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The Red Dawn of the Wolverines

Depending on how much you follow the schedule of upcoming movie releases, you may or may not know that MGM was planning to release a remake of Red Dawn on November 24, 2010 (the picture above is from the set). I say “was” because the studio is facing such major financial difficulties that the release has been postponed and the movie may be shelved indefinitely. To make matters worse, the Chinese press got a hold of the leaked script, which was based around a Chinese invasion of America (as opposed to the Soviet invasion in the first movie), and the headlines are not pretty. A few notable newspapers covered the story saying things like, "U.S. reshoots Cold War movie to demonize China" and "American movie plants hostile seeds against China." In honor of a movie that may soon join the ranks of many other films that might have been, let’s enjoy some trivia about the original 1984 version of Red Dawn. Image via g jewels [Flickr]

Shifting Focus

If you’re one of the many people who think the movie is a pathetic excuse to rally Americans against communists, then you may be surprised to know that the original story was much more intellectual and less action-oriented. Unlike the final version of Red Dawn, the original tale was more like Lord of the Flies, focusing on tensions between the group members and serving to illustrate the aggressive nature of mankind rather than the evils of communist Russia. The story, originally called Ten Soldiers, was also focused on kids who were in their early teens, rather than the older teens featured in the final version.

Getting Ready For Action

The cast and crew both had a lot of work ahead of them even before filming started. The actors, which included Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey and Charlie Sheen, were all required to go through an intensive eight-week military-styled boot camp to get them in shape and ready to fight. Meanwhile, the production crews were tasked with creating realistic weapons and vehicles for the American and Communist forces to use in the film. One of the movies T-72 tanks turned out to be such a perfect replica that the CIA actually dispatched two officers to find out where the Russian tank had come from and what it was doing in LA. What Happens In Vegas Stays In New Mexico While the movie is set in Calumet, Colorado, it was filmed mostly in Las Vegas, New Mexico. A rundown Safeway grocery store was used as a sound stage and many scenes were filmed there. Many of the buildings seen in the movie are still standing, with the exception being a 107 year-old historical building that was used for the headquarters of the invaders in the movie. Although it managed to survive being bombed by Wolverines for the purpose of production, it didn’t survive severe thunderstorms in the summer of 2006 and was torn down shortly after.

Setting A New Standard

If you ever thought there was nothing noteworthy about Red Dawn, you’re wrong. Not only did the movie represent the Charlie Sheen’s debut onto film, it also was the first PG-13 movie released in to theaters and the most violent film ever made at the time, according to Guinness. Technically The Flamingo Kid was the first movie to receive a PG-13 rating, but because its release was delayed five months, Red Dawn is largely credited with being the first PG-13 movie ever. Many parent groups protested the movie, notably The National Coalition on Television Violence, which was shocked by the Guinness Record given to the movie. According to the record, the movie had 134 acts of violence per hour, over two every minute. The Coalition claimed that 1984 had the most violent blockbusters ever released in one summer, as Indiana Jones, Gremlins and Dreamscape also hit theaters that year.

Real World Inspirations

Many critics claimed the film was a fantasyland for war hawks who wanted to use the movie as an excuse to go to war. While the Cold War ended shortly after the movie was released, critics were right in assuming that the military was inspired by the film. When a Hussein disappeared during the Iraq war, the Army set up Operation Red Dawn, and named the targets of the mission Wolverine 1 and Wolverine 2. The captain who named the mission, Geoffrey McMurray, said it “was so fitting because it was a patriotic, pro-American movie.” Politics on Neatorama are pretty divided and can be very heated, so I’m sure many of you have quite different opinions on the movie. So what do you guys think? Do you like Red Dawn? Are you hoping to see the sequel when (and if) it comes out? Sources: Wikipedia, New York Times, IMDB, Slash Film


Red Dawn has been one of my top movies for a LONG time. Not the greatest acting or anything, but just a good storyline. I was talking to a co-worker from Wyoming about it and he said that it was every mountain kids fantasy to hide out in the mountains and defend the country from the Russians.

I would watch the new movie, but I can't help but think that it is going to have to be politically correct enough so nobody is offended. You can't refer to some group as "the enemy" without offending them.
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I LOVE Red Dawn. It's definitely one of my favorite movies of all time. I was 10 when it was released. I grew up on that movie.

I think it's important now because it's a reminder of what the Cold War days were like. It's a reminder of that constant, looming fear that we would be invaded by the Russians.

I would see the new version of the movie, but I wouldn't have very high expectations for it. Remakes seldom live up to the glory of the original.
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I liked the movie but never loved it since I couldn't figure out how the Soviets were able to land paratroopers in friggin Colorado. Not being able to figure out some sort of an attack is coming is forgiveable, I mean its conceiveable the US failed to gather any sort of intelligence about a massive invasion about to take place but paratroopers landing in Colorado? Did it take phone calls from the the local people to alert the government that this was occurring? How is that possible?
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Uhg, China. In most other countries if headlines say that America is demonizing their countries I would dismiss it as the media blowing things out of proportion but the things I have heard about China's government lately, make me feel like this is just propaganda. Their government system is so messed up to it's people and this is a psychological way to keep the citizens subordinate to their government (not saying American government doesn't do it too).
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I saw it as a teenager when it came out and thought it was brilliant. Having seen it again as an adult, it looked more like a comic book plotted adolescent fantasy with adults all capitulating immediately leaving some totally awesome teen tragic heroes.

The acting's not bad, but not great - some parts were truly awful, but others weren't.

The action is great.

The writing is just terrible. The premise was the most painful part. Commies in Colorado? Really? Nuclear war, but only in China? Really?) No character development. Awful dialog - How did it feel to kill? "It felt good." It's a shame they didn't stick with their original vision - the theme might not have started as red-baiting, but that's where it ended.

There's a habit among partisans (remember Partisan Rock) of adulating even their worst art. This movie's pretty much on part with 80s action movies - not great, but not awful, but the movie's reputation has been boosted by knee-jerk adulation rather than inherent merit.
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looks like "Randi" believes the american propoganda and is kept in a 'psychological way' to be subordinate and believe all the BS spewed fourth by hollywood and the government, white males, basically.
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That movie was a sobering punch in the gut to a couple of 18 year old high school seniors in spring of 1985 - myself and a friend - and my friend was heading off to the Naval Academy just a few weeks later.
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I call viral marketing hype on this one. I just don't see them completing the movie to come this far and not release it. It'll be out.. as soon as the news gets a hold of it and churns up some public interest for a few days.
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I don't know how this movie will compare, with the classic, but from what I heard during the filming, it is a very different beast. The first version of the plot that I heard of involves Detroit being "given" to the Chinese to make up for a city in China that the United States accidentally destroyed. When word of this leaked out, some called for the movie's funding to be pulled because they saw that as anti-American. Don't know if this is the version that made it to film, but if so, it might be a hard sell. At least it might make it straight to DVD, which happens an awful lot these days.
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"...the movie is a pathetic excuse to rally Americans against communists". Nice to see a politically unbiased article on Neatorama.

Perhaps Ms. Harness would like to explain to all of those millions killed in Soviet gulags and purges that communism isn't something that should be rallied against.
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Moronic right-wing wet dream crap. The whole idea of an American militia holding off the Rooskies is ridiculous. Horrible, inane, John Birch nonsense.
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Always a favorite of mine. It is a little hard to watch over and over because of the minimal acting skills, but the ending is very emotionally powerful.

I remember reading (I don't know how true it is) that Milius had trouble finding work after it because it's message was too patriotic and pro-American.
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Demonize China. They deserve it for filling the world with useless plastic dingleberries of all shapes and sizes, pollution and toxic waste that makes strip-mining look like an Arbor Day event, and using the Great-Wall-Construction technique of slavery disguised as progress to accomplish their, "glorious entry into global economy."

Red Dawn? Is the name for that new Chinese dish washing detergent that uses grease to combat the surfactants in municipal their water supplies?
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Fun fact: The character Walter (John Goodman) from 'The Big Lebowski' was modeled on John Milius, the director of 'Red Dawn'.
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The opening scene,with all the paratroopers, was shot two blocks from my grandparents house.I was about four at the time,my uncles locked me out of the house telling me that the army men were going to get me.

Still love watching it even after that trauma!
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