Here is Darrell Buxton’s introduction to the gory Turkish horror BASKIN. Not an exact transcript as Darrell adlibbed and repeated the name Kunt Tulgar numerous times for maximum impact!!!!
Next up on Fright Club is the great 80s mash up movie by Fred Dekker and Shane Black. The Monster Squad where a bunch of kids go up against the titan of terror Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, The Mummy and Gilman in a battle for the ages!
Hello and welcome to Fright Club, QUAD’s regular night of shocks and horror. My name’s Darrell Buxton, I’m a freelance film lecturer and critic, and the host of these Fright Club shows. We usually stage them on a Friday night but have shifted ominously to Saturday the 13th for our presentation this weekend. The movie is BASKIN, a new Turkish feature film that has been picking up acclaim from its successful festival screenings during the past few months and is now being given a wider airing worldwide. Apparently it is only the eighth Turkish production to ever be released in American cinemas, which tells you something about its quality.
Turkey’s been turned into something of a bogey country in recent times, seen by political scaremongers as Europe’s supposed immigration gateway, and unsettled in the past month by an attempted military coup. It may well be the case that real life in certain regions there may be scarier than anything a filmmaking crew can put on screen, but nevertheless the makers of BASKIN have created quite an impact with this offering, an expanded feature-length version of an eleven-minute short put out three years ago.
The history of Turkish cinema is a mixed one, as you might expect. Most famous internationally is the wave of 1970s and 80s unofficial Turkish remakes of Hollywood blockbusters, and I’m damn certain most of you will have seen a few classic clips from some of those on YouTube. In a way these ripoffs predict the recent rise of the ‘Mockbuster’, the straight to DVD stuff from companies like Asylum that can be found in most supermarkets and pound shops – Turkey got there first, most notoriously with the 1982 movie DUNYAYI KURTARAN ADAM, better known as TURKISH STAR WARS, which used actual music and film footage lifted from STAR WARS and various other popular sources, combining this with outrageous scenes featuring local actors. SUPERMENLER was Turkey’s version – or one of Turkey’s versions – of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE in 1979, while as early as 1973 they’d done a comedy called TURIST OMER UZAY YOLUNDA in which a lowlife character called Omer, from a popular movie franchise, was beamed aboard the Starship Enterprise for his latest adventure, thereby making this the first ever STAR TREK movie! Again it was a mixture of comic scenes parodying STAR TREK, edited in alongside unauthorised and illegally-utilised footage from the genuine article. Ludicrous Turkish action hero and medallion man extraordinaire, the splendidly-named Kunt Tulgar, has picked up a cult following for his absurdly over the top extravaganzas too – he directed his own SUPERMAN copy, SUPERMEN DONUYOR, in 1979 and starred in 1972’s camp classic THE DEATHLESS DEVIL, as the playboy babe magnet son of a superhero (‘Copperhead’), taking on the evil Dr. Satan and a ridiculous robot.
Not surprisingly Turkey has been a centre for hard-hitting social and political films too, with directors like Zeki Demirkubuz and Nuri Bilge Ceylan attempting to reflect the times and the situations their troubled country has found itself in during the 21st century, a state of affairs stemming back to the 70s and 80s where directors like Yilmaz Guney were sometimes imprisoned for anti-state activity – famously, Guney directed several movies while incarcerated, smuggling instructions out to a surrogate and crew so they could shoot films on his behalf.
What of Turkish horrors, then? Well there haven’t been many. There’s an early 1950s vampire outing called DRAKULA ISTANBUL’DA, which I’ve seen and which is pretty decent; plus the inevitable ripoff of THE EXORCIST, called SEYTAN and released in 1974, which virtually copies its inspirational predecessor scene-by-scene. And that was about it, until recent times when there has been a mini-flurry of activity, bringing new movies such as THE GHOSTS OF GARIP, HAUNTED, THE VOICE and THE LITTLE APOCALYPSE to Turkish screens. Nothing had broken out internationally until now, though. so the attention BASKIN has been picking up is a reflection of how global the current horror scene can be, and the way in which festivals and distributors are scouring the entire world for potential hit titles to release.
BASKIN fully deserves its popular success – and in some ways it combines the strands of its country’s own cinematic traditions, touching upon local concerns while bringing a Turkish spin to familiar images and ideas from past movies. BASKIN sees a team of five cops who react to a distress call from a particularly notorious area, and in responding to the call, may well have taken themselves to Hell, both figuratively and literally. The film has been compared to the work of Clive Barker and Lucio Fulci, and there are key shocking moments here that certainly echo the look, feel, and general tone and atmosphere of movies like HELLRAISER, HELLBOUND: HELLRAISER II, ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS, and THE BEYOND, with nods to the SILENT HILL films and video games along the way. Even Paul Thomas Anderson’s MAGNOLIA gets referenced too! This is a confident and clever debut feature from director Can Evrenol – Evrenol previously made the more concise test version of BASKIN as well as a number of other short films, and I highly recommend his THE PENCIL from 2012. THE PENCIL was one of six pieces commissioned by the London horror festival FrightFest, under the banner ‘Turn Your Bloody Phone Off’, intended as an advisory visual warning to audiences about the prohibited use of mobiles in the auditorium – it’s just 37 seconds long but manages to offend, outrage, disgust, depict some extreme sexual content, and get its intended message over, all in that allotted time. Truly shocking, truly impressive.
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/48603919″>Frightfest 2012 – The Pencil – Turn Off Your Bloody Phone</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/neerdowellfilms”>Ne'er do Well Films</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Back to BASKIN, I really think you’ll appreciate this one in the way it pits a bunch of jobbing coppers against something way off their usual beat. The main cast all acquit themselves well – early on there’s a nice establishing ‘restaurant conversation’ a la RESERVOIR DOGS, and there’s a super scene where they all start to raucously join in with a pop song playing on the radio, while driving to the scene of the main action – and the second half of the movie takes us into some decidedly unpredictable territory. One cast member in particular, Mehmet Cerrahoglu, has been receiving great reviews from the critics, and he contributes a new, iconic horror character that audiences will remember for years to come – the actor himself suffers from a terrible skin condition, but in the tradition of 1940s monster movie star Rondo Hatton, or more recently the neurofibromatosis-suffering Adam Pearson from UNDER THE SKIN, Mehmet has turned what many might see as a deformity to his advantage here, and dominates the film from the moment he enters.
I’d love to be able to finish here with a dreadful pun about a certain famous foodstuff – but it’s fair to say that BASKIN is very much the opposite to ‘Turkish Delight’…