“Köpekbalığı!” That’s shark to you, and unsurprisingly, the Turks ripped-off Steven Spielberg’s hit with one of the worst movies of all time – let’s call it “Turkish Jaws.” Shark flicks have always been popular as being eaten alive is an ultimate primal fear and so are bad movies such as this. To the filmmakers’ credit, the film does not imitate “Jaws” (1975) completely as a fisherman takes on gangsters, but when someone yells ‘Köpekbalığı!’ cue shitty homemade wooden fin followed by a plastic skeleton bobbing to the surface complimented by John Williams’s famous soundtrack. The finale is really something else. No, really, it is. The godfather casts a spell on the Great White that appears on the boat for a showdown. Yes, that’s right. A guy in an awful shark costume stands and trades punches in a limp-wristed scrap. And the filmmakers are being serious, we presume, with their intent. Of course, it ends happily ever after and the locals throw a disco party: The End. Look, I had to sit through this and so should you. “Aatank” (1996), a Hindu rip-off of “Jaws,” is a lot better and that’s saying something. Imagine a “Turkish Jaws” and Adriano Stuart’s “Codfish/Bacalhau” (1975) double bill. Your brain would shut down; you’d end up being fed through a tube.
Jaws was not the only US blockbuster that Turkey paid their attention to. Spielberg was raped again when “E.T.” (1982) was given the Turkish treatment. Sidesplitting stuff, “Badi [Duckling]” (1983), is complete with flying shopping trolley; bargain basement production values, shot-on-video and the loveable alien now resembles a big s**t. An interesting rip-off is “Seytan” (1974), Turkey’s answer to “The Exorcist” (1973) where the Christian backdrop has been replaced with that of Muslim beliefs. Well, that is the only point of interest. The film is graced with the original score (ripped from an album complete with crackles and pops) and is a virtual scene-for-scene remake with head spinning, nudity and projected vomit. Another cracker is “Turkish Star Trek” aka “Turist Omer Uzay Yolunda [Omer, the Tourist in Star Trek].” Made in 1974, this feature holds the credit as the first “Star Trek” movie. Featuring the hilarious antics of Turkey’s Benny Hill and a f****d up Mr. Spock who has to be seen to be believed. The Turks had the cheek to replace the opening credits from the television series and replaced the score with ‘Out of Limits’ by The Ventures.
Perhaps the most absurd of Turkey’s fantastic cinema has to be “Dünyayi kurtaran adam [The Man Who Saves the World]” – a loveable turd of a movie that steals footage and scores from “Star Wars,” “Planet of the Apes” (1968), “The Black Hole” (1979), “Flash Gordon” (1980), “Moonraker” (1979) and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) among others. It’s a head-cracker of a flick that buggers your mind leaving you brain dead, a gibbering wreck, your eyes popping out of their sockets. Also known as “Turkish Star Wars,” Cüneyt Arkin – who also starred as a feral child raised by big cats in the mental and ultra-cheap “Lion Man/Aslan Adam” (1975) – is Turkey’s answer to Jackie Chan and Alain Delon. The film kicks off with a bang as Arkin and his sidekick are sat in front of a projector screen that shows various scenes from “Star Wars.” As this is a poverty-row production, the Turks could not afford their own studio for model effects and Arkin takes the role of a Tie fighter pilot, with the rebels now acting as bad guys, the Death Star as Earth. It’s laughably bad: lunacy, madness. The projected footage makes no sense or lacks any coherent form, as it’s edited awkwardly and sometimes even plays in reverse. And this is just the start. Our hero falls for a hot fox slut who is supposedly Princess Leia and battles a ridiculous Darth Vadar and robot with a six-foot long gold sword made out of plywood.
“Dünyayi kurtaran adam” has to be one of the worst movies of all time, but what it lacks in common sense behind and in front of the camera, it makes up for in sheer energy. It may be s**t, but hell, it’s more fun than many Hollywood mainstream comedies. And what separates this film from George Lucas’s model is that it’s far more violent: a child has his bonce squashed, heads are ripped off, the hero’s sidekick snuffs it, and for good measure, the Turkish Darth Vadar suffers the indignity of having his head sliced through the middle by Arkin’s bare hands! (An amazing effect of covering one side of the actor’s face with a board, thus preventing sunlight being exposing onto it; all right, it’s trash.) Not only that, aliens resemble the Cookie Monster from “Sesame Street” and Lucas’s cafeteria scene would appear to have been recreated in a dodgy bar. What were the Turks thinking? Amazingly, the film spawned a sequel, “Dünyayi kurtaran adam’in oglu [Turks in Space]” (2006), although another Lucas rip-off that demands your viewing is “Os Trapalhões na Guerra dos Planetas” (1978), also known as “Brazilian Star Wars,” which was brought to you by the same genius who gave us “Codfish.”
Another gob opener and one that will leave you wide-eyed in fear is “Aysecik ve sihirli cüceler rüyalar ülkesinde [Aysecik in the Land of the Magic Dwarfs].” But they can’t fool us. It features a young girl, Aysecik, a Judy Garland look-alike and dog, Banju, who are whisked to dreamland by a shitty animated tornado. There, Dorothy, or Aysecik, meets seven dwarfs who are dressed like Munchkins. They work for the Good Witch of the North, and on her yellow brick road journeys, Aysecik joins forces with a scarecrow, an iron woodman and a cowardly lion. Cue singsongs and forgettable dance numbers as they seek the help of the wizard before battling the wicked witch. Sounds familiar? It sure does! And we’re going to refer to this screamer of a movie as “Turkish Wizard of Oz” and cavemen are thrown in for good measure. As weird rip-offs go, there is nothing that can beat this Turco psychotropic nut job, especially in a scene where Aysecik – a cult character who appeared in over fourteen movies – realises that the scarecrow is gay and sews up his arse. One can image a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad funded version where an Iranian scarecrow with an eye for boys is strung up and hung from a crane. “‘Somewhere over the rainbow…’ Help, I can’t breathe… Ugh.”
Turkish cinema goes from Hollywood blockbuster rip-offs to exploitation homages in Part Three of YEŞILÇAM! Turkish Exploitation Cinema>>>