I have to give Mondo Macabro credit for something. Not only have they introduced me to films (that I have wound up absolutely loving) that I have never seen before, but they've also introduced me to films (that I have wound up absolutely loving) that I've never even heard of before. Mondo Macabro is one of the very few DVD distributors of cult/genre films today that I can honestly say is worth the blind buy nearly every single time. It's almost as if I'm just trusting their judgment, like a close friend. "Hey Lawrence, you have to check this flick out!" to which my response is..."OK!" They have yet to fail me, and while I haven't personally reviewed every one of their films for MAP (I am but one man don't you know) either I or someone else from this site have almost always found it fit to give them raves. It's now time for them to add another notch to their bedpost with their recent DVD release of a Turkish double delight. Man, oh man, are you in for a real treat with this one.
Up until now, my experience with Turkish cinema has been pretty much non-existent. I don't 'think' I've ever seen a Turkish film before, I'm guessing I'd remember if I had. I've heard the stories though, and I've certainly been intrigued. Tales of their Superman, Star Wars and Wizard of Oz rip-offs (to name a few) that feature un-licensed scenes and music from the original films as well as using bits and pieces from other unrelated films. Outrageous characters and situations and bargain basement special effects. Sounds right up my alley. Leave it to Mondo Macabro to come through with a Turkish Pop Double Feature of The Deathless Devil and Tarkan Versus The Vikings. Two films that I've never heard of but couldn't wait to sit down with upon hearing of their release. Now, a passing curious interest in Turkish 'pop' cinema has spawned into a real bloodlust for more!
I could sit here and relay in gross detail scene after magical scene that each of these films displays, but know this going in. Anything I say to you right now will not do the experience of seeing these films first hand any justice. That being said, if you don't have a tolerance for the silly or so bad it's good style of cinema (that some of us hold so dear), then these films are definitely not for you. Make no mistake about it. These are bad films. Shoddy performances and effects, lower production values than your kids' elementary school Xmas Pageant...you get the idea. Still, these are two of the most entertaining films I've seen in quite some time, even if I didn't fully understand them!
First up is an incredibly bizarre hybrid of a superhero/spy movie called The Deathless Devil. Everything in this film happens so fast! Too fast even! Which is good because there really is no story to support many of the 'ideas' that these characters act upon. A young man discovers that he's the descendent of a superhero named Copperhead. He's given tights, a Mexican wrestling mask and a mission...to put to an end the evil plans of one Dr. Satan. What are Dr. Satans plans you ask? Well, I'm not entirely sure, but they have something to do with remote control devices and robots taking over the world...I think. In the mean time, there are pretty Turkish women to be dealt with and a poor excuse for comic relief in the form of a man who thinks he's Sherlock Holmes. Wow. I can't believe I just wrote that paragraph.
Next up is Tarkan Versus The Vikings and things only get more bizarre from here on out. A really odd fantasy film (I believe it's 4th in a series, memory escapes me) that spawned from a popular series of comic books. Now, from what I could gather, this is a case of the Turks versus the Vikings. A band of Vikings take over a Turkish town, feeding the King to a hungry octopus. In the melee, Tarkan's dog and true confidant is killed leaving his 'dog's son' Kurt (can you believe the dog is named Kurt?) to travel the land with Tarkan for revenge. In the mean time, the new Viking king has plans for the (now deceased) Turkish King's daughter that both Tarkan and Kurt must put a stop to.
Two very strange, but highly entertaining films. Deathless Devil features high flyin' Mexican wrestling mask wearing acrobatics, the Pink Panther theme, hot Turkish gals and a guy in a robot suit made of cardboard, piping and tin foil...no shit. Tarkan features a dog that barks without moving his mouth, babies being stabbed in sword fights(!), the craziest fake octopus since Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster, more hot Turkish women (this time in fuzzy outfits), Turkish men with fuzzy shields and the coolest Viking ship...ever.
Mondo Macabro has issued a warning about the quality of these releases, citing sub par materials being available for transfer. Adopting the attitude "Either we put it out or it sits on a shelf because it won't get much better than this" I can only thank Mondo Macabro for making this decision. Both films are presented full frame and appear to have been taken from VHS sources. Still, Tarkan looks pretty good all things considered with bold colors and barely any evidence of its VHS origins. The Deathless Devil on the other hand looks a bit worse for wear with a few dropouts and colors that are a bit more muted. All things considered there's not much to complain about here. It's really great to have these on DVD and not an'n'th' generation VHS bootleg. It's obvious (and there's no doubt in my mind) that MM did everything they could with these titles. The mono audio is totally acceptable with nice readable English subs.
Extras include a Mondo Macabro piece on Turkish pop cinema (natch) with film clips and interviews with actors and directors. Truly a great piece makes me want to see even more. Pete Tombs also provides a brief essay on each film and the comic book style menus only add to the unique experience as a whole. So odd and entertaining, you must buy this disc! Highly recommended fun!
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