Posts Tagged ‘quentin tarantino’

Holiday slasher triple-feature @ The Cinefamily: Part 1

October 25, 2009

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Last Thursday at the Cinefamily, there was an amazing triple feature of three classic “holiday” theme slashers from the 80’s, as part of their slasher retrospective this month. A “holiday” slasher is one of many sub-genres, that include the “summer camp” slasher and the “campus” slasher, to name a few. Since HALLOWEEN took the best holiday, all subsequent slashers had to take whatever was left on the calendar. I’m still waiting for an Easter slasher movie.

One of the best of the “holiday” slashers was the original MY BLOODY VALENTINE from 1981. It is also one of my favorite “non-franchise” slashers and I’ve seen it many times over since its theatrical release, but it has not had a revival screening to speak of at all, as far as I know of. When the Cinefamily announced that they not only found a 35mm print of it, but that it was an UNCUT print, I couldn’t wait to check it out. Add director GEORGE MIHALKA for an in person Q and A and you got yourselves one happy slasher movie fan!

Then a few hours before the screening I received a panicked call from my friend Gariana Abeyta of THE POPCORN MAFIA. She was serving as projectionist for the evening at the Cinefamily and she needed help figuring out the order of the reels for the film because the print they got wasn’t numbered. It just had these bizarre symbols marking each reel. She had never seen MY BLOODY VALENTINE before and since I’ve seen it almost too many times, I hightailed it to the theatre to lend my expertise in the matter. Actually, they had it pretty well under control by the time I got there, but I did provide a ruling on what the final reel was when I received a text while en route to the theatre that read, “WHEN IN THE MOVIE DOES THE FAT GUY WITH GLASSES GET SHOT IN THE HEAD WITH A NAIL?”

When I arrived, I discovered that the infamous UNCUT version was not what they had received. Although the collector they got it from insisted that there was one bit of cut gore that had been spliced into it from the workprint, there was no way of telling what kind of Frankenstein of a print they had until we all watched it together in it’s entirety. The print itself still had a lot of color, but was pretty scratchy and grinded out. It took major projection skills to pull off as seamless a presentation as Gariana did that night. But more on all that later.

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“It happened once. It happened twice. Cancel the dance, or it will happen thrice!” – Harry Warden

The original MY BLOODY VALENTINE is a great fucking movie that is a joy to see in a theatre with an audience of avid horror fans. It is one of the many slasher films that were released in the year of 1981 and anyone growing up during that golden age can remember them coming out almost week after week. THE BURNING, FINAL EXAM, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, HELL NIGHT, THE PROWLER, MADMAN, GRADUATION DAY, HALLOWEEN II, THE FUNHOUSE, STUDENT BODIES and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME are a few of the great slashers that came out that same year, but MY BLOODY VALENTINE was the best of them all.

It’s the most blue collar slasher film ever made. Every character looks like they grew up in a small steel town. Bad clothes, worse haircuts and the cast consists of normal looking people, unlike the 3-D remake where everybody looked like they were out of the new BEVERLY HILLS 90210. It even has a fat guy who everybody turns to for strength and guidance.

The film is about a particularly nasty love triangle that erupts between three old friends in a mining town called Valentine Bluffs. T.J. has returned home to find his best buddy Axle has hooked up with his old girlfriend Sarah. T.J. is the son of the owner of the mine where he and Axle both work.

To compound the tension, it’s Valentine’s Day and it looks like old Harry Warden has escaped from the booby hatch, where he was sent after massacring a whole bunch of folks at the last Valentine’s Day dance held in the town. He went nuts after being the sole survivor of a mine cave-in and had to resort to cannibalism to stay alive. Christ on a cracker!

Looks like he’s back now, still donning his miner uniform and gasmask, and still killing people with his trusty pickaxe. But when the Sheriff shuts down the first Valentine dance in years, those crazy kids throw one of their own at the mine. Bad idea as they are “picked” off one by one.

Harry Warden has a bone to "pick" with you! Alright, I'll stop.

Harry Warden has a bone to "pick" with you! Alright, I'll stop.

That's one fucked up Valentine!

That's one fucked up Valentine!

Doing laundry at the launderette already sucks. Jesus Harry!

Doing laundry at the launderette already sucks. Jesus Harry!

"No really, I don't want a hot dog!"

"No really, I don't want a hot dog!"

"MY EYE!"

"MY EYE!"

MY BLOODY VALENTINE is a very grimy and mean slasher film that is genuinely entertaining and provides a lot of great scares, as well as the creepiest fucking ending ever. Despite a couple drawbacks, that include a cast of inexperienced actors and a hatchet job by the MPAA on all the gore scenes, the film succeeds on all levels.

One thing I’ve always noticed about it, is that the film reminds me a lot of MICHAEL CIMINO’S classic Vietnam drama, THE DEER HUNTER. The mining town location and the love triangle are very aesthetically similar to each other. It’s as if they took the ROBERT DENIRO, CHRISTOPHER WALKEN, and MERRYL STREEP relationship and substituted a masked killer for ‘Nam. I’ve had in depth conversations with other slasher fanatics, where I’ve explained this theory and have been scoffed at rudely. I’ll get back to this.

The cut gore scenes have become a source of legend among horror fans for many years. Back in 1981 the MPAA made an example of it and forced them to trim almost everything bloody out. Just recently a special edition DVD was released with most of the violence reinstated. That’s why the idea of showing a 35mm print of the uncut version was so amazing. Well the print we saw that night at the Cinefamily was the trimmed theatrical version, except for one of the best moments from the uncut workprint! It had been spliced in and involved something particularly crazy that happens right at the already freakish finale. I won’t ruin the surprise if you’ve never seen it before, but let’s just say it gives a new meaning to the term “coyote arm”.

After the film, Hadrian Belove showed a montage he compiled of the edited gore from the movie and the crowd loved it. Then, Brian Collins from HORROR MOVIE A DAY and BLOODY DISGUSTING introduced director GEORGE MIHALAKA who came up and did a great Q and A.

Brian Collins interviews MY BLOODY VALENTINE director, GEORGE MIHALKA.

Brian Collins interviews MY BLOODY VALENTINE director, GEORGE MIHALKA.

He talked about how they set out to make one of the craziest, funniest and most violent slasher films ever made. It was shot quick and cheap up in Canada with an all Canadian cast and crew and picked up for distribution by Paramount. It was a rush to get the film done, because if they didn’t make the February 14th release date, no money.

He said the reason the MPAA decided to take all the gore out was a direct result of the John Lennon assassination and a sweeping backlash against violence in movies. MY BLOODY VALENTINE had the bad luck of being the scapegoat of the week.

He also said that there was even more violence than the stuff from the uncut version, that was originally in the first cut. One scene that has never been in any release, involved a couple having sex that are impaled together with a large drill blade and the guy vomits blood into the girls mouth. It was so gory the MPAA said “We don’t even want to discuss it, just get rid of it.”

It was shot in a real mine shaft and they used a special grade of film stock that was used by the great cinematographer VILMOS ZSIGMOND on of all films, THE DEER HUNTER. This prompted me to ask the question to the only man who could prove my theory, the director. I asked if THE DEER HUNTER was any inspiration for his film at all, for which he replied “We totally ripped it off!”.  I nailed that shit!

GEORGE MIHALKA confirms my MY BLOODY VALENTINE/THE DEER HUNTER theory.

GEORGE MIHALKA confirms my MY BLOODY VALENTINE/THE DEER HUNTER theory.

In attendance that night was director ELI ROTH, who was sporting a THANKSGIVING t-shirt. Because it was a holiday slasher night, I had worn my THANKSGIVING t-shirt to the event as well. In what could have been an embarrassing moment, we both bumped into each other and when he noticed I was wearing the shirt for his hilarious 80’s slasher spoof trailer, he got really excited. “Dude, awesome shirt! Wasn’t my trailer totally MY BLOODY VALENTINE?” he asked me. I told him that he nailed the tone and look of it perfectly and that I could not wait for the THANKSGIVING feature film he plans on making.

ELI ROTH and I sport our THANKSGIVING t-shirts.

ELI ROTH and I sport our THANKSGIVING t-shirts.

During the Q and A, ELI ROTH told GEORGE MIHALKA that the amazing end credits song, THE BALLAD OF HARRY WARDEN by PAUL ZAZA is one of he and QUENTIN TARANTINO’S favorite songs and that TARANTINO was so obsessed with it, he played it constantly while they were filming INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. He added that he and QT mentioned the song to horror filmmaker ALEXANDER AJA while they were all hanging out together and he too was a huge fan. They all started singing the song together and I leave you with the lyrics of THE BALLAD OF HARRY WARDEN. I will post Part 2 of my coverage of this triple feature soon and discuss APRIL FOOL’S DAY and the amazing yuletide slasher, DON’T OPEN ‘TILL CHRISTMAS. For now, gather the kids by the fire and sing along…

Once upon a time, on a sad Valentine,

in a place known as Henniger Mine.

A legend began, every woman and man,

would always remember the time.

And those who remain, were never the same,
you could see, the fear in their eyes.
Once every year, as the fourteenth draws near,
there’s a hush all over the town.

For the legend they say, on a Valentine’s Day,
is a curse, that’ll live on and on.
And no will know, as the years come and go,
of the horror from long time ago.

Twenty years came and went, and everyone spent,
the fourteenth, in quiet regret.
And those still alive, know the secret survives,
in the darkness, that looms in the night.

For the legend they say, on a Valentine’s Day,
is a curse, that’ll live on and on.
And no one will know, as the years come and go,
of the horror, from long time ago.

In this little town, when the fourteenth comes ’round,
there’s a silence, and fear in the air.
Remember the morn, that the legend was born,
all the shock, and the horror was there.

For the legend they say, on a Valentine’s Day,
is a curse, that’ll live on and on.
And no one will know, as the years come and go,
of the horror, from long time ago.

And no one will know, as the years come and go,
of the horror, from long time ago.

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MOPAR madness double feature and QT too!!!

October 7, 2009
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Polaroid by Cat.

I’ve been so busy doing crazy nerd stuff lately, I almost forgot to tell you about this very cool double bill at the New Beverly Cinema last week. It was a one night only screening of the European cut of QUENTIN TARANTINO’S DEATH PROOF (never before screened in the U.S.) and one of the greatest and most intelligent car chase movies ever made, VANISHING POINT (1971). Being a big fan of both films, as well as a HUGE gearhead, I had no choice but to jump behind the wheel of my own muscle car and race to the theatre to catch a double dose of MOPAR madness!

This is the white 1970 Dodge Challenger that is the star of both DEATH PROOF and VANISHING POINT.

This is the white 1970 Dodge Challenger that is the star of both DEATH PROOF and VANISHING POINT.

For those of you who are not in the know, MOPAR stands for MOtor PARts that are exclusively made by CHRYSLER and used on certain vehicles under the CHRYSLER, DODGE and PLYMOUTH banner, which had it’s heyday in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Cars like the CHARGER, SUPER BEE, ROAD RUNNER, DEMON, GTX, BARRACUDA, DUSTER and the CHALLENGER are all classic MOPAR’S that ruled the streets with their big block engines (440-6, HEMI), bright paint jobs (HEMI-ORANGE, SUB-LIME GREEN) and incredible designs and engineering. They were among the coolest and most badass muscle cars of that, or any other era in American automotive history. Drive one and you’ll understand why nothing beats Detroit metal and no imported tuner car can hold a candle to them.

The white 1970 DODGE CHALLENGER is a major part of both DEATH PROOF and VANISHING POINT. DEATH PROOF references VANISHING POINT a lot and is the reason ZOE BELL wants to ride on the hood of a CHALLENGER so much. The ’70 CHALLENGERS in both films are pushed to the limit of their awesome powers and are featured in incredible car chases.

Before DEATH PROOF started, we received a pretty awesome surprise. QUENTIN TARANTINO was in the house and came up to the stage to introduce his film. If you’ve never seen QT talk about one of his own movies before, his enthusiasm is infectious and makes you love the film in question even more.

QT revs up the New Bev crowd! Photo by Cat.

QT revs up the New Bev crowd! Polaroid by Cat.

QT is such a huge nerd that he actually wore his own costume from DEATH PROOF to the screening! He talked about how this was his cut of the film that was shown at Cannes in 2007 and released in Europe. He was very happy with the fact that DEATH PROOF is really loved and admired in France, where it is known as BOULEVARD DE LA MORT. After his intro, he took a seat in the packed theatre with the rest of us and we all sat back and watched DEATH PROOF. It was fucking great!

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I loved DEATH PROOF back in 2007, when it was released as the second feature of GRINDHOUSE, along with ROBERT RODRIGUEZ’S PLANET TERROR. I remember thinking that it was not only the better overall film between the two, but that it was also the only thing about GRINDHOUSE that wasn’t a parody of some sort. I was expecting it to be a slasher movie with a car (which the first half is), but I didn’t expect it to turn into a cross between a 70’s car chase epic and a RUSS MEYER film (which the second half does brilliantly). It rounded out the whole GRINDHOUSE experience and elevated it to a level of high art, while totally appealing to my love for 80’s slasher films, hot girls and muscle cars, all in one film! I love how the first act (there are only two) is a slow build and you’re not really sure what’s going on until the big car crash, where Stuntman Mike’s motivations become all too clear. The final car chase is brilliant and exciting, but most importantly, it is a showdown between not one, but two of the greatest classic MOPAR’S ever created. THE 1970 DODGE CHALLENGER VS. THE 1970 DODGE CHARGER, which is the muscle car equivalent to KING KONG VS. GODZILLA!

Stuntman Mike has some serious sexual hang ups.

Stuntman Mike has some serious sexual hang ups.

He also shares a foot fetish with the director.

He also shares a foot fetish with the director.

A gearhead's wet dream of a car chase! '70 DODGE CHALLENGER VS. '70 DODGE CHARGER!

A gearhead's wet dream of a car chase! '70 DODGE CHALLENGER VS. '70 DODGE CHARGER!

After the movie, QT took the stage and conducted a 45 minute Q and A session, where he talked a lot about the film and how much he enjoyed making it. There were a few cast and crew members in attendance, including former Basterd, OMAR DOOM. All the great music from the Texas Chili Parlor scene is from QT’S own jukebox AMi, which is the one in the movie. He also said, that listening to the laughter and applause from the New Bev audience for his movie was music to his ears and he thanked us for that. I hadn’t seen DEATH PROOF in awhile and I must say that after watching it by itself in the theatre, it is truly a great movie. Next up was ZOE BELL’S favorite movie…

vanish

VANISHING POINT is about a man named Kowalski (played by BARRY NEWMAN) who takes a job to drive a brand new, white ’70 Dodge Challenger from Colorado to California. When he picks up some speed from his drug dealer for the trip, they make a crazy bet on how fast he can get there for the cost of the drugs. Almost immediately the cops are on his tail as he drives top speed through the state, but they can’t catch Kowalski in his killer Challenger and he becomes a folk hero with the aid of a blind disc jockey, played by CLEAVON LITTLE.

This is Kowalski! You can't stop him!

This is Kowalski! You can't stop him!

But they do try.

But they do try.

A naked hippie babe on a chopper!

A naked hippie babe on a chopper!

VANISHING POINT is like one long car chase of a movie with an existentialist riff on alienation and how freedom has been sacrificed for conformity in the post-industrial age. Seriously, this is one deep movie! Kowalski is a hero, simply because he refuses to stop for the police and I love the living shit out of it for that. The ending of this movie is the perfect statement of non-conformity. If you’ve never seen it before, you must!

That was one great double feature with an awesome surprise appearance by QT! Programming those two together was genius. Thanks again New Bev! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to look through the latest Auto Trader for an old MOPAR to fix up!

Vanishing Point

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The Grindhouse Film Festival presents: SUPERVAN (1977) and THE VAN (1977)

September 11, 2009

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One of the coolest ongoing events in the revival house scene is The Grindhouse Film Festival presented by Brian Quinn and Eric Caidin at the New Beverly Cinema. Twice a month, Brian and Eric present a double feature of two rare exploitation films (shown in 35mm) from the “golden era” of the grindhouses that once dotted Times Square’s 42nd Street in New York. I’ve seen so many great and not so great films, that I never would have even known about, thanks to them. Films like RAW FORCE, IMPULSE, CROCODILE, STANLEY, THE HEADLESS EYES, THE REDEEMER, ISLA: SHE WOLF OF THE S.S., VAMPIRE HOOKERS, THE MUTHERS, PSYCHO FROM TEXAS, ENCOUNTER OF THE SPOOKY KIND II, CHAINED HEAT, THE DOLL SQUAD and many more. No matter if the movies are good, bad or just cheesy enough to be fun, the grindhouse always attracts a great crowd of savvy movie freaks who are just as entertaining as the films are. Last Tuesday the boys threw an “end of the summer” double bill with two classics from the free wheelin’ 70’s, SUPERVAN and THE VAN. It was really awesome.

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thevan

The evening began with the usual raffle, that was followed by a reel of vintage trailers, which included AT THE EARTH’S CORE, an amazing looking blaxploitation flick called J.D.’S REVENGE (“I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE!” exclaims J.D. the badass pimp), and THE INCREDIBLE TWO HEADED TRANSPLANT with Bruce Dern. Then it was time for our “feature presentation”…

Never fear, it's SUPERVAN!!

Never fear, it's SUPERVAN!!

Brian Quinn said that he’d been sitting on the scratchy old print of SUPERVAN for over six months now and had no idea what to expect. It begins with a crude title card thrown on with the SUPERVAN logo and then we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the 70’s van-culture at its peak. It’s a “regional” film that looks like it was shot somewhere in the mid-west on a 16mm camera. The opening begins with a massive van convoy complete with C.B. radios and a title song that croons, “I’m riding high in my Supervan”. We meet our hero Clint, who is driving his groovy van (called MORGAN THE PIRATE) to the 2nd annual VAN FREAKOUT. But when a vicious motorcycle gang has the audacity to announce their plans to rape a young lady over the C.B. airwaves, Clint rescues the girl and unintentionally gets his prize van crushed in a junkyard while hiding from the hoodlums. Luckily the girl he rescued is the daughter of the evil corporate oil tycoon, T.B. Trenton of Trenton Oil (The oil that loves you). He plans on winning the VAN FREAKOUT competition with an amazing solar-powered custom van called VANDORA, that’s equipped with a working laser turret! VANDORA was designed by the king of car customizers GEORGE BARRIS. He’s the man responsible for the original Batmobile from the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman T.V. show, the Monkeemobile from The Monkees, The Munsters car and many others.

Vandora the amazing SUPERVAN!

George Barris and Vandora the amazing SUPERVAN!

It was a model too!

It was a model too!

Clint steals it and along with his buddy and the bosses daughter, takes it on an interstate chase that reminded me of a low budget SMOKEY AND THE BANDT (which included a young Uncle Leo from SEINFELD as a Sheriff). Once they arrive at the FREAKOUT, VANDORA sweeps the competition and the movie ends with an awesome closing credits van montage. By the way, all of the songs on the “soft” rock soundtrack are about vans.

There was a short intermission followed by trailers for CAR WASH, a sleazy 70’s sex comedy called THE POM POM GIRLS and an amazing sci-fi-ish kung fu flick called DEATH MACHINES (which I actually have on DVD and it’s awesome!).

Then came Crown International’s release of THE VAN (Brian mentioned the print was borrowed from Quentin Tarantino’s personal collection) which tells the coming of age story of our red headed “hero” Bobby and his attempts to get laid in his newly purchased customized van. Bobby works at a car wash (run by a young DANNY DeVITO in one of his first roles) where he is constantly harassed by his coworkers for not being cool. But that’s all over when he plunks down the money he’s saved up for a new, bright yellow van called THE STRAIGHT ARROW (wink, wink) equipped with a waterbed, mirrored ceiling, C.B. radio, fridge, T.V., 8 track stereo, and a toaster. Bobby cruises around pinball joints and pizza parlors, picks up a fat girl that breaks his waterbed, attempts to score with another girl (that borderlines on date rape) and drag races a bully named Dugan in his van (named THE VAN KILLER) after making it with his chick. He even tells someone to “Sit on it!”, which they do.

This double feature really transported me back to a magical 70’s world where any fad could be made into a movie! A world where gas was only 57 cents a gallon and all it took to get some lovin’ was a custom van. I loved that in both of these movies all the vans from that time period were an extension of the owners personality and had special names like VANS AM, VANTIQUATED, VANQUATIC, SPACE TRIPPER, THE FREEDOM MACHINE, HOT STUFF, STOWE AWAY, INSANITY, and HALF BREED. Also, they were all painted in bright colors, covered in thick shag carpeting and airbrushed with all kinds of stuff like unicorns, spaceships, barbarian babes, and even the flames of Hell. It was a great night and when it was over I felt almost as stoned as the people who made those movies and you know what? I was. Keep on truckin’!

Inglourious Basterds: my review is almost as long as the movie!

August 24, 2009

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This review contains spoilers.

It’s funny, but just a few moments before seeing a midnight show of INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS at the Cinerama Dome, the subject of “name your favorite Tarantino movie” came up at our table in the Arclight bar. Everyone had a different one. For some it’s PULP FICTION, while others prefer KILL BILL. My favorite was still the brilliant RESERVOIR DOGS (well for another 2 and a half hours it would be), but I’m getting ahead of myself. The conclusion I came to from this conversation was that Quentin Tarantino can make a bank heist film, a gangster film, a blaxsploitation film, a revenge film, a slasher movie and a WW II film and the result is going to always be the same. Regardless of the genre, it’s gonna be a Quentin Tarantino movie and it’s not going to be predictable.

I think I first heard about this movie, when it was being referred to as GLORIOUS BASTARDS, in an Ain’t It Cool News posting almost 10 years ago. QT said he was working on a script that was going to be a WWII movie in the spirit of THE DIRTY DOZEN. He ended up doing KILL BILL instead, but the project was always rumored to be his next. Over the years it has taken on an almost “legendary” status as a movie that the vast geek community has been looking forward to with great anticipation. I remembered reading once that he was going to make it into three separate films, because he had written so mammoth an epic. It wasn’t long after GRINDHOUSE was released that the rumors surfaced again. This time it was called INGLORIOUS BASTARDS and the reports had us believe initially that it was a remake of the same titled film by legendary Italian filmmaker ENZO G. CASTELLARI and who knows, maybe it was. Maybe, but I doubt it because Tarantino can’t make anything that doesn’t exist in HIS universe and under HIS rules. When I read that it was only “inspired” by the CASTELLARI film and was now called INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, I knew we were gonna see something much more unique than we could expect and I was correct.

Brad Pitt is Lt. Aldo Raine and he wants his scalps.

Brad Pitt is Lt. Aldo Raine and he wants his scalps.

The Cinerama Dome was packed for the midnight show on Thursday night and I was very anxious for the film to start. I knew absolutely nothing about the plot details (even though I’ve had the entire script downloaded on my hard drive for almost a year now), which is my preferred way of seeing all movies, especially a Tarantino movie. I’ve learned from the first time I saw RESERVOIR DOGS that the joy that comes from viewing his movies are all the great “surprises” you always receive. His films are like Christmas and only an impatient lunkhead ruins the surprise of knowing what they’re getting for Christmas. Old Santa Claus himself was in the house that night as Quentin Tarantino took the Dome stage to introduce the film and was greeted with an impromptu standing ovation from the entire crowd. Now, I’ve been in the Dome on midnight showings where the director’s intro’d the movie before. Even Michael Bay got an enthusiastic round of applause at the TRANSFORMERS 2 screening, but I’ve never seen that savvy Hollywood crowd give it up so hard as for QT. Fuck the guys earned it already and BASTERDS only drives it home further. Kinda like the Bear Jew cracking a Nazi’s skull!

Christoph Waltz is the "jew hunter", Col. Hans Landa.

Christoph Waltz is the "jew hunter", Col. Hans Landa.

INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS begins with an homage to the legendary Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone and anyone familiar with the opening of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY will be in geek heaven. Although we are in nazi-occupied France in 1941, the scene is straight-up spaghetti western including the “borrowed” Ennio Morricone music that dominates most of the soundtrack. In this opening we meet the most charismatic personification of pure evil I’ve ever seen in a “movie” villian, Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz in a performance that deserves all the praise it’s getting) a.k.a. the “jew” hunter. The ‘cat and mouse’ way he verbally plays with a helpless French dairy farmer that is hiding a jewish family under their very feet is brilliantly written and performed. Like many opening scenes in a QT movie, this one sets up two major characters who will play a larger role in the events to come. And so ends Chapter One…

The Basterds love carving themselves a swastika on a Nazi forehead or two.

The Basterds love carving themselves a swastika on a Nazi forehead or two.

In Chapter Two we meet the “Inglourious Basterds”, a covert squad of eight jewish-american soldiers led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt), an ex-moonshine runner from the hills of Tennessee who just so happens to have a little Apache blood in his veins for added color. They’ve been dropped behind enemy lines in France to collect as many Nazi scalps as they can and they all really enjoy their work. Like “The Bear Jew” (Eli Roth joyously hamming it up with a 40’s era Boston accent) who loves working on his batting average by cracking open a Nazi skull or two. But my favorite Basterd is the German born Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger) who is “inducted” into the squad for his proficiency in murdering SS officers and is given his own ‘blaxsploitation’ styled intro. Even Hitler knows of their methods and how they “mark” their only survivors with a swastika carved on to their foreheads. This stuff is all awesome and does a great job of establishing the “men” on the mission. But I would soon discover that INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is a movie that’s more about the “mission” itself and the many people that play a part in it all…

Melanie Laurent is Shosanna Dreyfus, a movie theatre owner in Paris with a score to settle.

Melanie Laurent is Shosanna Dreyfus, a movie theatre owner in Paris with a score to settle.

The third chapter introduces us to a Parisian cinema owner named Shosanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), who is ‘secretly’ the lone jewish survivor of Col. Landa’s cruelty from the film’s opening. She has found herself in a position where she can extract vengeance on the people responsible for murdering her family. A Nazi war hero named Frederick Zoller (Daniel Bruhl) is smitten with her and arranges for the premiere of a new German film made about his exploits at her cinema. All the highest ranking officers of the Third Reich will be in attendance to watch the film, including none other than Hitler, himself. She agrees to host the event with the intention of burning all the Nazi’s to death, by torching the theatre and the highly flammable 35mm “nitrate” film collection it holds. But will the appearance of Col. Landa throw off the plan if he recognizes her…

The fourth chapter is about the formation and execution of “Operation Kino”, an Allied Forces mission that involves the blowing up of the cinema hosting the Nazi premiere in Paris. Lt. Archie Hicox (Michael Fassbender) is sent by the OSS into France where he is to rendezvous with the Basterds and meet up with Bridget Von Hammersmark, a double agent who also happens to be a famous German starlet. The meeting is held in the basement of a French pub and is one of the most tense sequences in the film, where they are interrogated by a Gestapo officer with a keen ear for accents. The scene gets messy, but the Basterds prevail and get a little closer to their main goal: blow up the theatre with Hitler in it…

Chapter five is all about the night of the premiere and the mission being carried out. There’s a montage set to a David Bowie song from the movie CAT PEOPLE and moments that reminded me of CARRIE, CINEMA PARADISO and the Italian horror film DEMONS. It is an incredibly gonzo sequence and Tarantino brings it all together for a climax that is probably the most satisfying I’ve ever seen. What’s not to love about a WWII film that features Adolf Hitler’s face being ripped apart by sub machine gun fire?

Quentin Tarantino’s INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is the most insanely violent, brazen and hilarious war movie ever made and is his most accomplished and well written film to date, in my opinion. This is not the “men on a mission” movie we were led to believe it would be, but I think that it is to the film’s benefit. We get to meet the Basterds and see them in action, but most of the team are given no screen time at all. That’s because INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is not about the “men” so much as it’s about the “mission” and all the people and events that lead to it’s conclusion. QT has proven once again that he can tackle any genre, deconstruct it and re-imagine it, all in a way we’ve never seen before and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

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