Why does it always fall upon me to write the character assassination of an entire culture? Previously, it was for the “So Sorry” roundtable, and now, once again, I find myself called upon to assault an entire people — one my grandfather used to tell me made necklaces out of the ears of German soldiers during WWII.
Exploring the strange and wonderful world of Turkish cult cinema has not traditionally been an easy task. For decades, most of us had no idea there was even a Turkish cult cinema to be explored. But then, round about 1999 or so, something amazing happened. Bootleg copies of a film known only as “Turkish Star Wars” started circulating. The rest, of course, was history, because cult film fans knew that where something that bizarre existed, other equally bizarre films were sure to dwell. And so the Great Game was on once again, as fans scoured the back alleys of Ankara and the black markets of Istanbul in search of something that featured Captain America punching out Spider-Man — for what we quickly learned was that Turkey was the film industry copyrights and intellectual properties went to to die. Nothing was off limits; no character, no soundtrack…heck, they’d devote half a film’s running time to using footage from some other film.
And so the B-Masters have gathered to celebrate the meager bits and pieces of Turkish cinema that have been made available in these past few years. Given the Turkish disinterest in preserving their own movies, this exploration can often be frustrating, or at the very least, incredibly grainy and possessed of numerous tracking problems.
I will state, by way of a disclaimer, that I’m sure Turkey produces many wonderful, thoughtful, insightful, and artistic films of great merit. But you know us: when the choice is between watching a touching exploration of the duality of Turkish cultural identity, with one foot in Western Europe and the other in Muslim central Asia, or watching a movie where a chain-smoking Spider-Man in combat boots shoves a lady’s face into an outboard motor — well, you know. — Keith, Teleport City
|Braineater||Badi: The Turkish E.T.||As you’ll have guessed, the death of the dog is supposed to prepare young Ali psychologically for the arrival of his new friend from space. Thank you, but I could do without this kind of character development. In spite of Bülent’s attempts to get Ali to join the gang in their usual routine, Ali decides he’d rather stay home and talk to his pet sparrow. Oh, and by the way, Ali’s ability to communicate with his sparrow isn’t just an endearing quirk… he can actually talk to his bird and apparently understand what the bird says back to him. i would call this more of a superpower than a character trait, but by this point I’m merely rolling with the punches.|
|Büyü||Hoca Ekrem and his team head off to Eastern Turkey to begin their expedition. As they ride out to the Anatolian highlands, we start to get some idea of the stereotypical horror movie characters we’re dealing with: Ayşe is obviously the Nice Girl who stands the best chance of making it most of the way through the movie; Cemil is the lone young male of the group, so we’re pretty confident he’ll end up as şaşlik before too long. Sedef is the young, innocent girl, so we look on her with the deepest suspicion. Aydan is perpetually cranky; she’s also the Hot Blonde One, so her hours are probably numbered. As for Ceren, she seems to be the nonentity of the group, the “Paris-Hilton-in-House of Wax” type who displays little character… except that she’s always, always on her cellphone with her boyfriend Şafak back in İstanbul.|
|And You Call Yourself a Scientist!||Seytan||If anyone out there does seriously doubt the magnitude of William Friedkin’s accomplishment, they only have to watch Seytan, which presents every scene and every incident from The Exorcist, one after the other – and botches them, one after the other.
On the other hand, Seytan does have something that The Exorcist does not, and that is The Single Funniest Thing I Have Ever Seen Presented Seriously In A Motion Picture…
|The Bad Movie Report||The Deathless Devil||It is exposited that a scientist is coming from America to talk about the invention, and in the next scene we see a foreign-looking gentlemen … yes, I suppose a Yank in a Turkish movie should look foreign … is killed with a thrown knife. Arriving on the scene too late is Tekin (the unfortunately-named Kunt Tulgar), who finds out that the cops know nothing. He then goes to tell his dad, who is a hell of a sleuth, since he realizes that the murder must be the handiwork of…DOK-TOR SEY-TAN! He then reveals that Tekin is only his adopted son. He is actually the son of a masked crimefighter called The Copperhead, who was killed by … DOK-TOR SEY-TAN. He hands Tekin his father’s mask and a copper snake figurine, and tells him to fight for justice. Truly, this is THE EASIEST ORIGIN STORY OF ALL TIME.|
|Jabootu||Tarkan Vs. The Barbarians||The head, meanwhile, is a terrifically screwy kind of thing with huge, painted-on eyes. The overall result is the kind of thing you might see as an advertising gimmick outside your local pool and patio shop, opposite the opposing car dealership’s giant inflatable gorilla. The tentacles, lighter than the bulk of the body, rise first, with the giant head/body following next. It’s not a sophisticated technique, but it’s so unusual that it kind of took me off guard at first. Of course, we’ll be seeing the process again later, and after a second look you figure out what they’re doing and the effect is diminished a bit. Still—GIANT INFLATABLE RUBBER OCTOPUS!!!! Has there ever been a movie, ever, that wouldn’t be improved by such a thing?|
|1000 Misspent Hours And Counting||The Serpent’s Tail||Always baffling but occasionally compelling in spite of its opacity, The Serpent’s Tale is more a supernatural mystery than a horror film in the generally recognized sense. There are horrible things, to be sure — vampires, tears in the fabric of reality, curses that extinguish the soul and reduce the body to bloody jelly— but the main issue is Lamia Köprülü’s dogged quest to figure out what in the hell is going on.|
|Teleport City||Kilink Istanbul’da||Kilink Istanbul’da is top-notch entertainment. The episodic structure of the film keeps it from ever getting dull, and there’s usually not more than a minute or so before a skeleton is ripping off a woman’s top or a superhero is punching a villain’s car. As silly as the idea of a grown man dressing up like a skeleton and demanding to rule the world may be, it works in the fantastical context created by films like this and the luchadore movies. Kilink has a more menacing, detailed suit than Kriminal did, plus he accessorizes with a holster and pistol. he looks good in action, too. Superman…err, Superhero, is a little less spry in his action scenes, but that’s just because all the foam stuffed into his shirt means his mobility is restricted.|