BOOTLEG FILES 318: “The Turkish Batman” (1973 made-in-Turkey ripoff of you-know-what).
LAST SEEN: We cannot confirm the last public exhibition of this title.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Someone didn’t pay DC Comics a licensing fee!
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Oh, really!
Last week’s column revisited the campy 1960s TV series “Batman.” This week, we return to Gotham City by way of the Euphrates and visit with “Yarasa Adam – Bedman,” more commonly known in English as “The Turkish Batman.”
As any longtime Film Threat fan knows, the Turkish motion picture industry has a demented history of creating unauthorized remakes of Hollywood classics. While these films are lacking in many areas – budgets, professional actors, coherent storytelling, soundtracks that aren’t stolen from other movies – they manage to compensate in terms of spirit and strangeness. So what if “The Turkish Star Wars” throws in glimpses of the Pyramids? So what if the Cowardly Lion in “The Turkish Wizard of Oz” has a thick bushel of hair covering his genital regions? So what if “The Turkish Star Trek” uses the theme from “Twilight Zone” in its opening credits? If you wanted art movies, you are in the wrong genre!
Reviewing “The Turkish Batman” is a bit problematic on three levels. First, the only bootlegs available outside of Turkey do not include English subtitles. While most of the film is easy enough to decipher, some parts are a little confusing and can create peculiar interpretations. (One Net writer insists that the Alfred the butler character has been transformed into a mini-skirted babe!) The second problem comes with the visual quality of the bootlegs, or the lack thereof – the circulating copy looks like an eight-generation dupe, and in some scenes the black-and-white film literally becomes all white. Third, the available version of the film may be truncated – the bootleg copy I have runs less than an hour, which is rather skimpy for a feature film.
For those who abhor the Adam West television series for taking liberties with the Bob Kane material, “The Turkish Batman” is much more excessive in regard to ignoring the original source. In this version, Batman and Robin hang out in strip clubs when they are not fighting crime. Batman also appears to have received a blood transfusion from Tiger Woods – he spends much of his free time bedding various babes. In one astonishing scene, he picks up a blonde at a bus stop, takes her to a motel, and then drives his Batmobile into her Batcave.
However, the Dynamic Duo are no slouches when it comes to crime fighting. The Caped Crusaders (or Capeless Crusaders – they remove their capes before slugfests) go wild when facing villains. There are plenty of punches, kicks, and WWE-worthy maneuvers – Batman has a strange habit of lifting Robin and tossing him at his opponents. Batman also carries a gun, and he doesn’t hesitate to shoot when agitated.
So what’s going on here? Apparently, there is some sort of crime boss who may be the Turkish version of Ernst Blofeld – he shows up (complete with a cat and John Barry’s 007 music on the soundtrack) and dictates a crime wave that involves the killing of young ladies wearing mini-skirts and go-go boots. Batman appears to be some sort of a government agent – there is a long and surprisingly artistic POV tracking shot that follows him through a building and into an office where he plays a reel-to-reel tape recorder that instructs him on his assignment. The tape player comes with an envelope full of 8×10 photos of his intended targets. (Yes, welcome to the “Turkish Mission: Impossible”!)
Beyond this – well, to be frank, I am sort of lost at who’s doing what and why they’re behaving so strangely. There are plenty of shapely women who dance and a bunch of skuzzy-looking guys in cheap suits that get into fights with Batman and Robin. A Turkish version of Commissioner Gordon turns up in a couple scenes to telephone for help, but apparently there is no Turkish police force – except for Batman and Robin, no one is stopping criminals in this movie.
Roughly half of the film is shot on the street, so there are plenty of pedestrian chases and one automobile pursuit that clearly takes place well below the speed limit. (Obviously, the filmmakers didn’t want to get themselves on the “Turkish COPS.”) The rest of the film appears to have been made in garages and living rooms of the filmmakers’ friends, which may explain the low-rent décor in the rooms and the significant lack of property destruction during the fight scenes.
But that’s not to say that the film isn’t without its amusement factors. Blooper fans will appreciate seeing Batman and Robin driving about in their civilian clothing, then suddenly emerging from their vehicle in full costume. Sound effects aficionados will enjoy how the film’s musical soundtrack abruptly halts whenever the noise of a punch is registered, followed by the equally abrupt resumption of the music after fists connect with faces and guts.
And anyone who lived through the 1970s will recognize the glut of shaggy haircuts, suit lapels the size of wind turbines, skirts that barely covered the naughty region, phonographs that required the manual placement of a needle on a long-playing record, and rotary telephones that gave index fingers a muscular workout.
As with the other classics of Turkish ripoff cinema, “The Turkish Batman” never had a proper commercial release outside of its home country. The obvious problems in not clearing licensing rights for the Batman and Robin characters will doom the film to remain as a shadowy item on the collector-to-collector circuit, while the lack of a quality bootleg will keep it further from gaining wider appreciation.
But it could be worse, and it probably is – allegedly, there is a “Turkish Batgirl” somewhere in the bootleg channels. If anyone knows where to find that title, please let me know ASAP!
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The unauthorized duplication and distribution of copyright-protected material, either for crass commercial purposes or profit-free s***s and giggles, is not something that the entertainment industry appreciates. On occasion, law enforcement personnel boost their arrest quotas by collaring cheery cinephiles engaged in such activities. So if you are going to copy and distribute bootleg videos and DVDs, a word to the wise: don’t get caught. Oddly, the purchase and ownership of bootleg videos is perfectly legal. Go figure!