Movie Review: Low Camp in the High Andes, “Condor’s Nest”

It’s not cricket to talk about a film’s third act and finale in a review, because that could lead to “spoilers” and one mustn’t reveal those. One just mustn’t.

But as I’m breaking format here and using the poster to “Condor’s Nest” as there is no art out there on the Interwebs that truly does justice to the feast of character actors this C-movie serves up, here’s a taste.

The climax begins as “The Boys from Brazil,” finding high and low ranking Nazis holed up in postwar Nazi-friendly Bolivia, a “Condor’s Nest” ruled over by no less than former SS chief Heinrich Himmler, whom history reminds us died in Allied custody. Or DID he?

In a couple of campy scenes acted-out in full Nazi regalia, nerdy-quirky character actor James Urbaniak (“Henry Fool,” “Fay Grim” and “The Girl from Monday” came long before “The Fabelmans”) as Himmler and Bruce Davison (“Ben,” “The X-Men”) as his Nazi subordinate bicker and banter in “Cabaret” German about ancient Atlanteans in South America and their “big Aryan” skulls.

And then for its last trick, the movie leaps from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to “The Wild Bunch.”

It’s nuts, not quite funny enough, but as daft as writer-director Phil Blattenberger could make it. With this movie and his disastrous stab at Vietnam (“Point Man”), Blattenberger’s ambitions become clear. “Daft” in this case is an accident. He wants to be the Uwe Boll of combat cinema.

The film starts out as a post World War II vengeance tale. A long opening sequence reveals how our hero witnessed the rest of his downed B-17 crew murdered, as prisoners, by a sneering, luger-lugging SS officer played by veteran heavy Arnold Visloo. Corporal-not-Captain Spaulding (Jacob Keohane) will go to the ends of the Earth — South America — to track that bastard down in the decade after the war.

Spalding reminds us all how simple politics can be.

“You sit at a table with Nazis, that makes you a Nazi!”

That logic is how he winds up in Argentina, kidnapping, torturing and murdering Nazis left and right, hunting down his quarry. That’s how he crosses paths with the Nazi A-bomb expert Vogel (Al Pagano) who promises to lead him to this Col. Bach. That’s also where he crosses swords and pistols with Israeli agent Leyna (Corinne Britti) who wants to kidnap Vogel back to Israel to stand trial.

There’s no point in complaining how bad Bach is, and invoking Himmler doesn’t move her. But this American pretending to be Swiss (don’t ask) is more determined than she is, which is how they all end up in the foothills of the Andes.

The movie’s credits had me thinking “Jackson Rathbone aged…oddly.” But no, Rathbone, like Michael Ironside, Urbaniak and Davison, is Just Another Nazi in this production.

Keohane, who played a deputy in “Halloween Kills” and was one of the stars (with actor-director Blattenberger) of “Point Man,” isn’t incompetent, but is nobody’s idea of a charismatic leading man.

If this script had been properly workshopped, somebody might have suggested to Blattenberger than the whole air raid/plane crash opening act was superfluous, costing money, wasting screen time, forcing him to cast lesser players, including a cut-rate, inadequate but “available” for the entire shoot leading man.

Whack those scenes out and we don’t wonder why a B-17 is equipped with a sniper rifle that is handed to Cpl. Spaulding as he is sent off to stand look out. We don’t shake our heads at the lack of urgency as the surviving crew mopes around, in life jackets and parachutes, their obviously fake-looking crashed bomber all but waiting for the Germans to show up and capture them.

Whack that sequence and we don’t wonder why our lead looks much older than the rest of the crew.

The movie here is the revenge tale in South America (Was is all filmed in Greensboro, N.C.?) with the better, bigger-name actors. Starting out with a sequence this bad kills “Condor’s Nest” in the crib. A brief flashback could have covered the murders in front of a crash site that was more fire and smoke than a visible cheap production0designed crashed B-17.

I’m spitting in the wind, I know. But whatever got Jorge Garcia (as a Buenos Aires tavern keeper) and all the “names” to sign on was Latin American Nazi intrigues, a lot more potentially interesting than trying to recreate WWII with a digital air raid on a farm field in the Piedmont of North Carolina.

If this guy’s hellbent on being the new Uwe Boll, or worse, the new Justin Lee, suggesting “workshopping” might have hurt his feelings. “Condor’s Nest” shows us he doesn’t know camp when he’s filming it.

Rating: unrated, bloody violence, profanity

Cast: Jacob Keohane, Corinne Britti, Arnold Visloo, Michael Ironside, Jorge Garcia, Jackson Rathbone, Bruce Davison, and James Urbaniak

Credits: Scripted and directed by Phil Blattenberger. A Saban Films release.

Running time: 1:43

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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1 Response to Movie Review: Low Camp in the High Andes, “Condor’s Nest”

  1. Holstein says:

    that one star was far too generous

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