It’s the sixth episode of the seven-part miniseries IT CAME FROM SYNDICATION! This time around, I continue my look at syndicated television from the 1980s and 1990s with a look at the “drama” category, which encompasses action, science fiction, and horror. I’m joined by friend and fellow podcaster Michael Bailey (Views from the Longbox) to talk about everything from Friday the 13th: The Series to Highlander.
It’s our 75th episode and that means it’s time for another look at another movie about the Vietnam War. This time around, I’m joined by fellow TTF podcaster Luke Jaconetti (Earth Destruction Directive) to talk about the 1982 Sylvester Stallone movie First Blood as well as its 1985 sequel, Rambo: First Blood Part II. We talk about each movie’s plot and characters as well as the novel First Blood by David Morell, and then talk about the pop culture phenomenon that was Rambo in the mid-1980s.
CONTENT WARNING: THIS EPISODE CONTAINS EXPLICIT LANGUAGE.
In one of my classes today, I was covering the end of Frankenstein. If you’re unfamiliar with the novel, it doesn’t end as spectacularly as most film versions. As Mary Shelley writes it, Victor Frankenstein dies from a prolonged sickness brought about by the anguish of dealing with the monster he created and what that monster has done to his life by murdering those around him. Then, the monster shows up and tells Captain Walton (to whom Frankenstein was telling his story) that he has no reason to live either and will go commit suicide. Surely enough, he ventures out into the Arctic ice presumably to die.
As I was recapping this for my students and we were discussing what parts of this scene represents, I went off on a little bit of a tangent as to what Frankenstein would be like if it were a 1980s-era Schwarzenegger movie (with Schwarzenegger as the monster). Walton, probably played by a relative unknown although this would be a great part for a Cobra-era Stallone, sees the monster run off. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” he screams before telling his men to turn the ship around and follow the monster while he goes below to suit up.
A few moments later, Walton comes back armed to the teeth and says, “It’s payback time. THIS IS FOR VICTOR!” and starts opening fire with a vast array of automatic weapons (which I realize were not invented in 1816, but this is a motherfucking action sequence so you can suspend disbelief). The monster is gunned down in a hail of bullets — I think I compared it to the scene in Predator where Jesse Ventura gets his guts blown out and Bill Duke mows down half of the Amazon in rage — and there is a heroic song by Stan Bush or 707 to take us through the closing credits.
Of course, this never did happen and will never happen, but it is a testimony to how my mind has been warped over the years by viewing too many action movies. That’s not an unusual thing, of course — every boy in my generation had at least one G.I. Joe figure in the 1980s and at some point before we left elementary school we graduated from Star Wars and cartoons to R-rated violence and gratuitous bloodshed with a high body count.
For me, it started when I was in the fourth grade with Commando.