At the end of the ‘70s, my parents moved the family to the North Woods, near the Canadian border, to wait out the end of civilization. The neighbors were bikers, farmers, hippies, militia men. They got tired of waiting in the ‘80s and moved us back to the cities, but we often visited, and my parents would leave my thoroughly urbanized middle-class snot-nosed brat self in the hands of these people; on the fringe of society or from the heartland, depending on your perspective.
“Uncle Ernie” was an ex-biker turned trapper living in a homemade shack ten miles into the woods. My parents asked him to watch me as they called on old friends. He asked if I wanted to watch a movie on his newfangled VCR, and of course I did, excited to do something that didn’t involve shoveling something or gutting fish. I was going through a serious television withdrawal. I didn’t know what I was in for.
“Sit down then," he said sternly, "you need to watch this. Pay attention and learn something, because THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO YOU ONE DAY." For the next hour and a half he scared the shit out of me with Red Dawn. He cheered the movie on like a one-man Jerry Springer audience. He chastised me along with the communists, jeering at the softness of the teenagers and interjecting frequently with “amen!” and “damn right!” I was ten years old, and even though it’s on cable seemingly daily, ever since I have not been able to stomach watching more than a few minutes of this bleak, corny movie.
I’m sure everyone already knows the plot: A foreign army invades a country and occupies it. A group of young, ideological insurgents use terrorist tactics in a war of attrition. They set up ambushes, they purge collaborators, and they demoralize the under-supported rank-and-file invaders who have been sent by their distant powerful overlords. Pretty unrealistic.
The guerillas include Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen and a pre-nose job Jennifer Grey. At one point they meet up with a downed fighter pilot played by Powers Booth, who should have won an academy award for best name ever. Most of them die, but at least those commie sumbitches find out THESE colors don’t run! Yee-haw! Love it or leave it! There aren’t atheists in foxholes! Pretty much any bumper sticker on any pickup sums it up.
That’s all window dressing though. The real point of Red Dawn is this: you are a pussy. If the paratroopers dropped in today, why, I bet you’d just cave right in, wouldn’t ya? Your dad is NOT an asshole, he’s trying to get you ready! Think he’s gonna help you? He’ll be dead! Spoiled, that’s your problem. Think you could do what those kids did? Hell no, you couldn’t. I bet you can’t even do twenty push-ups, can ya? C’mon, let’s see it! Get down on the floor! Don’t you give me that look! You think the commies are gonna take your smart mouth? Because they are comin’! YOU WANNA DIE WITH A BULLET IN YOUR GUT LIKE THAT KID? DO YA?
I give my memory of Red Dawn a B+