Superhero Schlock: The Cat-Beast

Shehnaz Begum directed The Cat-Beast (Da Khwar Lasme Spogmay in its original title) and cast herself as the catlike avenger. Her feline tongue movements are unlike any other you’ve ever seen in a movie before and are so eerily mimicked even David Attenborough could be fooled into thinking we’re dealing with a genuine animal. Well, at least the sponsor of this film was subtle…

R.I.P. (Bill of) Onar Films

The promised regular updates in April didn’t happen and you don’t have to expect them to return this month either. The Avenue will have to update whenever I have a free moment. I don’t mind the busier life as much as I hate the fact of missing important news. Like the death of Bill Barounis in October. Bill was the man behind Onar Films, a small Greek company releasing Turkish cult movies from the 60s and 70s. I say “releasing”, but Bill liked to call it “saving them from obscurity”. Bill’s real name was Vassilis, but he preferred using the American-sounding name Bill to his international customers (he also sold videos on eBay as “deathland”) and correspondents, so in his honour, I’ll stick to Bill throughout this article.
The last I’d heard (from the man himself) was that he’d ended up in a wheelchair after suffering a stroke (caused by a brain tumor). Even that didn’t stop the man from dreaming about a next release.

In his short life, Bill gave 13 dvd releases to the world under the name of Onar Films. He was the mastermind behind the company and got the help from three other people. Bill outlived Metin Demirhan and now, the two remaining men, Turkish director Kunt Tulgar and film journalist Ali Murat Guven, do their best of sell the remaining stock of the Onar Films releases. All the money earned from this will go to Julia, Bill’s widow and their child.

Regular releases cost 25 Turkish lira (approx. 11 euro/14 dollar) and double bills are available for 30 lira (13 euro/17 dollar). You can contact Ali at if you’re interested in a title.
All the movies are down to their last 90 copies or less, apart from Cellat which is finally sold out. If you’ve always wanted to get your hands on dvd releases of Turkish Spiderman (3 Dev Adam), Turkish Superman, Tarzan in Istanbul, Turkish James Bond (Altin Cocuk) or Turkish giallo movies, it’s thanks to Bill that this became possible.

The website to go to is in Turkish, but you can mail them for further information and you’ll get a reply in English (including an estimate of the shipping costs to your country). The link is here, and if you can’t see the list of movies, click on “Filmler” in the tab under the introduction.
I have contacted Ali and he told me they’re trying to get all the stock from Greece to Turkey, but they can only take as many as Customs control allows them. That’s why three of Onar releases will only become available in May. They are Kadin Dusmani (a Turkish giallo), Karanlik Sular (an odd one out for Onar as it was a 90s release) and Demir Pence Korsan Adam (with a Turkish Fantomas as evil mastermind).

Throughout my time as a DV reviewer, I occasionally got my hands on a book or movie to review. I can honestly say that I’ve never corresponded by anyone as passionate about his releases as Bill. This becomes evident in the releases: the first suffered from bad English subtitles and Bill didn’t rest until he found better translators. There is a world of difference between the first and final release of Onar Films. That in itself is enough proof that Onar Films was a labour of love. If you can spare some money, this may be a good way to spend it on. The movies will not be pristine (Bill often worked with the only available prints in order to get something on dvd that was as decent as it could get), but it’s impossible not to watch a dvd of Onar Films and feel the dedication put into this project. If you’re unsure about the films, “Onar Films” is a tag at the Avenue now, so you can get some further information on the movies.

In one of the mails Ali wrote about Bill (which I found on a forum), he wrote: “If you don’t have a deep love for the trash genre, you cannot be a second Bill.”

Bill Barounis will be missed.

Superhero Schlock: Turkish Flash Gordon

I think we’ll make this holiday season even more festive by introducing you to Turkish Flash Gordon or Bay Tekin Fezada Carpisanlar. Two scenes on offer today and they’re equally mindblowing… just the right recipe for a Christmas bonus treat.

First up this scene where the evil minions perform a most dastardly chant. Then the spaceship flies away in terrifyingly realistic special effects and our hero wakes up. Now we learn that Gaultier’s creations for Madonna weren’t that original.

But fear not, for there is more… in scene number two we learn that the spaceship’s driver is also the victim of the same tailor and Flash has to look at a most tyrannic distruction of, erm, some things… we reckon it must have taken the special effects crew a full ten minutes to create these scenes. Provided their coffee break was just in the middle of those ten minutes of course. Enjoy…

Sûpâ robotto Maha Baronu (Roboter der Sterne)

With my largest deadline (for the Dutch coursebook) pending for next week and the good news that some British movies are being re-released for a cheap price (my review copy is on the way), there’s only time for a minor update today. But what an update!

Have you ever asked yourself: where would the world be without superheroes? Answer: nowhere, so it’s high time for another serving of Superhero Schlock.
This time we go to Japan, which eagerly gave us heroes like Ultraman and Inframan. In 1974 Koichi Takano directed The Iron Man or Sûpâ Robotto Maha Baronu, which has been released on DVD in the Trash collection. Wonder why? Then here’s a scene where our hero has to battle against American Footballers with exploding balls and when things don’t look too well, his police friend comes along on a bike that could fly eight years before E.T. managed the same trick.

I only found this scene in German, but don’t let that sort of detail rob you from two minutes of cinematic glory. Who needs language when you have exploding balls?

Superhero Schlock: Tarkan vs the Vikings

Back to the heroes! And today it’s Tarkan who battles the Vikings (which explains the title) as well as a sea monster that looks more disturbing than scary. And let’s not forget man’s best friend, who’s kind enough to run up a wall to save Tarkan. (Well, or so the director would have you believe. Pity they forgot to end the scene just a nanosecond too late.)

Tarkan vs. the Vikings is available on the Mondo Macabro “Turkish pop cinema” dvd.

Turkish Star Wars

Odd, isn’t it, that the best known Turkish adaptation hasn’t been mentioned here? It’s Turkish Star Wars of course (or: The Man Who Saved The World). Perhaps we thought it had already been mentioned? Because there’s no reason one can forget this one. In fact, it’s so inept a trailer or a scene won’t do it justice. Luckily someone had a brilliant idea: putting a couple of clips under the Beastie Boys track “Intergalactic”. So there you go, four minutes of superb cinema history. Fluffy monsters will be decapitated and – thanks to state of the art special effects – you’ll almost believe a man is cut in half. Almost.

No Superhero But Quite Schlock

A couple of years ago I was selling some VHS tapes on behalf of a couple of people, one of which tried to convince me of the coolness of Cynthia Rothrock. Rothrock made martial arts movies, but somehow I couldn’t really be convinced of her talent, mainly because one of her movies was Undefeated. I had to check it (it’s always best to check the quality prior to selling something on eBay) and subsequently learned that ripping cloth off a shirt is apparently quite painful. Anyway, enjoy this scene which I found again while looking for another Superhero Schlock film.

P.S. Be sure to check the Top of 2009 again, to see where Orphan (which I’d overlooked while preparing the list) ended up.

Turkish Star Trek

Yes, Turkish Star Trek exists too. Though we would like to clarify it was released as part of a series of films with the character Ömer (Tourist Ömer) who apparently dreamt weird stories. Never mind that, it’s just a crappy version of Star Trek, which (to be fair) didn’t always have great effects itself. But all will be forgiven after seeing this: Kirk and Spock battle it out against a fearsome fire-breathing monster. Who’ll throw the heaviest rock and who’ll win? Oh, the excitement…