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10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Original ‘Red Dawn’

Fans of 80s movies will probably remember ‘Red Dawn,’ released in 1984 and starring Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson, and Jennifer Grey. Now considered a cult classic, the movie is about a set of local teens who call themselves the “Wolverines” that come together to save their town and country from a Soviet and Cuban occupation.

On November 21st, a remake of ‘Red Dawn’ hits theaters, and this time it’s North Korea that invades the United States. Popular stars Chris Hemsworth (The Avengers) and Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games), as well as Josh Peck (Drake & Josh), Isabel Lucas (Immortals) and Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights) make up the group of guerilla fighters.

In order to get ready to see the remake and to bulk up our pop culture trivia knowledge, we looked back at the original. Here are ten things that you probably didn’t know about ‘Red Dawn.’


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10

It Was the First PG-13 Film

 
 

In 1984, director Stephen Spielberg suggested to the MPAA that they add a rating between R and PG, because too many films either traumatized kids with things they shouldn’t see or unfairly barred them from seeing certain films that they should be allowed to view. 'Red Dawn' was the first film to be released with the brand new PG-13 rating.

 
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9

The Movie Had Record-Level Violence

 
 

Guinness Book of Records determined that 'Red Dawn' contained the most violence in any film produced up until that time. They counted 134 acts of violence per hour, which is 2.23 per minute. To recognize this record, the Collector’s Edition DVD released in 2007 contains a “Carnage Counter” feature that keeps track of all the violent acts on screen.

 
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8

It's Not Your Typical Drama Camp

 
 

All actors need to prepare before the camera starts to roll, but in addition to the process you would normally expect the actors on this film underwent intense physical preparations as well. Before filming began, the cast went through a realistic military training course for eight weeks.

 
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7

It Had an Insane Props Department

 
 

A lot of times the attention for a movie is focused on the cast, but the hard working crew deserves equal praise for their behind the scenes work. The Soviet T-72 replica tank for 'Red Dawn' was so accurate that while it was being hauled to the studio, CIA officials followed it and then demanded to know where it came from.

 
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6

It Struck a National Cord

 
 

The Soviet and Cuban invasion plot of the film was not a coincidental decision. The CIA and other forces had determined that at that time, those were the biggest United States vulnerabilities. The upcoming remake seems to follow a similar formula, with current United States foe North Korea acting as the invading force.

 
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5

It's Got a Forced Happy Ending

 
 

A movie about military invasion and guerrilla warfare is bound to have a high body count, but MGM demanded that it end on a positive note. At the end of 'Red Dawn,' a voiceover explains that the United States eventually won the war against the Soviets. Everybody loves a happy ending, but movie studios apparently insist on them.

 
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4

Introducing...Charlie Sheen

 
 

Early roles in Charlie Sheen’s career bring 'Platoon' and 'Wall Street' to mind, but those wouldn’t be for another few years. His performance in 'Red Dawn' was actually his film debut. Unfortunately for Charlie Sheen, that’s not the most well known piece of trivia about him.

 
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3

Conservatives Love It

 
 

National Review Online compiled a list of “The Best Conservative Movies” and 'Red Dawn' is slotted in the 15th space. It says the movie displays “the truth that America is a place and an idea worth fighting and dying for will not be denied, not under a pile of left-wing critiques or even Red Dawn’s own melodramatic flaws.” (This same list has 'The Incredibles' as the #2 film, so think of that what you will.)

 
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2

It's More Prevalent In Pop Culture Than You Realize

 
 

Years after its release, the movie still influences various aspects of pop culture. Several video games including Homefront, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Freedom Fighters are somewhat based on the movie in terms of their storyline, characters, and even references to the “Wolverines.” So even if you’ve never seen 'Red Dawn,' you may have played your way through it a couple of times.

 
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1

It Helped Catch Saddam Hussein -- Sort Of

 
 

Director John Milius was “deeply flattered and honored” that his film was chosen as the moniker for the 2003 mission that captured Iraq’s former dictator Saddam Hussein. Army Captain Geoffrey McMurray chose the name Operation Red Dawn because “it was a patriotic, pro-American movie.”

 

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