Captain America and legendary Mexican wrestler El Santo fly to Instanbul to take on the villainous Spider Gang and their masked leader, who is running a complicated scheme involving counterfeiting dollars and antique smuggling.
Copyright be damned! The history behind the cheap, and often bizarre, Turkish remakes of big-budget Hollywood product in the 1970s and 1980s is somewhat murky at best. However, it does seem there were very high taxes levied on importing American films and this led to cinema showings in only the wealthiest places, usually on the coast. It was a time of great domestic political turmoil in the country, so there was an immense demand for popular escapist entertainment, particularly in the poorer, inland regions. But what to show when the big, global hits of the day were completely out of reach? Homegrown remakes, of course! Obvious titles were ‘Süpermen Dönüyor’ (Turkish Superman) (1978), and the immortal ‘Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam’ (Turkish Star Wars)’ (1982). But what to do before Hollywood invented the summer blockbuster? Remake old serials from the 1930s & 40s or, better still, go to comic books for inspiration!
The story here is just your normal ‘cops & robbers’ type tale, with the twist of a masked villain with a secret identity. It’s a meat and potatoes plot from an old Hollywood chapter play, with our main hero being Captain America, played by Aytekin Akkaya from ‘Turkish Star Wars’ (1982). He tracks down the evil doers much as he did in the Republic Studio serial of 1944, only minus both shield and motorbike. In fact, it seems that he’s just an ordinary cop who dresses up in a costume because the Spider-Man has one, although that plot point, like so many others, is left rather obscure. He’s assisted by caped wrestler El Santo (Yavuz Selekman) and girlfriend Julia, who does most of the undercover work but doesn’t have a costume of anything, because she’s just a girlie. The plot involves some blah about a fashion show, a strip club, stolen statues, a yacht (which we never see) and forged bank notes. It doesn’t make an awful lot of sense. And that’s being kind.
The fight scenes are poorly staged (more martial arts than fisticuffs or wrestling) and the production, directed by T. Fikret Uçak, is tatty and unambitious. But there are some definite reasons to watch, the most obvious one being its slightly inaccurate portrayal of Spider-Man.
Not only is this webslinger a criminal mastermind, who doesn’t sling any webs or climb walls, he’s also a psychopathic killer. In the film’s opening scene, his gang bury a young woman up to her neck in sand and then introduce her face to an outboard motor! Later on, we find out the not so friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man has a thing for showers, strangling one woman with a hose attachment and then slashing a lovemaking couple with a switchblade. Spidey also despatches one of his minions by having starving mice run down a giant tube to eat his face, in what seems to be a bizarre nod to the Room 101 sequence in Orwell’s ‘1984’. There’s also a sex scene that features a completely random cutaway to what appear to be two giggllng garden gnomes! All quite puzzling!
The film has several other delights on offer, including mismatched ‘superhero’ music playing over one of the slowest car chase you’ll ever see, and villiains repeatedly shooting the good Captain in the body when his head is unprotected. This is an obvious mistake, of course, because his blue suit is bulletproof, so bulletproof in fact that he doesn’t even wince when shot. The climax is also dleriously nonsensical with the apparent revelation that there are multiple Spider-Men who turn up one after the other when the Captain’s dealt with the last one. Can I offer an explaination for it? No.
It’s all great fun for lovers of the trashier end of cult cinema and well worth seeking out.