Italian director is man with mission in Cannes

Enzo G. Castellari, the Italian genre master who in 1978 helmed the G.I.’s-on-a-mission movie “The Inglorious Bastards,” which inspired Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” is in Cannes on a double “Basterds” mission.

Galvanized about having found such a huge fan in Tarantino, who cast him in a cameo as a Nazi general in “Basterds” — the same role Castellari played in his own film — the 70-year-old cult helmer is also on the Croisette tubthumping a promo reel for his new feature, which comes after a 15-year hiatus.

The plot centers on a trio of young rich kids who rebel against their arms-dealing parents and also stumble across a big drug cache.

Set on a Venezuelan isle, it is aptly titled “Caribbean Basterds.”

“Quentin’s going to be surprised when he sees the title, and I’m going to say: ‘You were inspired by my movie, but I just copied from yours with no shame,’ ” he jokes, speaking from his editing suite in Rome.

Castellari describes “Caribbean Basterds” as “Action, action, action and lots of sex and drugs.”

“There is lots of violence against rich folks, and the kids take advantage of the situation to have fun with a few orgies.”

But though the title takes its cue from Tarantino, the pic is actually inspired by Stanley Kubrick.

One of the three characters is a big Kubrick fan, so in their punitive missions they wear bowler hats, white uniforms, and wield metal batons.

“It’s a homage to Kubrick with various genuflections on my part,” says Castellari.

Shot in English on the Isla Margarita in high-def digital, it stars Venezuelan supermodel Keyla Espinoza and is being sold by Italy’s Surf Film.

Castellari says “he could not have dreamed of anything better” than being on the Berlin set of Tarantino’s “Basterds” where he spent three weeks.

“When I got to the airport I was picked up by a black van. Inside was a sealed envelope with several pockets. One had my pay. Another had a cell phone with everybody’s phone number. Another had the script, the production schedule, and a guide to Berlin. I said to myself, Wow! What a gift!”

But “the most beautiful thing for me was to see Tarantino visibly moved as he was directing me.

“He swooped down on me in the tallest crane I’ve ever seen, and instead of just saying ‘action’ he whispered ‘Enzo’ to give me my cue. It was magic.”

Here in Cannes, the Weinstein Company is putting Castellari up at the Hotel du Cap.

“How is it?” he asks.

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