by Jim Ridley
Two cult movies, each alike in poker-faced ridiculousness. Both are ’80s action-movie artifacts. Both feature outgunned young rebels fighting back against ruthless invaders. Both show at midnight this weekend at The Belcourt. Which should you see?
Earlier this week, Lance Conzett made the case for Miami Connection, the rediscovered 1987 gutbuster that connected with Belcourt audiences two weekends ago — so much so the theater has held it over for a third screening. (As proof of how strong word of mouth has been, the Saturday screening two weekends ago had more people than the prior screening Friday.) Here's Lance's take from his "Late Shift" column, where he's been attending every Belcourt midnight movie this year:
This much is clear: Miami Connection is an unparalleled disaster of a movie that confuses narrative and character development with musical interludes and board-breaking. It is, by all regards, crazily made and thoroughly ’80s. But within that swirling tempest of garbage lies a completely entertaining goofball of a movie that is about as silly as anything you'd ever see on Mystery Science Theater 3000. And while the crowd on Friday night wasn't quite singing along to Dragon Sound's hit jam “Against The Ninja” and doing roundhouse kicks in the aisles, I'd like to think that everyone at The Belcourt had as good a time seeing this bonkers masterpiece as I did.
And then there's the challenger: the original Red Dawn.
I saw this hog-wild reactionary fantasy when it came out in 1984, and my circle of high-school wiseguys found it as hilarious (and ludicrous) on impact as Miami Connection looks today. It's essentially a big-budget Hollywood remake of the Christploitation classic If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?, only even sillier in the telling. (Somebody should thank the Commies for installing Alexander Nevsky at the heroes' local cinema, for all the good it'll do as brainwashing. The Cuban menace, meanwhile, is represented by Ron "Superfly" O'Neal.)
In the Scene this week, Stephen Trageser cries "Avenge me!" and lets slip the Wolverines of war:
For someone who’s lived more years after the fall of the Berlin Wall than before, it’s easy to forget just how frightening the Soviet Union really was. As the Cold War drew to a close, director John Milius brought the big red bogeyman back for another round in this dark, melodramatic action adventure, in which Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey and other rising Brat Pack all-stars defend their Midwestern town, and the rest of the free world, from a joint force of Soviet, Cuban and Nicaraguan Reds bent on total world domination. The remake, which opens in theaters this weekend, features a strong cast, but North Korea as the invading menace is a harder sale: Today, mentioning that nation is more likely to conjure the Kim Jong-Il marionette from Team America: World Police than the shudders and frowns once elicited by the letters USSR.
So which should you see? Check out Red Dawn at midnight Saturday — it's worth going just to see what drink Mixmaster Pat's cooking up at the Belcourt concession stand — but don't miss Miami Connection tonight, one of the funniest Belcourt midnight movies we've seen yet. (And the smart money'll show up for the 9:35 show of Holy Motors at least one of those nights.)