'RED DAWN' & THE NORTH FACE

The right has given us some of the best action films ever. Left-wing action cinema rarely hits the high notes that ‘Three Kings’ did back in 1999  —  ‘Green Zone’ anyone? That was an ordeal. Raised on ‘Death Wish 3’ and ‘Conan The Barbarian,’ reactionary, ultra macho revenge missions that spit on PC output like Steve Jobs’ empire are the only fix. This is something that’s been prevalent as long as I’ve had access to VHS – bad Russians or street punks getting a cinematic buckshot shampoo was perfect entertainment. It’s certainly doesn’t reflect my political views in the real world, but I like my action movies sprinkled with a right-wing agenda. It’s the necessary component for a mindless 2 hours. John Milius however, is a very clever man.  With nimble typewriter digits to match his itchy trigger-finger, he’s the man behind ‘Dillinger’, ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘Big Wednesday’, the aforementioned barbarian adaptation, Robert Shaw’s USS Indianapolis speech in ‘Jaws’ that kills seafaring merriment stone-dead, ‘Extreme Prejudice’ and ‘Dirty Harry’. Unfuckwithable cinema.

Then there’s ‘Red Dawn’. Arguably the dumbest of the mentioned movies, it’s endlessly re-watchable, and astonishingly violent for a teen flick of the time. Curiously, one ‘Red Dawn’ screenwriter, Kevin Reynolds, went on to direct 1988’s ‘The Beast’ (aka. ‘The Beast of War’) — a far more liberal treatment of invasion that everyone should watch at least once in their life. I’ll make no secret that Conan’s mantra of “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women...” beat most life coaching in the quest for happiness, but ‘Red Dawn’ has a huge influence on me growing up. It didn’t educate me in the slightest on matters of race-relations, and whatever message other than shoot-the-bad-guys went over my pre-pubescent head. I was too short to catch anything other than explosions and good outfits emanating from the idiot box.

The best teen films of the ’80s were aspirational — combating vampires, werewolves and Black Lagoon creatures, hunting pirate treasure…’Red Dawn’ created a pinnacle. A parent-free, survivalist situation where people didn’t just get up with superficial wounding. That was it. Brat packing with the bonus of a body count. The current craze for covering a slow blog week by claiming that anyone wearing a nice coat pre-1980 is some kind of style role model is played, but it was ‘Red Dawn’ that instigated a personal preoccupation with military looks and outdoors gear. The Wolverines are dressed like standard 1984 teen douches at the opening of the film, but on running to the mountains, the goose-down, hood-up, brat pack backpack look begins — they evidently raided a North Face retailer before hitting the hills for some man-hugs and thankfully Robert’s father owned a wilderness store. It’s good gear for navigating Arapaho National Forest. The bags are scattered throughout the film, but during the first quarter, a grey down-filled coat is visible on 2 male leads. Beyond that, the whole damned film could be a great video lookbook for whatever brand has decided to “go outdoorsy” now. When W(Taps dropped their ‘Red Dawn’ collection in 2008, that fusion of militaristic collegiate was no coincidence.

1991’s ‘Toy Soldiers’ couldn’t reach the same heights, and Australian film ‘Tomorrow When The War Began’ can’t compete either. Alas, a real ‘Red Dawn’ remake is coming, with the Chinese, rather than a Russian, Nicaraguan and Cuban army as the bad guys. While I’m opposed to it for its lack-of-ideas, much like John Milius, who railed against the script a couple of months back and bemoaned Hollywood’s current idea vacuum, anti-reddawn2010.com is a Chinese site created by those furious that they’re about to be demonised. One thing’s for certain — those surviving kids won’t be as well-dressed as they were in 1984. As camo creeps back into your wardrobe in appropriately stealthy style over the coming months, pay homage to the Wolverines  — Capone-N-Noreaga’s impending ‘Camouflage Season’ mixtape says it all. It’s baaaaaaaaaack. Flicking through the Fall Nike Sportswear Japan lookbook, we’re about to be invaded stylistically too. That’s an invasion I’m anticipating…

I’d recommend this photo album to any fellow ‘Red Dawn’ fans – titled ‘Williams Photo Album’ it’s an album of on-set shots from the 1983 shoot in Las Vegas. Presumably a local and extra in the film took the pictures. There’s some great closeups of the movie’s propaganda designs in there…

0 thoughts on “'RED DAWN' & THE NORTH FACE

  1. This film makes my top 5 every fucking time, for reason I am sure you can appreciate.

    Great post, and that photo album you linked to is proper.

    1. Cheers Dom! It’s a movie that really benefits from DVD. I can’t fathom the snobbery around it – heavy-handed fearmaking = great cinema…

  2. I remember being sooooooooo amped when first reading about the taps collection and hearing that Tet had gone back to his ol’ ways of milspec… maaaaaaaaan did that collection hurt. And not in a good way. Yeah it’s prolly his strongest collection in recent memory (since the little lookbooks came out so we could actually see a full season as an entity and not depend on resellers posting their taps on yahoo or indecipherable japanese blogs)… Tet coulda have fuckin killed it… he had all the means too… was so bummed… but could any other ‘designer’ have come close?

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