevant. And the new movie will never have Lea Thompson firing an M60. Ever.

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If you want to see what Kevin Reynolds actually had in mind when he wrote TEN SOLDIERS, you can see what he does with a Russian tank crew in Afghanistan. THE BEAST is one of my all-time favorite films. It's about the Taliban back when they were the Mujahideen, who also happened to be our allies:



If it's that "morning in america" feel you're going for, you can always mix in a little Clint Eastwood:



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Apropos of nothing, the original RED DAWN was filmed an hour from my house growing up. They ran ads on the radio for people to come down and be extras. My dad wouldn't let me - in reflection, probably not too surprising as RED DAWN was the first movie ever granted a PG-13. That said, it was the first event that made me realize that even a punk-ass kid from New Mexico could be in movies if he wanted to be... and may very well have paved the way for me working in Hollywood today.

on post: Remembering 1984's Red Dawn and worried about the 2012 Remake
by kleinbl00 3218 days ago   ·   link  ·    ·