Turkish horror double bill (Onar Films)

Onar's Turkish horror (image: Xploited Cinema)There’s good news and very good news. The release of the Turkish horror double bill by Onar Films comes as very good news. If you’ve tried to follow the story: about everything that could go wrong when you’re releasing a DVD went wrong with this release. But, more than six months later than originally planned, the Turkish horror double bill is finally available for you to enjoy.

The Turkish action and horror cinema in the 70s and 80s has got the reputation of copying worldwide successes and adapting them for the Turkish market. Remember the almost literal remake of The Exorcist, only with Turkish touches and awful effects? That’s Seytan for you. The Turkish copied (sorry, remade) other classics too: you have Turkish versions of Superman, Spiderman, Star Wars, Star Trek, The Wizard of Oz and ET (renamed Badi).

Ölüler Konusmaz Ki (The Dead Don’t Talk) and Aska Susayanlar Seks Ve Cinayet (Thirsty for Love, Sex and Murder) offer two new slices of Turkish horror. They’re not exact copies as Badi and Seytan were, but tried to make local versions of genre films.
The first one is an attempt to make a gothic horror movie, the second one is best described as a Turkish giallo.

The Dead Don’t Talk opens with a couple being taken to a mansion. The coachman seems reluctant to do so (mumbling something about it being the 15th of the month) and rushes off as soon as they’ve arrived, without waiting to be paid. This, dear audience, means something must not be right in the house. And indeed, though the food is served, noone seems to be around. Apart from eyes spying on the new guests. The eyes seem to belong to Hasan, the servant of the house, who isn’t keen on communicating and seems to have only two hobbies: looking eeriliy and lamenting the death of his first mistress (whose portrait is hanging somewhere in the house).
Then, it turns out there’s a ghost who comes to the mansion every 15th night of the month and kills the lady of the house (oh, and her husband, if he just happens to be around).

My main problem was that I found it impossible to take this movie serious: the opening seemed to come straight from Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (one of the best-known German gothic horrors) and then they arrived at the mansion which just didn’t seem to scare me at all. The actor who plays Hasan was obviously asked to “look scary”, which is why you’ll see a lot of staring and frowning, but scared I wasn’t.

On the other hand, as a schlock movie the film works. You see the movie, the efforts, the attempts at good dialogue… and you see it failing miserably. As could be expected with this sort of movie, the soundtrack is lifted from classic American movies. You’ll hear the same three songs (I think I identified Rosemary’s Baby, but I suck at recognizing soundtracks) over and over again, whether it’s appropriate for the scene or not (mostly not). Quite overused is “Also sprach Zaratustra”, as used in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Clearly the idea was that if it worked for Stanley Kubrick, it’ll work for The Dead Don’t Talk too. Well… not really.

I couldn’t take The Dead Don’t Walk serious, but I highly enjoyed it.

The second movie is Thirsty for Love, Sex and Murder and it’s a completely different movie: it’s more audacious than the rather prudish The Dead Don’t Talk and there’s good reason for this: it’s an attempt at making a Turkish giallo.
As with other Turkish movies, lots of plot elements (and, of course, the soundtrack) have been borrowed from Italian movies. Onar Films noted on the back cover “it could be a Sergio Martino film but it comes straight from Turkey”. Martino sprang to my mind too, but there’s also a heavy influence from other directors like Dario Argento (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, anyone?).

The main difference is that Thirsty managed to combine this into a movie that ends up being a movie (rather than a melange of bad copies). The liner notes inform us that director Mehmet Aslan had a thing for trash and sleaze and you can definitely see that in this movie. If there had been a guidebook How To Make A Giallo, Aslan managed to study and execute that very well.
The bad news is that Thirsty for Love, Sex and Murder only lasts 57 minutes. But at the same time, this means there’s no time for the movie to get boring (some gialli sadly did outstay their welcome by making the film longer). It’s short but effective, and with quite a bit of gore and nudity (especially for Turkish movies – well, those I’ve seen, anyway).

As for the transfers, you’ll have to bear in mind that Turkey has destroyed a lot of movies in the 80s and that it’s very hard to find a good print. If you still can. Most Turkish B movies seem to be lost forever. So one shouldn’t expect to see these rare Turkish cult movies in crispy states.
The Dead Don’t Talk looks the worst of the two films. It’s taken from a master they could find, which was in satisfactory condition. You can see they’ve attempted to make it look as good as possible, but one shouldn’t expect a miracle. There was one tiny moment where I could see a scene missing: we see our heroine going to ask for help. You can still briefly see she’s walking towards the man who’ll help her later, but this brief instant is all that remains. It’s not a vital scene (as those three characters were already being introduced earlier as people who’d help our heroine in distress) so you won’t miss out on the plot. Onar Films might’ve cut this brief instant to make the movie looks more complete, but on the other hand we’re dealing with extremely rare material and it’s nice to see as much of what remains as possible.
Thirsty for Love, Sex and Murder looks a lot better. It was taken from the only remaining master (in fact, it’s so rare it’s not even mentioned on the IMDb) and the condition of that master was still good. They did try and make it look better and the result is pretty good.

Furthermore, Onar Films has splashed out on the extras. Aside from the trailers of upcoming releases (I myself am quite looking forward to Turkish Superman) and galleries (of Turkish horror and of actor Aytekin Akkaya, actor in a.o. 3 Dev Adam and The Dead Don’t Talk) there are three interviews that’ll give you an inside on the phenomenon of Turkish horror. There’s an interview with Metin Demirhan (author of the book “Turkish Trash Cinema”) and Metin himself will also interview an expert on Turkish trash cinema (Giovanni Scognamillo) and actor Aytekin Akkaya.

This release by Onar Films gives you a great insight into Turkish horror movies as it provides you with one movie that committed daylight robbery without ending up great (unless you’re counting the humongous schlock values of The Dead Don’t Talk) and one example that shows implementing foreign genres on Turkish movies could sometimes work.

The Turkish double bill of Ölüler Konusmazki and Aska Susayanlar Seks ve Cinayet is released by Onar Films in a limited edition of 1200 DVDs. You can get this DVD (and it’s one we at DV sincerely recommend) at Xploited Cinema or straight from Onar Films.

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