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Slant Magazine: “Summer of ‘85: Rambo: First Blood Part II


For The House Next Door’s “Summer of ‘85″ series, me and comics artist Benjamin Marra talked a whole bunch about why Rambo: First Blood Part II rules. You may have casually encountered Marra’s artwork for Lil B (6 Kiss and the upcoming Black Ken) and Madlib (Madlib Medicine Show #5: The History of The Loop Digga), and you should totally order his comics Night Business and Gangsta Rap Posse if you’ve not read them. Click below to read our discussion…

Brandon Soderberg: Let’s talk about the waterfall scene towards the end because it inspired this discussion. Basically, Benjamin was part of a panel at the Small Press Expo (SPX) called “The New Action” that was talking to “indie” creators engaged with more visceral narrative styles. At one point in the discussion, Benjamin just kinda lovingly describes the scene, late in Rambo: First Blood Part II, where Rambo fires this explosive arrow at this guy on a waterfall and there’s like one killer beat between the arrow launching and the explosion and then—blam! The guy just gets decimated.

Benjamin Marra: Yeah, that whole scene really resonates with me. I really love it. The music, the way it’s edited, it all just really sticks in my head. I think the scene is emblematic of the action movies around that time. Death Wish 3, Cobra, Commando, The Running Man, Invasion USA, Red Dawn, feel, through the prism of time, completely bizarre. I get the feeling they were constructed without any self-awareness. I can only speculate really that what occurred in those movies at the time they came out was totally acceptable and normal action. That’s at least how I felt about them, but I was pretty young. If any of those movies were released today, they’d probably be perceived as satire.

Written by Brandon

June 29th, 2010 at 5:33 pm

3 Responses to 'Slant Magazine: “Summer of ‘85: Rambo: First Blood Part II'

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  1. That was, honestly, a great discussion about a movie that I really don’t like. It brought me back to my childhood when I consumed a steady diet of Stallone/Schwarzenegger/Bronson action/warno shit. I also watched a huge amount of Hollywood slasher movies and more independent fangoria-type things like ‘Basket Case’ and ‘Street Trash’ (gorno, I guess?).

    I prefer the first ‘First Blood’ (from the interview, it sounds like you liked it too). I like what you said about that film being more of a seventies movie like ‘Billy Jack’ or Walking Tall.’ And, for me, seventies usually, but not always, equals better. I would rather see Stallone go to war with with abusive American authority figures than single-handedly destroying hundreds of third-world commies.

    Conversely, the first ‘Death Wish’ (aside from the awesome Herbie Hancock soundtrack) and the first ‘Dirty Harry’ (with an even better Lalo Schifrin soundtrack) are a better fit for the zero-tolerance eighties, except for the fact that I can still watch and enjoy them without laughing. ‘Death Wish II’, ‘Death Wish 3′, and ‘Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects’, when combined with just the right amount of weed and alcohol, can almost bring me to tears. It’s ironic that, during the eighties (when actual gang warfare was rising to insane new levels), the gangs in ‘Death Wish 3′ would rather terrorize senior citizens than each other.


    30 Jun 10 at 7:00 pm

  2. Brad-
    Sorry it took me a few days to get back to you on this one.

    First, glad you liked the discussion and in some weird way, it was even like, edifying? Particularly because I got a lot of dopey feedback that sorta missed the stuff we were discussing and just saw it as two guys geeking out (though that was part of it).

    The first ‘Rambo’ as I said, is basically a perfect movie. Like, everything about it is so well put together, especially the relative quietness of Rambo all the way until his like too-real-for-movies blow-up about the war.

    ‘Rambo 2′ isn’t as good and it’s a bit messier, but like, the villain of the movie is still Americans dude. It isn’t like the commies are the only villains. I think it’s a broader movie, but the message and themes are there and they’re sophisticated.

    Dead-on about ‘Dirty Harry’ and ‘Death Wish’, especially ‘Dirty Harry’ which is just a like icky movie. I don’t see anything wrong with misrepresenting reality as these movies do–or as First Blood 2 does–but there’s a nihilism to ‘Dirty Harry’ and ‘Death Wish’ that is just awful.

  3. I have got 1 idea for your web site. It appears like at this time there are a handful of cascading stylesheet issues while launching a number of web pages in google chrome as well as safari. It is running fine in internet explorer. Probably you can double check this.


    6 Jun 12 at 7:25 pm

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