Writer, producer and director Phil Blattenberger, whether intentionally or by accident, delivers a pretty clear message with his latest World War II film, “Condor’s Nest,” which releases in theaters nationwide and on demand on Friday.
“I don’t think there’s necessarily a specific message other than maybe don’t be a Nazi, or if you are, South America’s not the place to be,” Blattenberger said.
“Condor’s Nest” is described as a fun, ‘80s-style popcorn thriller set in South America during the search for Nazi war criminals. American war veteran Will Spalding, played by actor Jacob Keohane, is on a quest to track down the sadistic Nazi Colonel Bach, played by Arnold Vosloo. After Spalding watches Bach execute his entire bomber crew, he sets out on a mission of revenge which takes him all the way to a remote location in South America. Little does Spalding know, he’s in for more than he bargained for when he uncovers a secret Nazi headquarters known as the Condor’s Nest.
The movie has no shortage of familiar faces, such as Alaskan Cody Howard (“Point Man,” “The Right Stuff”). Though Howard was born in Florida, he said he spent most of his childhood in Eagle River, Alaska and said he cherishes not only the memories but every chance he gets to return to his roots. Additionally, Howard said he’s grateful for the opportunity to have worked on a film starring actors he grew up idolizing.
“There is no place like Alaska in the world,” Howard said. “I’m very excited to have been a part of Condors Nest. It was a dream come true working with such a great crew and fantastic cast. I deeply admire Arnold Vosloo, someone I grew up watching in movies. He’s a true artist and working with him was an experience I’ll never forget.”
Along with actor Vosloo (“The Mummy,” “Blood Diamond”), the film also features lead Jacob Keohane (“Halloween Kills”) and other notable actors such as Michael Ironside (“Top Gun,” “Total Recall”) Jackson Rathbone (“Twilight,” “Last Airbender”) Jorge Garcia (“LOST,” “Hawaii Five-0”) James Urbaniak (“Venture Bros,” “The Office”) and Academy Award nominee Bruce Davison (“Longtime Companion,” “X-Men”).
Blattenberger said he wanted to make a film that gave attention to the relatively untouched subject matter of thousands of Nazis who fled to South America after Hitler’s downfall at the end of World War II.
“Through one cultural node or another I think just about everybody has some semblance of the idea that there was something to do with the Nazis in South America at some point, but it’s not broadly known or even taught that something like 10,000 Nazis actually did flee Germany after the fall of the third reich and set up shop in South America in Argentina and Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, all over the place,” Blattenberger said. “So, I think that lent itself to fertile fields in which to sew a story.”
Audiences find themselves taking an adventurous ride across the globe from the film’s start in France in the 1940s, which then quickly shifts to Argentina in the 1950s and the coastal plains then up into the jungles of Paraguay and the deserts of Bolivia, but as Blattenberger explained, domestic locations were employed to pull it off.
“France was actually in North Carolina where we had an art department assemble a full scale crashed B-17 bomber in a farmhouse,” Blattenberger said. “Then for most of our South America locations we actually employed sort of a classic sleight of hand that you see in films where we went down to Peru actually and shot a lot of our big broad exteriors and tighter shots that are inserts that are showcasing things that could only possibly be South America, but then when you cut to say the interior of a hotel bar in Paraguay, that’s actually Charlotte, North Carolina.”
This isn’t Blattenberger’s first time wearing both the writer and director’s hat simultaneously, nor is it his first film centered around war. In 2018 Blattenberger released “Point Man,” which takes place in 1968 Vietnam, however, Blattenberger said despite having two war related movies under his belt, it’s not necessarily a focus he tries to prioritize.
“In Point Man, it was a quote on quote Vietnam film but more than that it was a crime drama set against the backdrop of the Vietnam war which contextualized it,” Blattenberger said. “And similar is Condor’s Nest, in which there are obviously these themes of war and threads of World War II are these themes that weave throughout this entire narrative. The first 15 minutes of the film there’s a crashed plane and a German tank and a German Colonel, yeah, sure, those are war scenes, but it’s not a war movie.”
At its core, Blattenberger said the film is meant to be more fun than it is meant to be defined by genre or deliver a significant message. Blattenberger said his main goal was to create a character and plot driven movie in which audiences are immersed inside worlds that they otherwise would never get to experience.
“At the end of the day you’re buying in for an hour and forty minutes with a bucket of popcorn,” Blattenberger said. “You’re watching the villain from The Mummy playing a German Colonel in front of a tank and you get to see Michael Ironside, the Bond villain playing a Soviet spy and you get academy award nominee Bruce Davis playing a sort of foil to an archeological Nazi scheme and Jogre Garcia as Hurley from Lost, you just get to see all of these characters you know and love from various things playing out this very exciting turncoat thriller in South America and the pastiche of a 1980s Nazi ass kicking movie, so grab the bucket of popcorn and go to town, I think that’s our message.”
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at firstname.lastname@example.org.