Red Dawn
Riffed by RiffTrax
Riffers Mike Nelson, Joel McHale
Series None
Date Released July 2, 2009

Red Dawn is a 1984 American war film directed by John Milius and co-written by Milius and Kevin Reynolds. It stars Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen, and Jennifer Grey. The film is set in an alternate 1980s in which the United States is invaded by the Soviet Union and its Cuban and Nicaraguan allies. However, the onset of World War III is in the background and not fully elaborated. The story follows a group of American high school students who resist the occupation with guerrilla warfare, calling themselves Wolverines, after their high school mascot. RiffTrax released their riff in July 2009.

Synopsis and PreviewEdit

RiffTrax - Red Dawn (clip)

RiffTrax - Red Dawn (clip)

[Spoilers Begin]

An introductory text explains how the United States has gradually become strategically isolated after several European nations withdraw from NATO. At the same time, the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact partners aggressively expand their sphere of influence. In addition, the Ukrainian wheat harvest fails while a Communist coup d'etat occurs in Mexico.

On a September morning, in the small town of Calumet, Colorado, a local high school teacher pauses when he sees Russian paratroopers landing in a nearby field. The paratroopers open fire when the teacher confronts them. Pandemonium follows as students flee amid heavy gunfire. In downtown Calumet, Cuban and Soviet troops are trying to impose order after a hasty occupation. Cuban Colonel Bella instructs the KGB to go to a local sporting goods store and obtain the records of the store's gun sales on the ATF's Form 4473, which lists citizens who have purchased firearms.

Brothers Jed and Matt Eckert, along with their friends Robert, Danny, Daryl, and Aardvark, flee into the wilderness after hastily equipping themselves at a sporting goods store owned by Robert's father. While on the way to the mountains, they run into a Russian roadblock, but are saved by an attacking (Huey) U.S. Army UH-1 helicopter gunship. After several weeks in the forest, they sneak back into town; Jed and Matt learn that their father is being held in a re-education camp. They visit the site and speak to him through the fence; Mr. Eckert orders his sons to "avenge" his inevitable death.

The kids visit the Masons and learn that they are behind enemy lines in "Occupied America". Robert's father is revealed to have been executed because of the missing inventory from his store. The Masons charge Jed and Matt with taking care of their two granddaughters, Toni and Erica. After killing Soviet soldiers in the woods, the youths begin an armed resistance against the occupation forces, calling themselves "Wolverines," after their high school mascot. The occupation forces initially try reprisal tactics, executing groups of civilians following every Wolverine attack. During one of these mass executions, the fathers of Jed, Matt, and Aardvark are killed. Daryl's father, Mayor Bates, is a collaborator and tries to appease the occupation authorities. Despite the reprisal tactics the occupation forces get nowhere.

The Wolverines find a downed pilot, Lt. Col. Andrew Tanner, who informs them of the current state of the war: several American cities, including Washington, D.C., were obliterated by nuclear strikes; the Strategic Air Command was crippled by Cuban saboteurs; and paratroopers were dropped from fake commercial airliners to seize key positions in preparation for subsequent assaults via Mexico and Alaska. The middle third of the US has been taken over, but American counterattacks have halted Soviet advances and the lines have stabilized. Concerned about nuclear fallout, both sides refrain from the further use of nuclear weapons.

Tanner assists the Wolverines in organizing raids against the Soviets. Soon after, in a visit to the front line, Tanner and Aardvark are killed in the crossfire of a tank battle. Using threats of torture, KGB officers force Daryl to swallow a tracking device, then release him to rejoin the guerrillas. Spetsnaz are sent into the mountains carrying portable radio triangulation equipment, but are ambushed by the Wolverines. The group trace the source of the signal to Daryl, who confesses and pleads for mercy, but is executed by Robert after Jed executes a Soviet soldier.

The remaining members are ambushed by Mi-24 helicopter gunships, and Robert and Toni are killed. Jed and Matt attack the Soviet headquarters in Calumet to distract the troops while Danny and Erica escape. The plan works, but Jed and Matt are wounded. Though Colonel Bella came across the brothers, he couldn't bring himself to kill them and lets them go. It is implied that the brothers die in the park where they spent time as kids.

Erica narrates that the United States repelled the Soviet invasion some time later. A plaque is seen with Partisan Rock in the background, with each dead patriots name inscribed upon it. The rock is fenced off and an American flag flies nearby. The plaque reads:

...In the early days of World War III, guerrillas – mostly children – placed the names of their lost upon this rock. They fought here alone and gave up their lives, so "that this nation shall not perish from the earth."

[Spoilers End]

Cast and CrewEdit

  • Patrick Swayze as Jed Eckert
  • Charlie Sheen as Matt Eckert
  • Harry Dean Stanton as Tom Eckert
  • C. Thomas Howell as Robert Morris
  • Roy Jenson as Mr. Samuel Morris
  • Lea Thompson as Erica Mason
  • Jennifer Grey as Toni Mason
  • Ben Johnson as Mr. Jack Mason
  • Darren Dalton as Daryl Bates
  • Lane Smith as Mayor Bates
  • Doug Toby as Arturo "Aardvark" Mondragón
  • Pepe Serna as Mr. Mondragón
  • Brad Savage as Danny Bates
  • Frank McRae as Mr. Teasdale
  • Vladek Sheybal as General Bratchenko
  • Ron O'Neal as Col. Ernesto Bella
  • William Smith as Col. Strelnikov
  • Powers Boothe as Lt. Col. Andrew "Andy" Tanner, USAF
  • Judd Omen as Nicaraguan Cpt.
  • Radames Pera as Sgt. Stepan Gorsky



See AlsoEdit

External LinksEdit