The Exterminator (1980)
Friday (July 27) and Saturday (July 28) at Midnight

In this weekend’s midnight movie, The Exterminator, a Vietnam veteran decides that it’s his duty to clean up the streets of New York. The Exterminator’s violence is unparalleled, however the cinematic depiction of unresolved behavioral issues stemming from time served in war is fairly common. Consider it another way that cinema attempts to address unresolved historical traumas. Hatched looks at five movies that show a diverse range of soldiers’ psychological conditions as they poorly deal with their traumatic experiences in Vietnam. 

Blood Freak (1972) 
Directed by Brad F. Grinter and Steve Hawks

Herschell is a Vietnam vet / motorcycle rider who finds himself in Florida with lovely ladies and drug addicts. Taking a job at a Turkey farm, he becomes a scientific experiment by eating enhanced turkey meat. Naturally, he becomes a killer turkey who sucks the blood of his victims. Blood Freak leans towards the “bad taste” equation with it’s poor acting, interjected directorial commentary, and, well, a giant turkey-headed murderer. Sure, many horror films of the 1970s brilliantly tackled the tortured experience of a Vietnam soldier returning home; Blood Freak isn’t one of them. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s not damn entertaining. Watch it on Network Awesome. – Caryn Coleman

Deathdream (1972)
Directed by Bob Clark

In Canadian director Bob Clark’s essential horror film, Deathdream, a soldier, Andy Brooks, unexpectedly returns home from Vietnam much to the surprise to his family, who just received word that he died in the field. Colder and more distant than his former self, Andy’s family tries to work him back into his old social routines—seeing his old squeeze, playing with neighborhood kids—but his father becomes a bit concerned for his son after he strangles the family dog and corpses start piling up around town. Released before the end of the war, Deathdream‘s depiction of a veteran pseduo-zombie is both sharp and tasteless, a ballsy depiction of the horror of Vietnam taking form and rampaging through the sheltered suburbs. After all, why should Andy die while everyone else goes on living? – Kris King

Forced Entry (1973)
Directed by Shaun Costello

Forget “torture porn” of the early 2000s, Forced Entry is the real deal; an explosive combination of violent horror and pornography. Upon his return home from Vietnam, a man brutally rapes and kills women who visit the gas station where he works. We’ll leave aside that these acts are desdirected at women and what that may mean to focus on this graphic working-through of the maladjustment soldiers faced when one day they’re sanctioned killers and the next functioning “normal” members of American society. That actual war footage is included in the rape scenes only emphasizes this point. The film’s tag-line proves it: He was taught to kill. Rape was his own idea!  – Caryn Coleman

First Blood (1982)
Directed by Ted Kotcheff

The first time we meet everyone’s favorite PTSD-addled Vietnam Vet, John Rambo, it’s not during some rescue mission in Burma or Cambodia, but in Oregon, where Rambo has taken on the life of a sad-sack drifter. After absorbing abuse from the local police force, Rambo lashes back, inadvertently causing the death of a deputy. A massive manhunt follows, where Rambo resorts to the skills he learned in the jungles of North Vietnam to defend himself from the very people he enlisted to protect. Altered from David Morrell’s original novel, which depicts Rambo as out-of-place and vindictive, First Blood plays the vet as an underdog, an oppressed hero to root for in a society that sees him as a danger. – Kris King

Rolling Thunder (1977)
Directed by John Flynn

Taxi Driver scribe Paul Schrader’s tale of a former POW whose life turns to ashes when he returns home after seven years of living in a hellish prison camp. When Major Charles Rane (William Devane) returns to his family, though, his life begins to quickly unravel. His wife admits that she’s fallen for another man, while his son has no memory of him at all, news that sends the former captive into a tail spin, as he spends his time inflicting the same kind of torture on himself that he endured for most of the previous decade. When a band of thieves kills his family and mangles his hand in a botched robbery, Rane and his war buddy (a very young Tommy Lee Jones) decide to clean house the only way they know how. – Kris King