It’s considered a cult classic today, but “Red Dawn” served up plenty of cheese along with its stirring story of young Americans battling against a Communist invasion. The film’s critical drubbing was about more than just storytelling hiccups, says National Review contributor John J. Miller.

“Better dead than Red Dawn,” sneered the Washington Post’s Rita Kempley, who called the film “sick and silly.” Janet Maslin of the New York Times labeled it “rabidly inflammatory,” “incorrigibly gung-ho,” and “a virulently alarmist fable.” Bob Thomas of the Associated Press condemned its “bathos” as “unrelenting.” Perhaps these were the honest assessments of dispassionate reviewers….

The makers of Red Dawn, complained Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times, “spent too much time playing to the rabid anti-Commies.” You know: The movie must be awful because those icky conservatives approve of it. Even today, many liberals resort to knee-jerk denunciations: “Its guiding ideology is actually fascism,” wrote David Plotz of Slate in 2008.

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