The nation of Turkey had its gilded age of film from the late 60s to the early 80s. Movies were the one form of entertainment that everyone, from the lowly housemaid to the wealthy landowner, could afford and enjoy. These Yesilcam films (named after the street that housed most of the studios) were cranking out movies at light speed to satisfy hungry movie goers. It also didn’t leave much for the actual budget of the movies, because why spend millions on one when you could make fifty for the same price, just with a few cut corners?
In a desperate scramble for content (and because copyright law wasn’t taken quite as seriously) one of the most popular genres were remakes of American films. Turkey and the US were on good terms and generally liked each other, so Turkish audiences loved seeing the latest American blockbuster…but with familiar Turkish faces (think of the US remakes of popular foreign films, like THE GRUDGE or THE RING). What you’re left with is familiar stories with unfamiliar faces and a budget that–at most–was a fraction of the original.
Here is a brief list of some of the more memorable ones:
The Turkish WIZARD OF OZ. The real name for this movie is AYSECIK VE SIHIRLI CUCELER RULAYAR ULKESINDE (translated to Little Ayşe and the Magic Dwarfs in the Land of Dreams). Although it’s never mentioned that it takes from Wizard of Oz or even credits L. Frank Baum, the inspiration was obvious. An example of cut corners–rather than produce an actual tornado scene, it was “animated” behind the opening credits. YouTube has the full movie. It doesn’t have subtitles but if you’ve ever seen the original you won’t be lost:
Another popular Turkish classic is their version of STAR WARS, DUNYAYI KURTARAN ADAM (aka The Man Who Saved the World). This one is notable for using unauthorized footage from the original to fill in the special effects, and for Luke being about 30 years older than in the US version. This time YouTube does have a subtitled version…in Spanish.
Lest some other fans get jealous, there is a Star Trek remake as well. This one was done as a part of the “Omar the Tourist” series where Omar travels into other movies and hilarity ensures. This time it was played for laughs. YouTube doesn’t have any full versions without running commentary, but it does have some choice clips.
Have you ever wondered what THE EXORCIST would be like without all that pesky Catholicism? Wonder no more because SEYTAN is here for all your Turkish Exorcist needs. It’s near shot-for-shot, even lifts some of the famous music, but without the Catholic under (and over) tones. Again, no English subtitles, but the full version is available.
The one that’s the most mind-blowing of all isn’t an actual remake, but more a homage to some of the world’s favorite characters. 3 DEV ADAM (3 Giant Men) sees Captain American team with the famed Mexican wrestler Santo to fight the evil Spider-Man. Yep, Spider-Man is a really nasty character in this one. It has to be seen to be believed.
This is just a drop in the bucket. Nothing was sacred during that era, not ROCKY, E.T., NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. There’s something for everyone, and nothing is sacred.
QUESTION OF THE NIGHT: What is your favorite movie remake, Turkish or otherwise?