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From the Archive: Rolling Thunder


If you caught a screening of Brothers this weekend—or even a trailer, really—you may be just about melodrama’d out. In which case, we’d suggest a pulpier take on the “soldier’s return” genre. With a side of hook-hand.

1977’s Rolling Thunder comes from the uniquely crazed Paul Schrader, of Taxi Driver fame, and while it’s supposedly coming to terms with Vietnam, it’s more interested in wild-eyed violence and antisocial rage. The result is something like Death Wish meets Coming Home, following Major Charles Rane as he returns to a country curdled with violent discontent, loses his family to bandits and proceeds to exact bloody vengeance. Did we mention he has a hook for a hand?

It’s equal parts cartoon and nightmare—the standard ratio for most 70s exploitation fare—but bizarre and socially resonant enough to earn a second life among pulp obscurists, and a place on Quentin Tarantino’s ever-shifting top ten list. And after the cryfest of Brothers, it might be just what you need