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Case Number 03639: Small Claims Court

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The Inheritors

Westlake Entertainment // 1982 // 88 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // November 26th, 2003

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All Rise...

The Charge

The threat is real. It is happening today.

The Case

The threat is real all right. Unfortunately, it's not fascism that's the threat. It's another piece of trash masquerading as art. The Inheritors is so thoroughly repugnant and unpleasant to watch that I'm surprised it received a domestic release. Normal procedure would have been to throw it in the trash bin where it belongs.

The film tells the story of Thomas, a young German teenager who has a hellish home life. His mother is a tyrant, never showing any love or affection. His father is a spineless jellyfish who lets his wife rule with an iron fist. After a lifetime of domestic hell, he finally gains acceptance with a group of neo-fascists led by Dr. Norbert, a charismatic yet dangerous man. What transpires will lead to a final confrontation where everything is examined.

The cover art for Monarex's DVD boasts that this was an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival. It sounds very impressive, until you realize that Vincent Gallo's reviled The Brown Bunny was also a Cannes selection. It managed to win a Jury Prize at the Montreal Film Festival. Either the prize was a "good sport" prize or the jury was suffering from sleep depravation.

The film plays like the poor man's American History X without that film's class (hard to believe, but it's there) or power. The film's co-writer, producer, editor, and director, Walter Bannert, seems to believe earnestly in his material but makes one deadly mistake: he adds seamy scenes for the sole purpose of shock. How else to explain the three sequences of fellatio shot in loving long shots? Or his still close-up of a female derriere? Look, I am not against nudity or sexual content, but it should have a purpose in the story and those scenes have no place in a serious drama about neo-fascism.

The acting is very over the top and amateurish. By using a no-name cast, Bannert may have been attempting a documentary feel to his film. Unfortunately, he doesn't know much about casting as the actors just feel wrong for their parts. Screaming and facial gyrations a performance do not make.

Monarex, in association with Westlake Entertainment, contribute yet another horrific DVD transfer. They give us a theatrical trailer in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen, but decide to go with full frame for the feature itself. And is if that wasn't bad enough, the transfer itself is very poor. There is no evidence of any restoration. There are enough film artifacts, such as reel marks, grain (it may be amber waves upon further scrutiny), numerous scratches, specks of dirt, and what appears to be a certain substance that found its way onto the infamous blue dress of Monica Lewinsky, in this print that would make even the most seasoned film lover wretch.

The box art boasts "Dolby Stereo!" in small letters after the copyright. Brother, if this is stereo, I'll eat my stereo speakers. The sound is just as awful as the film itself. The incessant sound of tape hiss is present throughout the feature and dialogue (in German with very shaky English subtitles) is often difficult to hear. The music, by Gustav Mahler, is the only virtue of this transfer as it always manages to sound good, despite the problems.

No extras except the aforementioned trailer are included. That is a good thing since most viewers will have already turned this tripe off and traded it for credit or cash.

Is this disc worth $19.99? Hell no! The verdict is guilty! So guilty! At least I know how to convict them! Next case please!

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 10

Perp Profile

Studio: Westlake Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (German)
• English
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 1982
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailer


• IMDb

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