• The Deathless Devil/Tarkan Versus The Vikings (Mondo Macabro) DVD Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: October 5th, 2005.
    Director: Yilmez Atadeniz/Mehmet Aslan
    Cast: Kunt Tulgar, Mine Mutlu, Erol Tas,Muzaffer Tema/Kartal Tibet, Eva Bender, Seher Seniz, Fatma Belgen
    Year: 1972/1971
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    The Deathless Devil/Tarkan Versus The Vikings – Movie Review:

    I want to move to Turkey. No, really, I do. The Pacific Northwest (which is where I lived when this review was originally written fifteen years ago) is nice and all, but if their cinema is to be believed, and I think that it is, Turkey is a magical land of foxy gals who take off their clothes at the drop of a hat, and manly men with crazy facial hair. Istanbul looks like my kind of town, with its many superheroes and no shortage of hot women in site.

    Turkey also happens to be the world’s leading producer of hard shell nuts, ensuring that the people who live there are never in want of tasty, healthy snacks. Want more? They also make a mean cigarette in Turkey, and have over five thousand miles of warm, Mediterranean coastline.

    Mondo Macabro once again somehow taps into my strange sensibilities of right and wrong and hits us with a one-two punch to the brain with the first of what will hopefully be many DVD releases (sadly, in 2020, we learn that was not the case) from the golden age of Turkish popular cinema – The Deathless Devil and Tarkan Versus The Vikings! Let’s take a look…

    THE DEATHLESS DEVIL (Yilmayan Seytan):

    Not only does the diabolical Dr. Satan (pronounced Dok-tore Shey-ten) have the best moustache ever, but he’s also got an evil scheme in place to steal the technology that some professor has invented that allows him to control things such as robots and airplanes remotely. He plans to use this technology to control an army of robots that he plans on building and via the wonders of this remote control system, have them do his bidding – possibly world domination but that’s never really made all too clear in this film.

    Unfortunately for Dr. Satan, a young man played by an actor with the regrettable name of Kunt Tulgar has just found out that his late father was really a superhero named Copperhead from his adopted father who has raised him as his own. He takes his father’s mask and puts it on, bringing the family tradition back to life. Copperhead is once again on the scene to save Istanbul from the likes of Dr. Satan and his diabolical cronies. He, along with his horrifyingly unfunny comic relief sidekick guy, Clad in a Sherlock Holmes costume and constantly zooming his eyes in on the fine shapely buttocks of the female population of Istanbul (not Constantinople), set out to save the professor and his pretty daughter from Dr. Satan and his henchmen (and the odd robot or two) before he’s able to remote control his way to whatever it is that he’s after.

    Of course, being a superhero like Copperhead also means you get to score with hot Turkish women who take off their tops at the drop of a hat to reveal perky fun, and he takes the time out of his busy schedule for a little bit of that as well.

    Obviously influenced by the Italian fumetti of the sixties and the films that were spawned from those comic books such as Maria Bava’s Danger! Diabolik, Yilmez Atadeniz’s film is a deliriously wild film that puts a bizarre Turkish spin on many Eurospy/superhero clichés. While Mr. Kunt makes for a pretty suave hero and can certainly jump over things and kick really high when he needs to, the real stars of this film are the bad guys. Dr. Satan has got to be, hands down, one of the coolest cinematic bad asses of all time.

    It never really matters that we don’t really know what he’s up to – it’s obviously very evil and it needs to be stopped for the good of mankind. The role is played with such sinister finesse that it’s hard not to love the guy, and my God, that moustache – what I wouldn’t do to have a moustache like that! Do you know how many foxy ladies would want to ride that thing? I bet Dr. Satan has to beat the ladies off with a stick. And then there’s the robot. Wow. This robot makes the Daleks from Dr. Who look really impressive by comparison. Obviously some poor sap got talked into wandering around in what looks to be a very hot costume made out of left over dryer parts and a few cardboard boxes covered in silver spray-paint.

    TARKAN VERSUS THE VIKINGS (Tarkan Viking Kani):

    Kartal Tibet is… Tarkan! A mighty barbarian warrior guy who runs around with his dog, Kurt, saving pretty women from danger. He’s currently in the employ of the daughter of an important political person who runs afoul of some bloodthirsty Turkish Vikings who worship a bizarre Lovecraftian mean eating octopus. Why do they want the girl? Why, to sacrifice her to their god, of course!

    The Vikings, lead by a guy with the most amazing moustache ever (he and Doctor Satan have that in common), land their Viking ship outside of the castle where she lives, and soon have killed off all of her men, with only Tarkan left breathing, laying unconscious and presumed dead on the floor of the courtyard after a bloody battle ensues. Tarkan isn’t going out like that, however and once he gets his strength back, he and Kurt track down the Turkish Vikings and set out to save the pretty damsel and save her from certain doom at the hands of the half inflated eight legged demigod.

    Based on a popular and long running comic book series in Turkey, Tarkan is essentially a bizarre Conan The Barbarian rip off but done in only the way that strangest film industry in the world do it. Vikings who hatchet babies, dogs that can scale castle walls while their tails wag all the while, some of the most unconvincing Viking costumes and facial hair appendages ever seen on the silver screen, and a few truly off the wall set pieces such as a Viking/wench orgy make this one a film for the ages.

    Once again, while Kartal is fine as the hero, the bad guys steal the show. Why is it that the bad guys in Turkish films are so great? Aside from Dr. Satan and the evil Viking with the big poofy blonde moustache in this movie, there’s also the sinister giant eyebrow Spiderman from 3 Dev Adam and the weird evil guy from Turkish Star Wars. Not to mention all those guys who get their faces ripped off by Cuneyt Arkin in the two Lion Man films – those guys were all great. How is it that so many fine Turkish performers are able to just flat out ‘bring it’ when playing the bad guys? I’m not sure of the how’s and why’s of all of this but I am sure that the Vikings in this film are just as bad ass as any other onscreen Vikings I’ve ever seen, and that includes those that have been played by Kirk Douglas and Ernest Borgnine.

    Even if some of the movie cues on this release sound more than a little familiar (listen for the Pink Panther theme, used to wonderful effect in The Deathless Devil and some oddly recognizable spaghetti western music in Tarkan), even if the characters are pilfered from better known western pop culture icons and even if these look to have been made with a combined budget of about $127.00 Canadian, you can’t help but be won over by their charm, their grace (or complete lack of) and their utter insanity.

    Both films are infectiously fun and, seeing as you’re apt to notice something new each time you watch them, have a lot of replay value. They also go very well with copious amounts of whatever preferred intoxicant you choose to put into your bloodstream (I suggest crack, myself), and with the right kind of indulgence, can take on an almost surrealist tone unlike anything made in any other country.

    Turkish cinema might not be good in the rational sense, but it sure is fun and that’s all that really matters.

    The Deathless Devil/Tarkan Versus The Vikings – DVD Review:

    Well, Mondo Macabro has issued a warning of sorts with this release stating that because so much of the output from this era of Turkish cinema has literally been destroyed (many of the negatives were melted down to get the silver out of them), good quality source material is extremely rare and in most case non-existent. Anyone expecting these films to be on par with MM’s releases of Eurocult films like The Killer Must Kill Again or The Girl Slaves Of Morgana LeFay will likely be disappointed. However, anyone who has seen a number of Turkish films via the various gray market copies in circulation will know what they’re getting into and actually probably be fairly impressed with this presentation.

    The Deathless Devil looks to be taken from a television or tape master as there are some rolls present and some warbled looking spots here and there. Some mild trailing is present and the colors are a little faded. Print damage is there, but I’ve sure seen a whole lot worse in my time, though the image is a bit soft throughout.

    Overall though, the presentation is definitely watchable and a few steps up from, say, the Five Minutes To Live release of Turkish Star Wars. On the other hand, Tarkan Versus The Vikings does manage to fare considerably better than the first feature does. Many of the same problems are evident in this transfer but the colors are definitely brighter and the image is, overall, in slightly better shape.

    Is the video perfect? Nope. Not by a country mile. What you need to remember though is that with the elements needed for a pristine transfer missing in action and probably gone for good, you’ve got to do the best that you can with what you’ve got and that’s what has happened here. After all, I’m sure we’d all agree (at least those of us who love this type of cinema…) that it’s definitely better to have these made available in watchable copies with subs than not at all or only through the bootleg market, right?

    As far as the audio goes, both films are presented in the lovely Turkish language in which they were shot, with English subtitles that do a pretty good job of translating everything we need to know, without going into overkill and subbing screams and death cries and what not. The audio is on par with the video in terms of quality – you can hear the dialogue just fine, but it isn’t always pretty. Some background hiss is there and the high end can be a bit shrill sometimes, but there’s nothing super terrible here to complain about, especially taking into account where these movies were made, how low budget they were, and the source material available.

    The biggest supplement on this release comes in the form of one of Mondo Macabro’s much appreciated documentaries on regional cinema, and of course, the focus on this release is on the pop cinema that came out of Turkey during its heyday. Interviews with some of the directors and stars from this era of wild and out there movie making make up the bulk of the running time but there are plenty of clips in here from various Turkish films to make you wonder what else lays deep within MM’s library soon to be sprung upon us. It also makes you wonder how the Hell this stuff could ever be released here without breaking serious copyright laws, but I digress.

    Important to many of you out there will be the fact that my main man, Cuneyt Arkin, the Lion Man himself, and boulder smashing star of Turkish Star Wars (or, The Man Who Saves The World) is interviewed for this piece and he explains how his odd horse riding and acrobatics training was received while in a stint with a Russian circus. Viva Cuneyt! Look for plenty of great poster art and promotional photos in between the interviews with the men and women who made all this crazy stuff happen and pay attention to learn some interesting facts about the sexy side of Turkish filmmaking!

    Rounding out the supplements are two essays from Mondo Macabro scribe Pete Tombs that give some much appreciated background information on each of the two films on this disc.

    Hopefully, if more volumes are to follow, Mondo Macabro will dig deep into their vaults and treat us to some Turkish poster art, or maybe some lobby cards, as they always tend to be very cool and completely off the wall. A commentary or two with some of those involved in these films would also be much appreciated (though I’m probably reaching with that one, realistically). With such scattered and rare releases of this material out there, it’s nice to see some effort being put into the supplements but at the same time, the documentary left me wanting more, more MORE!

    The Deathless Devil/Tarkan Versus The Vikings – The Final Word:

    Mondo Macabro’s Turkish Pop Cinema double feature of The Deathless Devil/Tarkan Versus The Vikings is, without a doubt, one of the coolest pieces of psychotronica from the land of hard shell nuts to ever hit DVD - it’s also one of the only ones, but hopefully that will change and the floodgates of Turkish goodness will burst wide open. Despite the less than perfect audio and video quality, the documentary included is an excellent extra feature and the two films themselves will warm the cockles of your heart time and time again. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about things like robots, topless women and Turkish Vikings, these films spoke to me (albeit in a very gruff and raunchy dialect) in a way that, in hindsight, was almost spiritual. Without hesitation, I can slap this disc three times in a row with the official Rock! Shock! Pop! seal of approval!