Rolling Thunder on Blu-ray

“Rolling Thunder” follows the story of Major Charles Rane (William Devane). On his return to his home town of San Antonio, Texas, he is given a true hero’s welcome. He and his friend, John Vohden (Tommy Lee Jones) have endured eight years of physical and mental torture in a Vietnamese Prisoner Of War camp, and the mental scars run deep. The world around him is just a blur, and he has had all his social skills tortured out of him.

The adjustment to life in ‘Civvy Street’ is not going to be easy. Rane’s wife has been unfaithful with one of his friends. His son, just a year and a half old when Rane was shipped off, doesn’t recall him at all. Rane sees his son as his only bridge back to normality. The world has moved on, but Rane’s imprisonment stopped the clock on his own existence. The gift of a box of silver dollars from an appreciative local community is the spark that leads to tragedy.

Rolling Thunder comes to Blu-rayIn Rane’s own mind, he is a walking dead man – he died the day he was taken prisoner.  Quentin Tarentino lists this movie as one of his favourites, and it is certainly bleak and downbeat to say the least.

Meanwhile, at a local restaurant and bar, Linda (Linda Haynes) takes an interest in Rane, inbetween her job of waiting tables. When he suggests she join him on a road trip, Linda thinks it romantic (after having described herself as being his ‘groupie’). Not for one moment does she realise this is a man on a mission, a mission of revenge. Ms Haynes provides an exclusive interview for this release, and this is definitely an actress of the cult genre. She notes her role in the Japanese SF action movie “Latitude Zero” which remains unreleased in the UK but is worth grabbing if you can handle Region 1 titles, as it is simply ‘off the charts’ in terms of its ludicrous campness.

Indeed, Linda Haynes was so unaware of how much Mr Tarentino appreciated this movie’s pedigree, she turned down a role on ER when Quentin took the Director’s chair - she thought someone was having her on!

When things look like they cannot get any worse in the life of Rane, well, it does. Those experiences as a prisoner are nothing compared to the ordeal he is about to face.  He becomes even more subdued and more distant than when he first returned, if you can believe that possible. He must plan out his own form of justice, with the help of his imprisonment buddy Vohden, only too keen to mix it up a bit, regardless of the consequences. There is no sense of pleasure in his task, only an ice-cold determination of a man who has suffered too much and refuses to be stopped.

Directed by John Flynn (“Lock Up”, “Out for Justice”), it was written by Paul Schrader, who also brought us the likes of “Taxi Driver”, “American Gigolo”, “Raging Bull” and “The Last Temptation of Christ”.

In 1977, the open wound that was the Vietnam War was very much something America had failed to come to terms with. That his hometown welcomed Rane back was something of an anomaly, as the soldiers were very much considered to have failed in their mission, rather than addressing the stark reality that they should never have got involved in the first place.

So, this isn’t a happily-ever-after tale by any stretch if the imagination. I was reminded of the top suppressed news story as described in the book “Censored 2012” (www.sevenstories.com) – that more US soldiers committed suicide than died in combat. War is hell, and anyone who suggests otherwise is more than likely on someone else’s payroll within the military industrial complex. Even now, as the neocons flex their fear-mongering muscles, desperate for an excuse to go to war with Iran, someone ought to ensure a copy of this film is dropped in each and every one of their mailboxes!

The extras on this release include:

  • Audio Commentary with Co-Writer Heywood Gould, Moderated by Roy Frumkes;
  • Theatrical Trailer with Eli Roth Introduction and Commentary;
  • Exclusive Interview with Linda Haynes; and
  • An original TV spot.

“Rolling Thunder” has a running time of 99 minutes approx, an ‘18’ certificate, and a RRP of £22.99 for the combined ‘Double Play’ Blu-ray and DVD set, or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com                 

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