Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Ölüler konusmaz ki (1970)

... aka: Dead Don't Talk, The

Directed by:
Yavuz Yalinkiliç

While on some kind of business trip, Melih (Aytekin Akkaya) and his timid wife Oya (Oya Evintan) stop in a small town, are picked up by a carriage and whisked away to the country. The coachman isn't keen on taking them there. After all it's the 15th of the month and it's the 15th of the month and, in case you didn't know, it's the 15th of the month. We know that because he mentions that no less than five times in the span of about two minutes. The coachman is in such a hurry to get back home that he takes off without being paid. Upon entering a mansion / guest house, they find a dinner table with two place settings and warm food... even though no one has any reason to be expecting them. Oya begs Melih to leave but he says not to worry. He's brought along a gun. Now someone needs to tell him he shouldn't point it right at his wife's face whenever he's talking to her.

The mansion caretaker, Hasan (Giray Alpan), soon shows up. To say Hasan is strange and sinister is quite the understatement. The man walks slow. He talks slow. He seldom makes sense. He sometimes appears to be deaf but at other times can hear perfectly fine. He says "Good night" like he wants to rip your throat out. He may or may not be a ghost. And he registers high enough on the creep-o-meter that any sane person would want to be about 500 miles away from him. After dinner, Oya is led downstairs to a shrine where Hasan goes into a mad rant about a woman in a painting and how she left him and how everybody he loves just leaves him. Despite that, Melih and Oya decide to spend the night. In separate bedrooms. A constantly-laughing, square-shouldered zombie man (Jirayr Çarkçi) then shows up and kills both of them.

At a cemetery, some grave robbers finishing digging up a corpse and it suddenly springs to life; scaring them so badly they both immediately fall over. I'm not sure if they fainted or dropped dead. Either way, neither is ever seen again. I suppose I should also mention that this is the same zombie man who killed Melih and Oya in the haunted mansion so I'm not quite sure what he's suddenly doing buried. During a storm, a tree branch busts through a sleeping woman's window and the zombie man enters. That woman is never seen again. He then goes after an entirely different woman and picks her up after she passes out. She is never seen again. We then cut to a bedroom where a dying man - school director Nuri (Doğan Tamer) - falls over dead. The zombie man then enters the room and it suddenly cuts away to a sun rising above the horizon. Just what in the hell is going on here?!

New-to-the-area schoolteacher Sema (Sema Yaprak) takes a coach to the haunted mansion. She goes through the same exact routine as the murdered couple. Her driver leaves before she can pay him, the front door of the mansion opens and closes all by itself, she finds a dinner on the table and she meets Hasan, who shows her his painting and goes on the same rant. Sema, who for some ungodly reason just decides to stay there, then becomes acquainted with a few other people. First off is Kerem (Kerem Mertoglu). He's a hunter. We know that because he's carrying a hunting rifle, has a hunting dog and says "My name is Kerem. They call me Kerem the hunter." An out-of-towner, Kerem tells her there's something off about all the locals, at least fifteen girls have recently disappeared and that ghosts are said to haunt the area. Sema's basically like "Oh, OK" and returns to the haunted mansion.

Sema then has an interesting little conversation with Nuri that ends with him screaming at her and then walking away. Even though we already saw Nuri die once, suddenly he's no longer dead. Or he's now a ghost. Or a zombie. Or his body has been possessed (at one point we see the zombie get up out of bed; leaving Nuri's corpse behind). Either way, he still has his day job. The rest of the movie features repetitive scenes of the maniacal zombie man trying to get to Sema, though for some reason he doesn't kill her even when he has multiple opportunities. Sema never looks overly concerned about any of it either. The hunter and his pals eventually organize a prayer posse to send the zombie back to the grave.

We'll get to the good news first, starting with the fact this has some potent nightmare imagery and a great spooky vibe to it; partially due to the low budget, crudeness of the production and overwrought performances (which often recalls silent films) and black-and-white photography. There's also some very interesting use of mirrors and shadows here. In many shots (filmed in the same room of the mansion) you get to see the character, their reflection in a mirror and a shadow of them on the wall all at the same time. Sometimes these are mixed up like when our heroine is in the room and the zombie is coming for her and we see both his reflection in the mirror and his large, imposing shadow cast against the wall. These shots are simple but effective.

As for the bad... How much time we got here? Let's just say that Ed Wood never made anything nearly this incompetent even on his worst day. I think the best way to describe this one is surreally terrible. For starters, it's filled with lots of long static takes occasionally (and very abruptly) cut up with mismatched close-up face shots. And then there's the atrocious editing and nonexistent continuity. All of the music is stolen from two films: ROSEMARY'S BABY, which fits the vibe of the film, and 2001: A Space Odyssey (?!), which does not. Shots of irrelevant nonsense quickly flash on the screen for a few seconds for no good reason. You'll be in the middle of a scene and it suddenly cuts to a house exterior shot and then returns to the rest of the scene. Huh? I couldn't even tell if this was a reconstruction of surviving footage or if this is just how the film has always been.

The characters aren't defined at all (outside of seemingly having a death wish and making slasher movie teens look like Rhodes Scholars) and their actions seldom make sense. As for the sinister / dead characters... Who are they? What are they? What are they trying to accomplish? Are they ghosts? Are they zombies? What gives with the Hasan character and why does he just disappear from the film all of a sudden? Why are all of the townspeople weird? Is the entire town filled with ghosts? There's no explanation behind any of this. The title itself raises even more questions since the "dead" in this film never seem to shut up!

For a long time, this was thought missing, until a copy was located at Yeni Lale Film Stüdyosu. Onar Films then put this out on DVD (with English subs for the very first time) in 2007. Their release also comes with a second feature: the giallo THIRSTY FOR LOVE, SEX AND MURDER (1972). 

The search continues for a single - just one - good Turkish horror film made before 1990...

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