Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Original Bastards

The inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s latest motion picture, The Inglorious Bastards is a rousing 1978 knock-off of The Dirty Dozen and similar military adventures from Italian exploitation maestro, Enzo G. Castellari (The New Gladiators, The Big Racket).

Set during WWII, Bastards tells of five condemned American soldiers, who, on their way to court martial and imprisonment for various crimes, escape from their convoy during a Nazi attack, and decide to head for neutral Switzerland. They soon meet up with and are joined by a German deserter, who helps them get past various enemy obstacles. But when the Bastards accidentally wipe out a squad of American commandos (to be fair, the commandos were disguised as Nazis) they find themselves volunteering for a suicide mission to steal a V2 warhead from a Nazi train deep inside enemy
-occupied territory.

Starring veteran exploitation stars Fred Williamson (Hammer, Black Ceasar) and Bo Svenson (Walking Tall Part 2), Bastards is a highly entertaining war movie filled with wild stunts, sly humor and some spectacular low-tech special effects work. Castellari has
made movies in virtually every genre, from violent, gritty cop/crime dramas to post-Apocalyptic Road Warrior rip-offs, and the most consistent element in his work is a genuine flair for exciting action. The Inglorious Bastards is never boring, and if the story is completely unbelievable, it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.

Previously released on DVD by Severin Films, the company inaugurates its Blu-Ray program with this upgraded, feature-packed re-issue. Featuring a remarkable new 1.85:1, 1080HD transfer and robust Dolby 5.1 Surround audio (a stereo track is also included), Bastards has probably never looked this good. Sure, it shows its age and won’t be confused with a 2009 feature, but the image quality is sharp, with rich colors and fine detail, and no notable print damage.

The Blu-Ray edition includes all of the features of the original 2-disc DVD, with a director’s audio commentary, an entertaining and enthusiastic on-screen conversation between Quentin Tarantino and director Castellari, a featurette on the locations used for filming, and an in-depth, behind the scenes documentary featuring interviews with much of the cast and crew, including Castellari, Svenson and Williamson.

Exclusive to the Blu-Ray edition are two additional featurettes. The first records a screening of the film at Los Angeles’ New Beverly theater, with the director and stars on hand to take applause and answer questions. The second documents Castelleri’s 70th birthday celebration in L.A., with a guest list that includes not only Williamson and Svenson, but also B-movie stalwarts John Saxon and Lou Ferrigno, both veterans of the maestro’s international productions.

The disc does not include the soundtrack CD that was included in the 3-disc special edition DVD, however.

If you’d like to see where Tarantino got the inspiration for his new movie, a fan of Euro-exploitation fare, or are a Fred Williamson fan – and who isn’t? – The Inglorious Bastards is a great bet for a rental or purchase. The Blu-Ray is especially nice, and would make a fine addition to any cult cinephile’s collection.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Bo Svenson! Now there's a name that takes me back