Cover of Red Dawn
I was listening to “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me” yesterday, which is eminently humorous and always informative. While listening I learned a movie that shaped my childhood, Red Dawn, bares the distinction of most violent film ever by the 2007 Guinness Book of Records.
Red Dawn is a 1984 American war film directed and co-written by John Milius and also written by Kevin Reynolds and starring Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey, and Powers Boothe. Set in an alternate timeline during the mid-1980s, the film is largely an exploration of American fears during the Cold War.
The backdrop of Red Dawn is a fictional invasion of the United States by the Communist Soviet Union and their Central American allies. However the onset of World War III is merely in the background of the plot and not fully elaborated on. The story follows a group of American high school students who resist their foreign occupiers through guerrilla warfare and call themselves the Wolverines, after their local football team, some of whom are members.
Red Dawn sets the record for violence with a rate of 134 acts of violence per hour, or 2.23 per minute. Wow! One might imagine it would be difficult to fit a plot into a movie with this much violence. One would be correct. It’s interesting to note this was the first movie to receive a PG-13 rating. PG-13? The requirement for viewing the world’s most violent movie is the ripe age of 13? USA USA USA! American’s willingness to subject our children to gobs of gory violence contrasted with our visceral revulsion of allowing them to view an exposed nipple always confounds me. Even more surprising than young children being approved to view this movie during return to family values Reagan era is the fact that the movie still holds this record. Think of all the ridiculously gory movies that have been released in recent years. The Hostel, Saw I through Saw X. Amazing.
I watched Red Dawn as a child many times. It was one of those movies, like Top Gun, that was wildly popular in my peer group and we all prided ourselves on memorizing every line. The first time time I saw the movie was when I was nine or ten years old. I was terribly ill with strep throat and rather than attending services at Robert A. Schuller Jr’s church in San Juan Capistrano where my grandfather was a deacon I had the distinct and singular joy of watching Red Dawn on VHS in a back room. It was glorious. Undoubtedly the best church experience I’ve ever had.
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