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…

Great moments in cinema: Queen of Black Magic

Long before the Mondo Macabro DVD release, I was happy to own a VHS copy of Queen of Black Magic. This wonderful Indonesian horror movie from 1979, directed by W.D. Mochtar, boasted great dialogue (don’t play the drinking game for the number of times “magic” is used in this clip or you’ll be drunk within seconds) and superb effects.

It looks as if this clip is also taken from a Belgian VHS tape (given the Dutch and French subs), so it may even be my copy. Now that would be magic…

P.S. Feel like playing a game? Let’s go then: here are clues to the next three reviews. Feel free to reveal the answers or check in on the 15th, 20th and 25th to see if you were correct.

1. It’s about time someone casts Amanda in a decent movie.
2. Milk is good for you… allegedly.
3. Seriously, it’s not photoshopped.

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?

R.I.P. Juan Piquer Simon

“He makes [films] because he loves making them, whatever the outcome.”

That would be the best way to describe J.P. Simon (as he liked to call himself on his foreign releases). Simon was the director of Slugs, Pieces, Les Nuevos Extraterrestres and Supersonic Man.

A clip from his E.T.-like movie is featured in this montage (fast forward to 1:20 if you must). Here’s a homemade trailer for Pieces. It’s quite gory, but should make you realize the man made more than Supersonic Man.

Who Killed Captain Alex?

And now for a bit of good news: Uganda now has its first action movie. If you found “Belgium made its first giallo” sound ridiculous… you were right… but it’s still nowhere as ridiculous as Who Killed Captain Alex?, the first action movie made in Uganda.

According to Ugandan newspaper The Observer, Who Killed Captain Alex? is about the aftermath of a police raid in Kampala (Uganda’s capital), in which a police captain (Alex) and a drug racketeer’s brother are killed. Both sides were out for revenge and a bloody ‘war’ ensued.
Sounds like a lot of action? Wrong, this sounds like a lot of “ALALALALALACTION”. And sadly that’s a quote from the trailer and/or the film. Because the beginning of the film is pretty much like the trailer. And the most wonderful display of a non-sequitur story you’ve ever seen. But bear in mind the story is nowhere near as mind-blowing as the special effects.

Sounds like it’s time for the trailer? You bet!

Who Killed Captain Alex? was released by Ramon Film Productions. May they live long.

ARTE Trash salutes Ed Wood in November

Nothing brings us greater pleasure than the return of Arte Trash. Thursday nights around 1am pan-European viewers can watch the lowest of the lowest, the sickest of the sickest and the weirdest or the weirdest. Here’s what’s coming up…

OCTOBER (continued)

Oct 28: Baixio das Bestias
A man falls in love with a teenage girl, who is exploited by her own grandfather, who sometimes takes her to a gas station to show her naked to whomever pays him some money.


November is Ed Wood month. Hailed as the worst director ever (though, honestly, here at DV we’ve seen a lot of worse movies), Arte Trash is keen on showing you if Wood deserves this reputation or not. Three of his movies, starting with his most notorious one, will be aired on Thursday nights. (The following comments and summaries come from Amazon.)

Nov 4: Plan 9 From Outer Space
Plan 9 is the story of space aliens who try to conquer the Earth through resurrection of the dead. Psychic Criswell narrates (“Future events such as these will affect you in the future!”) as police rush through the cemetery, occasionally clipping the cardboard tombstones in their zeal to find the source of the mysterious goings-on. More than just a bad film, Plan 9 is something of a one- stop clearinghouse for poor cinematic techniques: The time shifts whimsically from midnight to afternoon sun, Tor Johnson flails desperately in an attempt to rise from his coffin, and flying saucers zoom past on clearly visible strings. Fading star Bela Lugosi tragically died during filming, but such a small hurdle could not stop writer-producer-director Ed Wood. Lugosi is ingeniously replaced with a man who holds a cape across his face and might as well have “NOT BELA LUGOSI” stamped on his forehead.

Nov 11: Bride of the Monster
Bela Lugosi plays Dr. Vornoff, a mad scientist working on a race of superbeings in his lab. His process of clamping a metal lampshade onto the heads of his subjects and zapping them with radiation usually kills them, but the monstrous Lobo (Tor Johnson) survives and becomes Vornoff’s assistant. Vornoff’s plans go awry, though, when he tries to get a nosy reporter to mate with Lobo and winds up being given the atom treatment himself. Suffice it to say that there’s a grappling match between Vornoff and Lobo until the evil doctor falls into a pit and wrestles a rubber octopus. Stock footage of lightning and an atomic explosion round things out for a great non sequitur of an ending.

Nov 18: Glen or Glenda?
Often mentioned as a contender for the title of Worst Movie Ever Made, Glen or Glenda? (a.k.a. I Changed My Sex, a.k.a. I Led Two Lives, a.k.a. He or She) remains Ed Wood’s weirdest film–and, for the director of Plan 9 from Outer Space, that’s saying something. Yet Glen or Glenda? goes way beyond camp, into some unique zone of demented personal expression, an essay/collage/autobiography that is no less fascinating just because it comes from a second-rate mind. Wood himself, under the pseudonym Daniel Davis, plays a transvestite struggling to reveal his tendencies to his wife (the toneless Dolores Fuller, Wood’s missus in real life). Mixed in with this exploitation story is a ton of irrelevant stock footage, as well as disconnected glimpses of Béla Lugosi bellowing at the audience; Lugosi’s dialogue is a tapestry of non sequiturs and portentous warnings.

Now you see it, now you don’t… Trash!

What on earth has been happening to Arte Trash? Without any information it’s been jumping from day to day, on different slots to boost. Here’s an update from August onwards.


Fri 6: Alucarda
A young girl’s arrival at a convent after the death of her parents marks the beginning of a series of events that unleash an evil presence on the girl and her mysterious new friend, an enigmatic figure known as Alucarda. Demonic possession, Satan worship, and vampirism follows.

Fri 13: Bubba Ho-Tep
Elvis and JFK, both alive and in nursing homes, fight for the souls of their fellow residents as they battle an ancient Egyptian Mummy.

Thu 19: Sympathy for the Devil
Jean-Luc Godard films the Rolling Stones. Part of the “Summer of the 60s” season.

Thu 26: Les Idoles
Part of the “Summer of the 60s” season. Gigi la folle, the wrongly innocent sweet blonde played by Bulle Ogier, was inspired by pop singer France Gall, whereas Charlie le surineur, played by a wild Pierre Clémenti, is more or less Johnny Hallyday: a supposed natural-born rebel, in fact a totally artificial marketing produce. Jean-Pierre Kalfon, the last of the idols, plays a dishevelled and mystic palm reader turned into a frantic singer, a compromise between the Beatles under their indian period and a bunch of psychedelic bands such as they existed then. The three of them dance and sing all along like roaring lions, giving a very impressive performance of raw pop power. The portrait director Marc’o gives of the French youth on the eve of May 1968 is of a world seething in unrest, reading supposed rebellion orders on the lips of their teen idols. (adapted from an IMDb review)


Fri 3: Lions Love
Agnes Varda directed this fascinating cinema verte like fictional film in 1969. The film traces Gerome Ragnai and James Rado (the composers of HAIR) and Andy Warhol actress Viva as they try to break into the Hollywood lifestyle. American feminist icon filmmaker Shirley Clarke is featured in an extended role, also playing a fictionalized version of herself. Clarke is attempting to get studio financing for a film project that seems to be consciously satirizing the struggles Varda must have had in getting this film made. This film is funny, beautifully shot and imaginatively edited. It is a must see for fans of Varda and the French New Wave. (taken from the IMDb)

Thu 9: This Filthy Earth
The tragic story of two sisters whose lives are disrupted by two men. Amidst a landscape of rural hardship and a community consumed with superstition, events unfurl which threaten their sibling bond.
According to Arte, Andrew Kötting places himself next to Lars von Trier, John Boorman and Pasolini with his debut movie. Poetic and powerful trash.

Thu 16: Tokyo Drifter
In this free-jazz gangster film, reformed killer “Phoenix” Tetsu drifts around Japan, awaiting his own execution until he’s called back to Tokyo to help battle a rival gang. Seijun Suzuki’s “barrage of aestheticised violence, visual gags, [and] mind-warping color effects” got him in more trouble with Nikkatsu studio heads, who had ordered him to “play it straight this time.” Instead he gave them equal parts Russ Meyer, Samuel Fuller, and Nagisa Oshima.

Thu 23: Calamari Union
Finnish film Calamari Union by Aki Kaurismäki is not at all a motion picture with a defined setting, but more of a visual experience with surreal touches which must be seen many times to feel the plight of hapless rock musicians in an urban milieu. The band exists of 14 people, 13 of which are called Frank.

Thu 30: Les Lèvres Rouges
Watch out: this starts at the later hour of 01:10! But try and stay awake for this Belgian cult classic by director Harry Kümel. You may know this film under its English title, Daughters of Darkness.
A newlywed couple are passing through a vacation resort. Their paths cross with a mysterious, strikingly beautiful countess and her aide.


Oct 7: Macuaima

Based on the 1928 book by Mário de Andrade, the modern-day parable follows the misadventures of a black man who is miraculously born to an old woman, who is supposed to be of the indigenous peoples of Brasil, in the jungles of the Amazon. Though born fully-grown, he has the heart of a playful child. After the death of his mother, he comes face to face with a spring that turns him white. With that change, he and his two brothers move to Rio de Janeiro, but are interrogated by street terrorists upon their arrival.
ARTE says: “A radical and excentric take on a Brazilian classic novel.”

No ARTE Trash on Oct 14, but on October 21 a German comedy, Johnny Flash, is scheduled.
Experimental filmmaker Werner Nekes describes in this, his first comedy, the extraordinary career of the pop king of the Ruhr, “Johnny Flash”. This obstinate offspring of the Potzkothen family succeeds in becoming, thanks to the unflagging support of his mother, his manager and „that girl at Music Satellite“ a celebrated pop star. In the final sequence of this satire on show business and mother-son-love, Johnny and his mama wander off into an uncertain horizon, just as Charlie Chaplin once did at the end of his films …