Thursday, July 13, 2006

DVD Reviews: KILINK ISTANBUL'DA and KILINK UCAN ADAMA KARSI/KILINK SOY VE OLDUR!!



Onar Films announced its presence to the world a year or so ago with the first of its two remarkable DVDs which unleashed the master criminal Kilink back onto the world after years of ratty bootlegs, sub-standard VCDs or simple nonexistence. Of course like all Turkish films from its commercial height during the late 1960s through the 1970s, there are no surviving negatives and complete prints are incredibly rare as well, so Onar did what it could with what did survive, and what they came up with is pretty damned astonishing. All the films look quite ragged, but vastly better than anything cult film fans have laid their greedy hands on before they went through all this trouble. So yeah it's cool that these obscure little masked-man/crime/fantasy films have made into your (all-region, yes?) DVD player, but are they any good? In a word: holy-fucking-shit-hell-yes-they-are!

The first DVD is made up only of the first film KILINK ISTANDBUL'DA or KILINK IN INSTANBUL, and it's a wild one. Kilink is rip off of an Italian photonovel supercriminal called Killing. Who in turn is a rip off of an Italian supercriminal character from comics and films called Kriminal. Essentially, he (all of them) is a ruthless criminal genius decked out head to toe in a skeletal Halloween costume that he never, ever takes off. Ever. Not even when he 'gets it on' with any number of totally hot Turkish babes he encounters throughout all the flicks. His dastardly plot in this first installment concerns getting a secret formula from some upstanding elderly scientists so that he can rule the world with a 'ray of death' as the subtitles put it. Standing in his way is none other than, wait for it, ... Superman!! Well, sort of. Like most Turkish pop films that use American superheroes, they really just get it all wrong, which honestly, is one of the things that makes these things so oddly thrilling. He's more of a Captain Marvel, with a bearded old Mystic-dude giving the secret word that will transform him into Supes - "Shazam!". Yeah so he's basically Captain Marvel, though he has an S on his chest. But he also wears a mask unlike either Captain Marvel or Superman. And in the subtitles he's called Superhero in the first and Flying Man in the second, so who knows what they were thinking. Anyway, he's out to stop Kilink's nefarious plans by doing that leaping attack thing that all Turkish superheroes do. He's really not all that successful as Kilink keeps getting away and succeeds in kidnapping his loved ones (who also happen to be the people who have the formula that he needs for his ray of death).

But this is a 'Kilink' film not a 'Superhero' film. And it's in all the scenes with him that the movie finds its greatness. His presence gives a macabre, almost gothic feeling to the film, especially in the opening moments, when he is revived from a coffin while wrapped in cloth like a mummy. It's actually kind of creepy. And for all his devious and downright genocidal plotting, Kilink is really a lover, not a fighter. Women seem to melt at his very presence, at first in fear, then in pure unadulterated lust. Like many Turkish movies from this period, the sexiness comes to the fore, with several love scenes with sexy dames in revealing get-ups. While there isn't anything too risqué, these scenes are quite amazing if you think about them coming from a Muslim country, even one as westernized as Turkey. It's then not surprising to learn that eventually, Turkey would become the first (if not the only) Muslim country to make out-and-out porn films.

KILINK IN ISTANBUL races along at a wonderful pace. It never lags, never lets up on the action or the sleaze. Its meager budget and time-ravaged print help to give the film an almost psychedelic, deranged quality that burns in your eyes and scrambles your mind. You never really notice that it doesn't make any sense, because it becomes a total sensory experience and not just a simple story. All the b-movie and comic book elements meld together in the singularly Turkish perspective, becoming, for us non-Turks anyway, a unique and wonderfully fun affair, full of weirdness, sex, and adventure galore.

The story picks up right where it left off in ISTANBUL'DA in the next installment KILINK VS SUPERMAN! Actually it picks up a bit before where the last one left off, since the first 15 or so minutes are actually a re-edit of the first film leading straight into the action of the second. But that's OK since in many ways the print quality is much better than the first AND Onar acquired a much better subtitler (is that even a word?) for this second DVD. So, OK, we pick up with Superman (or Flying Man, whatever) on the trail of Kilink who has kidnapped his girl and her father, the scientist responsible for the formula Kilink needs to conquer the world. Along the way, we pick up some comedy relief in the form of a gimpy, cowardly fisherman who takes Supes’ alter-ego to Kilink's island HQ (why didn't he just fly there, being a 'Flying Man'?), here on the island the series picks up its sleaze quotient quite a bit since each of Kilink's henchmen seems to have his own bikinied babe in tow! There's even a belly-dancing scene! And a rather tame orgy scene! This of course gives Superman the chance to get the jump on the bad guys, as they are more concerned with hot chick hip moves than keeping Kilink’s lair in a secure position. Lots of crappy special effects and balls-to-the-wall fights ensue, as Kilink's plans unravel. The final act of the film concerns Kilink's revenge; something to do with a rich Austrian heiress and some fancy jewels, but unfortunately this part of the movie is now lost to time, only a few stills exist which are shown with narration to fill you in on the missing bits. This is unfortunate since this second film really seems to up the ante in the action and sex and was really starting to cook when it drops off. BUT it's pretty damned amazing that we have even this much as this was considered a lost film until recently. Oh well, at least we have what we do and it's highly entertaining.

The last one KILINK:STRIP AND KILL is not nearly as sleazy as its English translated title might imply. It's also the least fantastic of the three, with no Superman to speak of, leaving us only with Kilink and his best gal, Suzy. But really, what more do you need? It's a kind of RED HARVEST-YOJIMBO story with Kilink playing two bloodthirsty gangs against each other in order to get his hands on some gold and a microfilm with Turkish security secrets encoded on it (or something). The plot is kind of confusing at times, even more so than the first, and often feels more like a 60s spy thriller than a superhero or crime film. But still, Kilink is Kilink, and he spends a lot of time seducing (and subsequently, killing) a bevy of attractive ladies, using his impressive imitative skills to get what he wants, and constantly keeping like, 8 or 9 steps ahead of his rivals and the police. But something's different this time. Has Kilink acquired a *gasp* conscience? It would appear so, at one point he saves the life of some broad and her young son and later even praises the efficiency and integrity of the Turkish police! What gives?!? But still, like I said, Kilink is Kilink, and he still displays a viscous sadistic streak towards the other ruthless gangs and their even more ruthless molls. All in all, despite it being in many ways a more tame film, STRIP AND KILL is an incredibly fun and entertaining little movie, even more fast paced and energetic than its predecessors. And it benefits from the exclusion of Superman, giving almost it's entire running time over to our favorite supercriminal, who has now become one of my favorite all-time film characters.

The presentation of STRIP AND KILL is really incredible. Though, again, no negatives exist, it has one of the cleanest, debris-free picture quality of any Turkish film I've seen. Onar really deserves credit for finding this amazing-looking print and doing such a fine transfer. Overall, all the Kilink films on these two DVDs look relatively great. Onar is committed to giving us the best possible viewing experience for these amazing Turkish motion pictures and so far they've done a remarkable job. They seem to have, somewhat masochistically, chosen movies which time and circumstance have not been at all kind to. But in doing so they have given us something no one else really would even dare to do. And they saved these films from either total obscurity or being damned forever to bootleg hell. The UN should really give Onar Films a medal for preserving such an overlooked and almost forgotten part of the world's pop culture.

And I've not even gotten to the extras! The VS SUPERMAN and STRIP AND KILL DVD gives us two video interviews with director Yilmaz Atadeniz and actor Irfan Atasoy respectively which are very informative and interesting if you care at all about the history of the Turkish film industry. There's also a print interview with Atadeniz concerning his older brother who was an early guiding light for the nascent Turkeywood scene, in it he relates his experiences on the set of TARZAN IN ISTANBUL (to be released on DVD later this year from Onar) in the really early days of '52. Fascinating. There's also a detailed filmography for Atasoy which list dozens of obscure films that sound absolutely amazing. As you can tell I'm a sucker for this stuff. A photo gallery and batch of Onar trailers round out the package. The same trailers can be found on the ISTANBUL'DA DVD, which boasts less extras than the other. Certainly the most interesting extra would have to be a detailed Kilink filmography, with mouthwatering descriptions of other films in the series which are now seemingly completely lost. For you, my beloved reader, I present the most intriguing of these, transcribed directly from the DVD:

CANGO OLUM SUVARISI (DJANGO, RIDER OF DEATH)
1967
D: Remzi Conturk
The Turkish Django movie has the relentless gunfighter struggling to bring law and order to a small village in the wild west. In order to exact his bloody vengeance he must unmask the main villain, none other than Kilink, the death rider!

KILINK FRANKENSTAYN'A KARSI (KILINK VS. FRANKENSTEIN)
1967
D: Nuri Akinci
The masked criminal Kilink returns to confront the Frankenstein monster in this great, hilarious, over-the-top episode, upping the horror theme in these unique, imaginative B-grade treasures.

KILINK OLULER KONUSMAZ (KILINK, CORPSES DO NOT TALK)
1967
D: Vavuz Figenli
Aided by his sexy lover and secretary, the mini-skirted Suzie, Kilink is once again busy planning a series of hard-hitting robberies and of course, killings - in this rival 'Kilink' production.

DISI KILLING (SHE KILLING)
1967
D: Aram Galyuz
A woman swears to kill every loving couple in sight after she is ruthlessly disfigured by her jealous husband. She becomes the She Killing, donning the mask of the infamous underworld criminal. A detective is hot on her trail to restrain her. An extraordinary offering from the prolific B-grade film industry of 60s Turkey.

I must see these. Gods willing, copies will be uncovered somewhere, and I'm sure Onar will be all over them.

Consider these DVDs mandatory purchases, people. The Turks created some weird, amazing, violent, sexy and fun movies during 60s and 70s into the early 80s and Onar has done an amazing job in getting these artifacts to us. You can all of Onar's releases directly from the source at the Onar Films website, or from Onar's eBay alter ego Deathland.

2 comments:

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viagra online pharmacy said...

Maybe my favorite Turkish series ever! Kiling is the greatest hero ever!