Riders of the Storm Reviews
The six person crew of the B-29 bomber assigned to psychological operations during the Viet Nam conflict become disillusioned with the message they are sending and decide to do something about it. They commandeer their aircraft away from the military and use the specialized equipment to create their own program , called " S&M TV ". Their format is not at all the "Peace and love pabulum" that the reviewer indicated, but random jamming of television signals with classic rock music played over footage of the Viet Nam war, informational films on napalm and it's effects on people, and in one case they jammed a Christian television aerobics class with video footage of Voodoo rituals with Billy Squire singing "Everybody Wants You". Their message is one of counterculture, and exposure of the mockery that has become of truth, justice and the American way. They feel responsible for the actions the government as taken as well as their part in it, and choose to do something about it.
This is revealed in the first 3 minutes of the film, and how anyone can miss it , and instead say " Rather than find work and become productive citizens " is beyond me.
Then along comes Willa Westinghouse , a woman running for president on a war platform. She believes in building up military strength, and using that strength at will for any reason. Backing her is a team of pollsters, a demographic profile of the United States, and the results of a computerized analysis of the way the country is moving. The "Captain" ( Dennis Hopper ) sees this a the gateway to another pointless war, and devotes the efforts of his crew, along with multitudes of fellow broadcast pirates supporting them on the ground, to ensure that she does not get elected.
Far from accusing them of being "Reds" , Westinghouse recognizes S&M TV as a threat to her political future and calls in political favors & makes promises to the Army and Air Force if they will simply shoot them down, killing everyone. At the same time a major television conglomerate is trying to convince them to give up their airborne lifestyle in exchange for a ground based transmitter, and a network program.
Seeing through all of this, the captain keeps the crew on message, the plane in the air ( an amazing scene of working on the engines while airborne , complete with opera music ) and eventually coming head to head with the potential president.
While the message is anti-war, it's not because of peace and love but instead because the crew has seen enough of their friends and family killed, the perceived lies that the government put forward, and to make sure that America does not get into another Viet Nam type conflict. In a heated speech "The Captain" says that if we are to put out the battle flags, that they will fight, but not unless there is a good reason behind it.
While you will laugh at the antics, and point out the very dated technology, and maybe some will not be shocked as much as upset by the ending ( not to give it away, but there will be debate and gnashing of teeth over the reason why Westinghouse loses her bid for president ) there is still a serious message underlying the lampooning of the world as we know it.
All I can say is , watch the film before you try to review it. With some films you can get away with not watching it and still write a passing review, but in this case it's the failboat for whoever wrote the synopsis.
Upon rewatching: This movie is AWESOMELY WRONG!! Glorious.
But it came out in 1986, not 1988.
Yup, second time around, with others watching, much more doable. Don't watch this one alone. It's just too much for one person to handle.