Tag Archives: Turkish

CAPSULE: BASKIN (2015)

DIRECTED BY: Can Evrenol

FEATURING: Gorken Kasal, Ergun Kuyucu, Mehmet Cerrahoglu, and Muharrem Bayrak

PLOT: A team of five police officers is called to provide backup at an abandoned building in Inceagac, a locale of some occult notoriety; things go badly pretty quickly for the officers as they travel deeper into the film’s ominous backdrop.

Still from Baskin (2015)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: In an earlier age it could have been considered among the finest “B-horror” movies to grace the midnight movie scene during the ’80s through early ’90s, but as it stands, Baskin’s competent execution is marred by the tale’s derivative and meandering nature. Some token shocks do their job nicely, but the “film twist” advertises itself far too blatantly and doesn’t come off so much as, “Didn’t see that coming, did ya?” as it does, “Hey, check out what I’m doing!”

COMMENTS: Baskin starts out with a mountain of promise that it proceeds to dynamite away, taking the occasional break from destruction to rebuild the edifice. The movie starts with a flashback to the childhood of Arda (Gorkem Kasal), the main character, and so the temporal jumps begin. After some creepy behavior and a few screams and shouts, off we go to “now”, where a convivial conversation between fellow-officers contrasts with a restaurant seemingly assembled from bits cast off from Planet Terror‘s BBQ joint. Five cops: the esteemed leader, the arrogant chatterbox, the calm friend, the rookie, and the one with a migraine. After menacing the son of the restaurant’s owner (and seeing an ominous frog in the men’s room), the gang stumbles out to continue its patrol.

Much to its credit, Baskin does a lot of things right. The main fellows are easily distinguishable from one another (even when having to rely on subtitles), each of them is interesting, and the rapport struck on screen seems truly genuine; it’s apparent these policemen have worked with each other for a while. The sound design, too, adds to the realism. The dialogue always comes from the right place, and once the element of the macabre is snuck in, the various squelches, squidges, and scrapings all work to nice effect. The set piece of an abandoned Ottoman-era police barracks, too, is a perfect choice. The jump cuts convey an appropriate initial shock as well as add to a growing sense of dread. I had such high hopes.

Unfortunately, the movie falls apart by trying to do two things at once — and through this effort, succeeds at neither. Firstly, the “horror” element. Having already listed the merits above, it pains me to mention the failings. As events shuffle from the restaurant to the squad car to the crash before the evil building, things proceed apace well enough. Sure, there’s no need for the swarms of little frogs that litter the movie, and indeed the gypsy-style family by the barracks in utterly unnecessary—but, live and let live. It is when the crew descends the depths that this pastiche of classic horror collides badly with the “clever” thing the film tries to accomplish… the main impact of which I shall leave to the more adventurous reader to investigate. I will hint, though, that it’s the kind of thing I’ve only seen done well by , who was obliged to be counted among cinema’s greatest directors in order to handle his jumps correctly.

But enough cryptic ramblings. Baskin tries very hard, but comes up short. When you have a shocking horror picture, it certainly helps that your characters are great to watch interacting with one another, but that means you compromise your core asset when you begin killing them off. The 11-minute short film that the feature-length grew from, though, was a delight. Comparable setup, though (obviously) less fleshed out. However, whereas the original short managed to quickly establish and maintain a very unsettling mood, the director’s reach clearly exceeded his grasp when he tacked on another 80 minutes of movie. Still, Baskin was Evrenol’s first full-length attempt. I would certainly be willing to give his sophomore effort a try.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“A heady blend of Ambrose Bierce and Herk Hervey, of Lucio Fulci and David Lynch, and of Nicolas Winding Refn and Dario Argento (these last two channeled through director of photography Alp Korfali’s hyperreal lighting), Baskin is an astonishingly assured debut. Driven offroad by Ulas Pakkan’s unnerving ’80s synth score, it is a surreal, uncompromising, bestial and eerily beautiful descent into a hell of self-knowledge, whose precise entry and exit points remain difficult to determine.”–Anton Bitel, TheHorrorShow.TV (festival screening)

CAPSULE: 3 DEV ADAM (1973)

3 Mighty Men; 3 Giant Men

DIRECTED BY: Tevfik Fikrat Ucat

FEATURING: Aytekin Akkaya, Yavuz Selekman, Dogan Tamer

PLOT: Captain America and Mexican wrestling champion Santo travel to Istanbul to help defeat

Still from 3 Dev Adam (1973)

evil antiques stealer Spider.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: It has its illucid moments, but there’s not enough consistent high absurdity beyond its preposterous pop premise. I admit that when three laughing puppet heads inexplicably appear in the middle of a sex scene, I was strongly tempted to make this movie a candidate for the List. But, at bottom, if you take the copyright-violation costumes off the actors and you would have a mildly exciting, ridiculous, and extremely cheap action film; a fun oddity to be sure, but not in the same league as the weirdest movies of all time.

COMMENTS: I’m not saying this movie would make a great deal of sense if the villain weren’t a blatant Spiderman knockoff, but about 90% of what makes 3 Dev Adam look absurd to us comes from the “facts” we know about Marvel’s classic superhero. Here in the West we realize that Spiderman does not wear a green costume with a red cowl and an overweight arachnid on the back. We know that his eyebrows aren’t so bushy that they stick out of his mask by a good two inches. And, most importantly, we know that Spidey does not bury women up to their necks in the sand and then pumice their faces with the propeller of a motorboat. If Adam‘s director is to be believed, it was no problem to make Spiderman into a villain because Turkish moviegoers had no idea who he was, which begs the question: why bother to rip off foreign superheroes at all if your audience doesn’t know who they are? Perhaps Turks were more familiar with Captain America and Mexican wrestling hero Santo than with Spiderman, because these two crime fighters are garbed more faithfully in suits that look like they might have been rented from costume shops in Manhattan and Guadalajara, respectively. But this brings up another issue: these two heroes don’t have any superpowers, Captain America doesn’t have a magic shield, and neither has a secret identity to protect, so there’s no obvious reason for them to get all Continue reading CAPSULE: 3 DEV ADAM (1973)