6 Patriotic Trailers


Hi everyone!

Happy Independence Day and welcome to a special edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers!  

In honor of this day, here are 6 trailers that are so patriotic, they’ll make our American readers reconsider their earlier decision to move to Canada!

1) Red Dawn (1984)

2) Invasion USA (1952)

3) Invasion USA (1985)

4) The Delta Force (1986)

5) American Anthem (1986)

6) The Green Berets (1968)

So, what does everyone think after watching these six trailers…


Oh, stop it.

(Just kidding — love you, Canada!  Love you too, America!)


Guilty Pleasure No. 5: Invasion U.S.A.


Time to put up a new guilty pleasure that goes way, way back for me. This flick came out a year after the ultra-violent, thus equally awesome Red Dawn. As a very impressionable young boy that film had me and my brother and a select group of friends coming up with ways to form our very own Wolverines. While our plans were really just an excuse to play war games in the playground it was the following year in 1985 when this latest “guilty pleasure” had my brother and I moving up to a new level doomsday prepping.

That film was the Chuck Norris classic bloodbath: Invasion U.S.A.

Instead of the Soviet military invading the U.S. mainland this time around it would be Latin American communist guerrillas led by a Rogue KGB agent who would be doing the invading. Well, invading the suburbs and malls of Florida at least. Just like in true exploitation fashion the film would use the fear Americans had of foreign terrorists (this was the era of the airline hijackings, hostage takings and cafe bombings) finally putting it in their heads to strike at the American heartland.

But who would stop them if none other than the poor man’s Sylvester Stallone. He was no Rambo, but his name has become even more feared in popular culture. He is Chuck Norris and he’s the country’s only savior against hundreds of well-armed terrorist guerrillas and the rogue Soviet leaders. For a pre-teen set this was a flick that opened up the imagination to new levels of violence (thus awesome playground wargaming afterwards) and epic action. It’s not a surprise that it would be the Cannon Films group led by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus (proprietors of some of the 80’s best and most violent action films of the era).

This film has become a sort of cult classic amongst action film aficionados. It’s literally a film that puts on the action gas from the start and doesn’t let up. Even has grindhouse stalwarts like Richard Lynch and Billy Drago to give it some exploitation creds.

They sure don’t make action flicks like this anymore. Which really is a damn bloody shame.

On a side note: this is one flick I hope Lisa Marie, Leonard and these Snarkalecs they seem to be hanging about it to view one night if it ever airs on TV.

Poll: Which Films Are You Most Looking Forward To Seeing In November?

As always, you can vote for up to four films and write-in votes are accepted.

Check out the results of last month’s poll here!

Review: Red Dawn (dir. by John Milius)

“I don’t know. Two toughest kids on the block I guess. Sooner or later they’re going to fight.”

[guilty pleasure]

Anyone who grew up during the 1980’s would say that some of the best action films were made and release during this decade. I won’t disagree with them and probably would agree to a certain point. This was the decade when action films evolved from the realism of the 70’s to the excess and ultra-violence of the 80’s. This was the decade which ushered in such action heroes as Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Willis. It was also the decade which released one of the most violent films ever released by a major motion picture studio. It’s a film that has been remembered through the prism of nostalgia. I speak of the 1984 war film by John Milius simply titled Red Dawn.

John Milius is one of those filmmakers who never conformed to the stereotype of liberal Hollywood. He was an unabashed Republican (though he considers himself more of a Zen anarchist) in a liberal studio system who happened to have written some of the most revered films of the 1970’s (Jeremiah Johnson, Apocalypse Now, Dirty Harry). He came up with a follow-up to his hugely successful Conan the Barbarian in the form of a war film set in current times (mid-80’s) America that he called Red Dawn. It was a story which takes an alternate history of the Cold War where Soviet forces and it’s allies launch a successful preemptive invasion of the United States. Before people think that this was the idea born of a conservative, warmongering mind it’s been documented that Milius’ inspiration for this film was a real Pentagon hypothetical exercise of what would happen if the Soviet Union conducted a conventional invasion of the United States and how the government and it’s population would react and resist such an occupying force. The  story would finally get it’s final treatment with major input from screenwrtier Kevin Reynolds’ own story which added a certain Lord of the Flies vibe to the group of teenagers who form the bulk of the film’s cast.

The film actually starts off with an impressive sequence of your typical Midwestern high school day with students seated in their classrooms. One moment this Rockwellian image gets a surprise from soldiers parachuting in the field outside the school. Thus we have the beginning of the Soviet invasion with one of the teachers being gunned down for trying to peacefully interact with the airborne troopers. The rest of the film is about a group of highschoolers led by senior Jed Eckert (Patrick Swayze) and his younger brother Matt (Charlie Sheen) as they flee with a handful of their classmates the massacre at their school and soon their whole town as well.

Red Dawn uses the first half of the film to show the confusion and chaos created by the sudden appearance of foreign soldiers on America soil attacking civilians and, soon enough, whatever American military response that manages to react in the area. We’re put in the shoes of Jed and his band of teenagers as they try to survive the roving bands of Soviet and Cuban soldiers patrolling the plains and countryside surrounding their hometown of Calumet, Colorado. We see American civilians packed into re-education camps and rumors of KGB secret police making certain troublemakers disappear and worst. It’s the America Cold War nightmare scenario where the Soviet Evil Empire has taken a foothold on US soil and the government and military nowhere in sight to help it’s population.

The second half of the film solves this scenario by arming the teenagers led by Jed into a sort of teen guerrila force using their school’s mascot as their rallying cry. It’s the shouts of “Wolverines!” which has become part of American pop-culture as we get to see these teenagers conduct hit-and-run strikes on enemy patrols and forward bases while at the same time arming those they free from camps. It’s during this part of the film where the violence gets ramped up to an almost ridiculous level. It’s no wonder that for almost two decades this film would be considered by Guinness World Records as the most violent film ever put on the big-screen. Milius and his filmmaking crew do not skimp on the use of blood squibs as Jed and his ragtag band of teen fighters gun down Soviets, Nicaraguans and Cuban soldiers by the score every minute during a long montage in the middle of the film.

Red Dawn in terms of storytelling is actually quite good in the grand scheme of the narrative being told, but even through the prism of nostalgia and rose-tinted glasses the characters in the film get the short-end of the stick. With the exception of Swayze’s eldest teen Jed as leader of the Wolverines the rest of the band’s teenage characters look like your typical casting call stereotypes who fill in the required roles in any ensemble cast. There’s Darren Dalton as the high school class president jealous of the group’s leader Jed, but unable to act on it. We have C. Thomas Howell as Robert the mousy one when the film begins who becomes a hardened and cold-hearted killer as the film goes on. Everyone fits in neatly to their assigned role and noen of the young actors (at the time) bring much to their characters.

This film continues to be remembered fondly by it’s fans both new and old because of the “what-if” scenario being played out on the screen. I would say that if there ever was a pure American film I would think Red Dawn manages to fit the bill. It’s a film which highlights the so-called individualism and can-do attitude Americans see for themselves. How it’s up to each individual to fight to protect their loved ones and for what is theirs. Some have called this film as a conservative’s wet-dream, but I rather think it’s a film that should appeal more to Libertarians as it focuses on individual liberties and self-preservation when the government and military tasked to protect them have failed.

John Milius has always been a maverick in Hollywood and his unpopular political beliefs have kept him from doing more work in the film industry, but one cannot deny the fact that he made one of the most iconic films of the 1980’s. Whether one agreed with the film’s politics and thought it to be a good film or not was irrelevent. Red Dawn has become part of American pop-culture and will continue to be a major example of the excess of 80’s action filmmaking for good or ill. Plus, even the most liberal people I know find the basic story of fighting to protect the nation from invaders something that feeds their innermost fantasy of playing the good guys fighting the good fight. Red Dawn is a great example of the underdog film that just happens to have teenagers kicking Soviet military ass.

Homefront (Xbox360/PS3/PC)

While most first-person shooter games tend to bore me there are a few which have caught my gaming fancy and continue to play to this day. Usually it’s either the latest game from Microsoft’s Halo franchise or Activision’s Call of Duty series. I tend to have less excitement over upcoming new FPS games and will wait until people who do love them actually give me a thumbs up or thumbs down on a particular title before I try it.

There’s one game which has caught my eye and part of it is due to the interesting story the game will be built around. A speculative fiction the game will revolve around and it’s the occupation of the US by a Greater Korean Republic in the year 2027.

Yes, you read that correctly. The US in this game will be invaded by a unified Korea (with the North in control) after many years of economic downturn has finally collapsed the US economy in addition to the world itself experiencing the first stages of post peak-oil. This setting has a major Red Dawn feel to it and it’s not surprising since the person who came up with the story for Homefront is none other than John Milius himself who wrote and directed the film.

While details on the gameplay looks to keep to the usual FPS gameplay standard the plot and some of the single-player campaign tweaks has made me decide that this game will be something I need to play. This time the player will play an American playing as a guerilla fighter in the Korean-occupied US. Civilians as collateral damage is suppose to play an integral part in how the game unfolds in the single-player campaign.

The multiplayer will include the usual point system earned to buy newer and better gear and weapons. Unlike the two franchises previously mentioned the points earned can also go towards bigger ticket items such as helicopters, tanks and other vehicles.

Here’s to hoping that there’s a fancy swag-edition of this game and that publisher THQ and the game’s developer KAOS Studios get creative with said limited swag-edition.

Quickie Review: Hot Tub Time Machine (dir. by Steve Pink)

I was a child of the 80’s. I can’t escape that particular information about my past, but unlike some of those of my generation I wholeheartedly embrace the 80’s both the good and the bad and the oh-so-awful. This is why after watching Hot Tub Time Machine (directed by Steve Pink…quite an 80’s name if there ever was one) I have a much deeper appreciation for the things I went through growing up as a teen during the mid-80’s. Rap was just starting to get real popular. Hairstyles, fashion and pop culture was dictated by the emerging juggernaut that was MTV (when they actually played music videos). This raunchy (and it is pretty raunchy) comedy starring John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke definitely spoke to my inner 80’s teen self.

The film’s premise could’ve been taken straight out of any 80’s direct-to-video knock-off of Back to the Future meets Porky’s. I mean the title itself pretty much explains the premise of the film. A literal hot tub acts as a time machine which whisks the four actors mentioned above to 1986 where they get to re-live a specific night they all spent together in 1986 (well, except Duke’s character who wasn’t born yet). Talk about space-time continuum and butterfly effect gets bandied about, but in the end the whole film was just trying to insert as much 80’s pop culture references as possible within 90 and plus minutes.

The film definitely got the 80’s vibe by liberally putting in boobs and naked chicks. 80’s icons Chevy Chase, Crispin Glover and William Zabka make appearances and John Hughes moments get replicated. I mean shot literally like it was Sixteen Candles all over again. The performances by everyone involved was great and it seemed like everyone were enjoying themselves. Craig Robinson as Nick had me laughing out loud every time he said something.

One thing good I can say about Hot Tub Time Machine that encompasses everything good about it is that it played like the anti-Judd Apatow comedy. While Apatow laughers I enjoy they’ve gotten to the point that everyone tries to make their comedies sound like his. Plus, any comedy that can have Sixteen Candles and Red Dawn references in the same 30-minute span has to be awesome….Oh yeah, it also used Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home” power ballad over and over.