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Red Dawn

USA 1984
produced by
Barry Beckerman, Buzz Feitshans, Sidney Beckerman (executive) for Valkyrie Films/United Artists
directed by John Milius
starring Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen, Darren Dalton, Jennifer Grey, Brad Savage, Doug Toby, Ben Johnson, Harry Dean Stanton, Ron O'Neal, William Smith, Vladek Sheybal, Powers Boothe, Frank McRae, Roy Jenson, Pepe Serna, Lane Smith, Judd Omen, Sam Slovick, Radames Pera, Lois Kimbrell, Elan Oberon, Phil Mead
story by Kevin Reynolds, screenplay by John Milius, Kevin Reynolds, music by Basil Poledouris

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When foreign paratroopers land outside the classroom window, that's never a good omen, and when these paratroopers turn out to be commies from Russia and Cuba, well, that's pretty bad, and since they are commies, they immediately start killing people (?) or putting them into reeducation centers. However, a few schoolkids (C.Thomas Howell, Charlie Sheen, Darren Dalton, Brad Savage, Doug Toby) led by Chad (Patrick Swayze) manage to make it off to the woods, where they hide out relying nothing but Chad's experience as a boy scout - and soon they start guerrilla attacks on the enemy ... and of course we know that a bunch of American schoolkids armed with bow and arrow are always a match for evil, well-organized commies who have just conquered the country. Eventually, too, two girls (Jennifer Grey, Lea Thompson) join the boys, and they soon enough act as rape bait for our guerrillas - because we all know commies only want to rape all day long. Eventually, they are also joined by a shot-down US-pilot (Powers Boothe), who gives them plenty of advice, but he's also the first to die a hero's death - because combat experience will never beat the patriotism, heart and dedication of American schoolkids. Of course, eventually even these dumb commies grow wise to our kids and use helicopters to hunt them - and they kill quite a few of them, too. But then Chad leads a raid of the commie headquarters, and ...

In the epilogue we learn that schoolkid guerrillas all over the country toppled the commie regime and effectively freed the USA.


As a piece of propaganda, Red Dawn is despicable: Its messages are reactionary, its approach is 100% biased, and it never even cares to look beneath its surface - let alone try to understand the communists and communism, and the enemy's motives ... just as it never explains the kids' patriotism of course.

As a piece of action cinema, Red Dawn is hilarious, as it's of the "good guys always win"-variety, where schoolkids with bow and arrow hit their targets with every shot, while trained soldiers with machine guns are unable to hit a sitting duck. Furthermore, the good guys are always noble, while the baddies are always despicable, and they don't seem to do anything all day but executing people.

As a piece of cinema though, Red Dawn is completely forgettable, it's neither well-made nor well-written nor well-acted, lacks any self-irony and is too blunt in its patriotic antie-commie message - which of course makes this film unintentionally funny in a so-bad-it's-good sort of way ... at circa 110 minutes though, it's also a bit too long to hold up its entertainment value throughout, and also too repetitive to really keep one too interested. Still, worth a chuckle I guess ...


Interestingly, this film has been remade in 2012 - which doesn't say anything about the qualities of the original Red Dawn, but everything about the lack of ideas Hollywood has these days. Phew!


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD