Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Battleground USSA - Red Dusk by Christopher Blair

Battleground USSA - Red Dusk
by Max Auger (Christopher Blair)
Blood & Tacos 2015

First a word about the series this spun out of.  Blood & Tacos is the literary equivalent of the fake trailers from Grindhouse.

I like all of these for different reasons, but Eli Roth's Thanksgiving is the only one that could be mistaken for the real deal if you weren't paying close attention.  There are a lot of directions to go when doing these kind of homages:

You can be influenced by the original but do your own thing, like Rob Zombie or Quentin Tarantino.  You can lovingly lampoon the source material like Edgar Wright.  You can aim at the source material but miss because you vastly overestimate the power of post-production like Robert Rodriguez.  Or you can just do the thing in the genre you're doing the thing in, respecting and loving the source material.  Thanksgiving was pretty much a straightforward 80s slasher trailer, turned up just a notch.

Blood & Tacos is a direct riff off these trailers, to the point of having a Machete style character.  The conceit is that they are a series of chapters of recently discovered Men's Adventure novels from the 80s.  I wasn't a huge fan of the first installment, as I felt most of the stories were played a little too much for laughs and didn't have a firm grasp of the material they were making fun of.

The exception was USSA Texasgrad, which if anything was a little too wry.  Luckily, in this novella length expansion, things are turned up a notch without getting too jokey.

There's very little backstory, so the reader kind of has to make it up on their own.  Russia has invaded America and taken over much of the west coast.  Both sides have had their military decimated.  I pictured it as being like years after Red Dawn, which the title kind of implies.

Air Force Captain Mike McCreary takes a team to Alaska to investigate reports of the Russians building a bridge across to Bering Strait and ends up facing down the Chinese navy.  It's played pretty straight - straighter than Jerry Ahern even, but there are occasional winks.  McCreary turns a little apple pie John Wayne in a few places, and there's a running joke about liberal slaves the Russians captured from San Francisco still in disbelief that the Russians don't live in a worker's paradise.

It was a fun little tribute, and it was good to see someone doing it without looking down their nose.

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