Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Yilmayan seytan (1972)

... aka: Deathless Devil, The
... aka: Deathless Man

Directed by:
Yilmaz Atadeniz

Here's a Turkish attempt at a 15 part serial... all packed into 80 mind-numbing, head-spinning minutes! Like many other Turkish films from the period, this is a carelessly slapped together paean to ineptitude that rips off its plot, characters and in many cases entire scenes (almost shot-for-shot) from other films. The main "inspiration" this time is the 1940 serial MYSTERIOUS DOCTOR SATAN, which ran 267 minutes. The film also draws from the Flash Gordon serial and the Fu Manchu films (the villain is a laughing, sneering, mustachioed megalomaniac dressed in Asian-style clothes obviously patterned after Ming the Merciless and Manchu), the James Bond films (with a handsome, suave, ladies man of a hero and lots of little special gadgets) and many super hero films; possibly even the Santo series (with a masked crime fighter who uses wrestling and karate moves and hides his true identity from everyone). In addition, actual footage from other movies is incorporated in here wherever it'll fit and it also steals snippets of its familiar-sounding scores; Dragnet, The Pink Panther and others. Hell, it even ends with the completely awesome and very catchy novelty electro-pop / disco song "Popcorn" (which was also used in the original release of the hilariously awful yeti / cannibal film SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED).

Inventor and scientist Professor Dogan (Yalin Tolga) has created something called a "Tangait Mine," a device that he feels will forever change the world. I'm not even sure what the thing does since it never really explains, but an American professor is on his way to Istanbul to take a look at it. Criminal mastermind Doctor Satan (Erol Taş) is also interested in the device. His motivations are a bit sketchy, but he basically wants to get his hands on it and use it to take over the world. Meanwhile, Tekin (Kunt Tulgar) learns from his father Mr. Yilmaz (Muzaffer Tema) that he'd been adopted as an infant after his real father - a famous masked crime fighter Copperhead - was murdered by Doctor Satan. Tekin is given Copperhead's mask and a small golden snake used as a calling card before his adopted father (and his secretary) get stabbed to death by an intruder. And that's about it for the plot; Tekin and friends try to stop Doctor Satan from doing whatever it is he's doing.

Doctor Satan goes "ha ha ha ha ha" is a slow, deep voice every time something goes his way. He has a large, killer tin can robot (which would look subpar in a 1930s serial), "death bombs" (which attach to victims and can blow them up with the push of a button) and numerous henchmen (including one who has deadly throwing stars shaped like playing cards) at his disposal. The doctor's lair is decked out in all the usuals for this kind of thing; a basement torture chamber, a room with bullet proof glass windows, a room where the walls close in to crush people and various trap doors. He has somehow managed to get secret video cameras all over the place, including in our heroes headquarters and an airplane that's arriving from the U.S. (!), and follows everything on video monitors.

There are several other principal characters of note. Sevgi (Mine Mutlu), the professor's attractive daughter, gets kidnapped, tied up and then rescued at least three times. She also finds herself tied up in a flimsy crossbow death trap at one point. Bitik (Erol Günaydin) aka Bottom-of-the-barrel-forced-comic-relief, is Tekin's extremely annoying, mugging, bumbling idiot detective sidekick who fancies himself being Sherlock Holmes (and dresses the part). Sexy secretary Ayla (Tijen Doray) shows up to seduce the menfolk (she's actually working for Doctor Satan and associates).

The film contains cheap-looking sets and stupid sound effects (including *boing!* and *cuckoo! cuckoo!"), sometimes the actors look directly at the camera or off to the side to read their cue cards and there's a ton of horribly edited action scenes, taking place outside and indoors, on a truck and on a moving train. Our hero is pretty acrobatic; jumping from high places, leaping right through windows at the bad guys, scaling walls and doing flips, splits and cartwheels during his fights. This thing basically just zips right along from one action scene to the next with absolutely no attempt at pacing or scene continuity. During one scene, a fight begins inside, ends up on the roof and then is suddenly back inside again. On several different occasions, characters who are in safety of their headquarters one minute, then suddenly shown tied up in the bad guy's lair. Several of the characters manage to get themselves kidnapped over and over again.

A truly terrible film... but not an unentertaining one. Taş, who was a top star in his home country and famous there for his portrayal of various bad guys (primarily in action-adventures), later showed up in the Klaus Kinski vehicles THE HAND THAT FEEDS THE DEAD and LOVER OF THE MONSTER (both 1974 and shot in Turkey).

The Mondo Macabro DVD pairs this with the adventure / fantasy TARKAN VERSUS THE VIKINIGS (1971).


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