Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Turk Trek

Turk Trek
[Aka: Turkish Star Trek, aka; Ömer the Tourist in Star Trek]
Original Title: Tourist Ömer Uzay Yolunda
Directed by: Hulki Saner, Turkey, 1973
Comedy / Sci-fi, 75min
Distributed by: BijouFlix Releases [www.bijouflix.com]

Finding himself in quite a tight spot facing a shotgun wedding, Ömer [Sadri Alisik] is miraculously rescued when he is beamed onboard The Enterprise. Pretty soon he becomes part of an investigatory party consisting of himself, Mr Spak, [Erol Amaç], Doktor McCoy [Ferdi Merter] and two red-sweater-guys (and we all know what happens to the red sweater guys in Star Trek don’t we!) who are beamed down onto a mysterious planet to find out what the sinister Professor Krater [Kayhan Yildizouglu] and his army of femme fatales are up to. Things get pretty crazy for a while until Kapitain Kirk [Chemil Sahbaz] beams down to the planet to help Mr. Spak and Ömer sort things out.

Well if you’re looking for a freaky and hilarious fun filled movie from Turkey, then I’ve got to recommend this one to you. As far as space parodies go this one hit the nail right on the head and makes an impression even if you don’t get much of the Turkish dialogue. Frequently referred to as the Turkish Star Trek rip off, you have to be fair and point out that Ömer the Tourist in Star Trek is in fact the final part in a series of six Ömer the Tourist movies that Hulki Saner directed starring Sadri Alisik in the lead role as the “out of place” but loveable dope Ömer. And even though you probably sit down to laugh at the cheap “rip-off” you will quite soon be blown away by the impressive opening title sequences and the amazing sets that make up the Enterprise Bridge and locations used for the “alien“planet. Loosely based on the first Star Trek “Man-Trap” episode from the first season which aired in 1966 the plot finds Ömer being beamed right into the heart of the action. On the mysterious planet Professor Krater has found a shape shifting alien that sucks the salt out of its victims, and now Ömer is part of the Enterprise gang trying to escape from Professor Krater and at the same time figure out which of the sexy miniskirted dames and loin clothed male androids is the salt monster. Just for good measure Saner throws in a few memorable homage’s to other classic Star Trek episodes like the Kirk vs. Spock fight from the "Amok Time" episode. So if you what to see a rather decent Star Trek parody complete with cast of Turkish look-a-like Star Trek characters , fake pointy ears, scantily clad babes, sinister foes, and an overweight Turkish tourist completely out of place then this movie is definitely something that you want to check out as soon as possible.

A fun note to wrap things up with is that Tourist Ömer Uzay Yolunda shot in 1973 with it’s 75 minute run could actually be considered the first Star Trek Motion Picture as it took another six years before Robert Wise’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture was first seen on the screen in 1979, and apparently the movie did so well in Turkey that it even was sold to Germany with the Turkish communities there in mind.

Full screen 4:3. The material is obviously taken from a VHS source, but just the sheer cult value of this movie makes up for the few disturbances to the film. Unfortunately there are not any subtitles available, but honestly you don’t really need them. If you’ve seen enough Star Trek you’ll easily figure out what they are going on about, and Ömer’s comedy is all visual.

With it’s origins from VHS the audio is only 2.0 Stereo.

The releasers of this movie, BijouFlix could have easily just put the film on a DVD-R and left it at that, but fortunately they have decided to fill out the disc with a few interesting items, that have nothing to do with the main feature, but are enjoyable to watch all the same. Three trailers for other BijouFlix releases, Anton Giulio Majano’s 1960 shocker Atom Age Vampire, Jason Griscom’s low budget Zombie flick Come Get Some! from 2003, and Ishirô Honda’s amazing 1963 Sci-Fi thriller Matango (aka Attack of the Mushroom People). There’s also “The Bulleteers” an almost eight minute episode of Max Fleischer’s 1942 animated Superman series. Finally there are two fifties/sixties drive-in commercials, one for “Tastee Treet” and an infomercial reminding customers to hang their speakers back before leaving the drive in.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Ghost of Kasane

Ghost of Kasane, The

Original Title: Kaidan Kasane-ge-fuchi
Directed by: Nobuo Nakagawa, Japan, 1957 Horror / Drama, 66 min, Black and White Distributed by: Beam Entertainment / Eclipse Films

Blind masseur Soetsu leaves his loving wife and infant daughter Rui one night and goes to collect a debt from a neighbour samurai. But the samurai is arrogant and refuses to pay up, and when Soetsu pushes him harder to repay the debt, the samurai nonchalantly swipes out his sword and murders Soetsu. Realising what he has done in his outburst of anger, the samurai drags Soetsu’s body to the nearby swamp where he buries it deep in the waters. Later the same night the ghost of Soetsu appears in front of the killer and scares him into madness. In his rage of fear and fury the samurai accidentally killing his wife. Which leaves the samurai with no choice but to take his own life. Twenty years later the now grown daughter or Soetsu, Rui [Kazuko Wakasugi], has fallen in love with a young man called Shinkichi [Takashi Wada], but she could never have known that he actually is the son of her father’s murderer.

Where their innocent love should bloom and evolve it quite rapidly becomes evident that Soetsu’s curse will continue for many generations and pretty soon everyone connected to the curse find them selves face to face with ghosts and terrifying death.

Based on author Enchô San'yuutei’s traditional horror novel Shinkei Kasane ga fuchi from 1859, which quickly became a popular favourite in Japan due to it’s what goes around comes around approach not to far from the eastern way of karmic philosophies. To date there have been some seven different versions of Shinkei Kasane ga fuchi spanning from 1928 to the early seventies, and there was also three TV serials based on the novel. Ghost of Kasane is an early Nakagawa film in many aspects, and his version of San'yuutei’s tale of humanity and revenge from beyond the grave is a wonderful early piece of cinema from in my opinion on of the really great Japanese “Horror” directors. Ok so it’s kind of wrong to label Nakagawa as a horror director as he directed some thirty plus films, but it’s his creepy low paced horror films of the later part of his career that he has come to be mostly know for. There are not too many shocks as we have grown accustomed to them during the last few years of Asian horror, but there are still a few very good moments. The effects are often quite few but when Nakagawa brings them on they work. You have to remember that this film was shot in 57, and being of that time period it’s very well crafted. The sudden shocking transformation of Kazuko Wakasugi from sombre Rui to the hideously deformed monster is very effective, and the restrained way that Nakagawa shows her to us, at first reflected in the waters, is a very good build up to the climactic finale.
The tale unravels in a nice controlled pace, the opening murders and death, the love plot between Rui and Shinkichi, and this is where Nakagawa chooses to focus on the empathy between the two and the people who know them and their forbidden feelings for each other. Obviously they are from different families and classes so their love doesn’t come without social complications. It’s Nakagawa’s focus on the empathy that makes this movie stick out. It’s honestly really a love story with a ghost curse delicately woven in to create a sad and spooky tale where the fate of the main characters has already been decided through the sins of their ancestors.

I probably wouldn’t recommend this movie for anyone trying to find “new” treats within the world of Asian horror, for that I’d probably tell you to check out The Ghost of Yotsuya from 1959 or the masterful Jigoku from 1960, but if you’ve been around the block a few times and want something you haven’t seen then this one might just be right up your street.

Black and White 4:3, Optional English Subtitles.

Dolby Digital 2.0

Biograpies and Filmograpies, but in Japanese
This since long out of print version of The Ghost of Kasane, can be purchased through

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