Share good ideas and conversation.   Login, Join Us, or Take a Tour!
comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  2679 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Remembering 1984's Red Dawn and worried about the 2012 Remake
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:

* * *

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."


* * *

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.

* * *

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:

* * *

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.

mk  ·  2676 days ago  ·  link  ·  
So I watched it again. It is exactly what I rememebered it to be. It doesn't take more than 5 minutes before their teacher is gunned down and they are heading for the hills.

What I didn't remember was Robert's suicide by helicopter. They guy was just played-out, I suppose. He had gone to the other side with the execution of Daryl, and knew that there was no going back.

I also was struck by how weak the ending was. Supposedly, Jed and Matt are creating a distraction by going A-team on the Cubans and Russians while Danny and Erica escape to Free America (FA), but given that they were in the mountains, I don't see how attacking the town would have been necessary for them to cross more mountains. I suppose they needed a climatic fight, but it seemed totally unecessary. Maybe it was suicide too.

It did awaken some memories I had as a kid, terrified of WW3, but mostly it was just over-the-top and fun. "Avenge me boys! Avenge me!" -Holy crap.

Too bad that Jennifer Gray got a nose job. It really worked for her.

kleinbl00  ·  2676 days ago  ·  link  ·  
As dramas go, it's less than brilliant. Also keep in mind: it started life as a Lord Of The Flies exploration of the evils of war, and ended life as a pro-Reagan paean to violence. There's gonna be some whiplash in there.

From a screenwriter's standpoint, you're in a tough spot: you've got a bunch of teenagers fighting off the Russians, when the American Military can't do the same. There's no good way to resolve that. The smart move would be to say "we're breaking for the frontlines" from the get-go but then you don't get to harry the evil occupiers of Calumet.

Like I said, there were about 27 months that that movie could reasonably have existed in in the entire history of the United States. That movie doesn't get made in 1983, it doesn't get made in 1987. And that's what I love about it - it's not a brilliant work of fiction, it's a cultural anomaly that outlines the insanity of the Reagan era better than most.

mk  ·  2676 days ago  ·  link  ·  
That book looks hilarious.

Don't get me wrong, it was great to watch it. It's one of those movies that is burned into my psyche. Probably because it was placed at such a rare moment in time. -Red Dawn and War Games.

Funny, I mentioned to my buddy that it had strong notes of 'Lord of the Flies', particularly with Robert's transformation.

kleinbl00  ·  2676 days ago  ·  link  ·  
War Games: Hollywood's first attempt at Cyberpunk. I've always wondered what that movie would have looked like with, say, Tony Scott at the helm instead of John Badham.
mk  ·  2675 days ago  ·  link  ·  
I had to look them up. I had no idea that Ridley Scott had a little brother director. Looking at their work, neither one really grabs me. Except for True Romance by Tony Scott. That was a pretty great film, -at least I remember it as one. Gotta love Brad Pitt taking a back seat to Christian Slater.

Another movie from 1984 that stuck with me was Cloak & Dagger. Maybe it was because the roleplaying game in the beginning, or the video game tie-in. I loved that about E.T. It also had that Home Alone meets the Cold War feeling.

Someone missed a real opportunity to have a rag-tag gang of kids fight Al Qaeda...

kleinbl00  ·  2675 days ago  ·  link  ·  
Cloak and Dagger could have been such a great film. Same with DARYL, same with Little Nikita. To be perfectly honest, the ship from Flight of the Navigator still has a pretty big grip on my brain.

It entertains me that you've never heard of Tony Scott. He's probably one of the biggest directors today. Charles Mudede from The Stranger once described Ridley Scott as "look how cool this reflection is in this puddle" and Tony Scott as "Isn't it cool the way the wind rustles the curtains."

This link's for you:

mk  ·  2675 days ago  ·  link  ·  
Thanks. Great read.
AhimMoonchowsen  ·  2676 days ago  ·  link  ·  
"I've always wondered what that movie would have looked like with, say, Tony Scott at the helm instead of John Badham".

-There would be a lot more smoke!

thenewgreen  ·  2676 days ago  ·  link  ·  
kleinb100 I watched it too and was overcome with nostalgia. Not for the propaganda or even the movie itself but rather for the days when we would re-enact the movie as kids. The scene you refer to with Robert essentially committing suicide was particularly fun to "act out" as a kid.

RPG's were the shit.

Playing "Red Dawn" when it was cold enough to see your breath outside was a plus. The bird call that Jed uses throughout the movie was one we tried to emulate but never could. AVENGE ME BOYS! Was definitely a moment we relished.

Seeing Jennifer Gray's blue coat punctured with red-bloody-bullet holes as she holds the grenade... -Damn good stuff. (agreed that the nose job was a really bad call)

I forgot that Robert was played by C Thomas Howell:

I've really enjoyed this thread guys. Thanks.

thenewgreen  ·  2223 days ago  ·  link  ·  

First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed rereading this comment of yours. I'm wondering if you or anyone else ever saw the remake? If so, are there any redeeming qualities?

thenewgreen  ·  2679 days ago  ·  link  ·  
"Let me start out by saying that I know more about the original RED DAWN than anyone you've ever met." -When I first read this, I had my doubts. They quickly vanished.

Never in all my time spent here have I been so pleasantly surprised by a comment. I thoroughly, enjoyed this, well written, on point and absolutely hilarious. Your insight in to RED DAWN is much appreciated.

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

"It keeps me warm."

Brilliant indeed!

Great work KB.

kleinbl00  ·  2679 days ago  ·  link  ·  

(Yes, I did buy a poster off eBay)

thenewgreen  ·  2678 days ago  ·  link  ·  
Thanks. Before reading the original screenplay, I wanted to re-watch the 1984 film. I couldn't find it ANYWHERE on line. I downloaded the torrent (took 9 hours). Finally was ready to watch it tonight and I downloaded the German version... DOH!


It's been 15 years!

kleinbl00  ·  2677 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Disney pulled the original TRON ahead of the re-release:

thenewgreen  ·  2677 days ago  ·  link  ·  
Huh... I wonder what the thinking is?

Does the original paint the chinese in a bad light???