Cinemapocalypse at the Alamo Ritz: Die, Nazi, Die!
Quentin Tarantino premieres Inglourious
By Marc Savlov, 7:56PM, Sun. Aug. 16, 2009
"This is definitely a movie for cinema-lovers and Nazi-haters alike," said Eli Roth, by way of introducing Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, which had its Austin debut as part of Saturday night's Cinemapocalypse event at the Alamo Ritz. We bailed at eight in the morning, after surprise guest Robert Forster (Alligator, Jackie Brown) turned up around four to screen William Lustig's 1983 Death Wish-y Vigilante, skipping out on the final two films in what turned out to be a six-film, dusk-til-dawn affair.
Having survived our share of Butt-Numb-a-Thons, we're no stranger to long-haul movie marathons, but it's still a surreal feeling to walk out of the perpetually twilit Alamo only to be confronted by a.) a dead-empty, daylight-blasted Sixth Street straight out of The Omega Man, and, b.) zero crack-zombies and/or technicolor-yawning shot bar fratboy hoards.
[Spoiler alert!] The Alamo's Minister of Propaganda, Tim League, in a stroke of ballyhoo genius not seen since Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will (thankfully), unfurled a quartet of streaming Nazi party banners at precisely the moment in Inglourious Basterds when the film's firestorm of Jewish and allied vengeance brings the Third Reich to a flaming conclusion. Whoa. Nazi-conflagratin' fun, indeed.
"One of the things [Inglourious Basterds] is about is filmmaking in the German film industry," Tarantino explained in a lengthy, pointedly anti-fascist, post-IG Q&A, "which means it's about the making of propaganda films. Even if they weren't political, any movie made under Josef Goebbels regime was political by its very nature.
"There's a case to be made that [IG] is a propaganda film because we changed the fucking outcome of the war. I actually think Leni Riefenstahl is the most talented female filmmaker who ever lived, alright? I'm not really a fan of Triumph of the Will -- most of it is just boring fucking speeches by Nazis. But Olympia, to me, is really great filmmaking and her biggest argument for brotherhood, actually. The way she filmed Jesse Owens, that was obvious to me. I think she was an anti-semite and you can't believe half of what she says, but having said that, lets talk about somebody who would not have passed the Nuremburg test, and that would have been D.W. Griffith. Because the Ku Klux Klan did not exist anymore when he made Birth of a Nation. When him and Reverend Dixon conspired to make that film, they re-created the Ku Klux Klan. Not only that, the flaming cross is a D.W. Griffith creation. So every motherfucker that died because of the Ku Klux Klan, you can put that right on D.W. Griffith's door. Leni Riefenshtal was tried at Nuremburg and found innocent. Under the same laws, D.W. Griffith would have been found guilty."
Following up IG was tough, but QT brought along two of the greatest exploitation war flicks ever made but rarely seen, native Texan Jack Starrett's ultra-nihilistic but utterly riveting The Losers (1970) and The Siege of Firebase Gloria (1989), directed by Fantastic Fest favorite and our favorite Aussie, Brian Trenchard-Smith. War, what is it good for? Exploitation cinema, that's what.
After a short intermission in a wicked-crowded lobby, Terror Tuesday programmer Zack Carlson ushered in part two of the evening with a surprise appearance by the aforementioned alligator agitator Forster, who fielded what turned out to be, hands down, the longest and best Q&A session the Alamo has ever witnessed. By turns humble, hilarious, self-deprecating and informative about virtually every aspect of his acting career, Forster proved to be a tremendous crowd-pleaser, so much so that the adulation was palpable and sustained (and deafening). This guy can do no wrong in our book.
Vigilante proved well-worth the vigil -- Fred Williamson co-stars, making it feel like a rock 'em, sock 'em, marginally less amoral vengeance film than Charles Bronson's Death Wish series -- but by sunup it was time for us wimp out and trod homeward, to bed, with visions of Nazi blood dancing through our frazzled synapses. Sweet dreams are made of this? Oh hell yeah.