Saturday, March 03, 2007

Article | Oh the horror!’-- Turkish horror flicks

‘Oh the horror!’-- Turkish horror flicks come out of the coffin

For the past few years, Turkish cinema has been enthusiastically screening horror movies. If you haven't noticed that, you must not have gone to the cinema for at least three days, nor have read anything about movies.

The Taylan brothers started everything with the movie "Okul" (School) in 2004. With the support of Plato Films behind them, at a time when indigenous cinema flirted nicely with the viewer, these two brothers finally released the Turkish genre of horror from its coffin. Despite striking examples in the 1950s and 1970s such as "Drakula İstanbul'da" [Dracula in İstanbul] or "Şeytan" [the Devil], horror really first reached Turkish cinema-goers with "Okul." However, the Taylan brothers probably didn't know that the fuse they ignited would advance so quickly toward an explosion.
Before taking a look at Turkish horror films made in the last three years, it is essential to mention "Gomeda," which was released this week across Turkey. It's the directing debut of Tan Tolga Demirci, who found a fan-base for his short movies -- horror film makers in Turkey are ironically usually first-time directors -- which featured the adventures of a group of young men who go to Capadoccia for a holiday and find themselves in the other world [dead] after some strange adventures. The difference between "Gomeda" and the typical '80s' horror film in which a group of young people are murdered is that "Gomeda" handles it in a very surrealistic atmosphere. In fact, the murder scenes seemed to be filmed in a rush, but one can readily understand by looking at other examples that the Turkish horror movie industry still has a long way to go. Right now, the approach leans toward a few movies blended with a bit of horror and unintended comic details. In other words, there is still a lot to do!

OKUL (2004)
"Why didn't Turks already have an established tradition of horror movies?" This question has been asked over the last few years. The first answer may be that we haven't had an established genre of horror literature up until now. From this perspective, it's difficult to say how much "Hayalet Kitabı" [the Ghost Book] by Doğa Yücel belongs to horror literature or how similar the Taylan brothers' movie is to a pure horror movie. Their film was about the adventures of a group of young students locked up in a school, we cannot say it is pure comedy, with scenes like where one of the students sees an ugly image of himself in the mirror, or another scene where a spider-like creature crawls on his face. Despite its relative lack of success, "Okul" still impresses by being the first in its field.


BÜYÜ (2004)
Expectations should have been kept very low for Orhan Oğuz, a director who makes a point out of saying "I don't watch horror movies" in his statements to the press, however, he must have thought that he could tackle the difficult task of shooting a horror movie. Unfortunately, all one cay say after watching the movie is that he failed miserably. While you are preoccupied with how a horror movie can possibly be shot without having any exposure to the genre, we'll also take a look at the state that actors such as İpek Tuzcuoğlu, Ece Uslu, Özgü Namal, Nihat İleri and Okan Yalabık were in when attending the movie's premiere.
The movie takes place in Turkey's southeast. A team of archaeologists finds trouble instead of a book they are searching for belonging to the Sultan Salih of Aruk. I suppose it's not necessary to say that a bloody and scary demise awaits this team. Close to the end of the movie, an escalating Islamic theme enters in that is reminiscent of movies of the West that have waves of Christian doctrine running through them.


DABBE (2005)
Similar to "Büyü," "Dabbe" used the Holy Quran as a reference also combining elements of horror films of the Fareast. Director Hasan Karacadağ, who we have apparently imported from Japan, created a low-budget flick whose main problem was that the cast were acting as if their audience and co-stars were Japanese. And much to our surprise, when we discovered that the movie had been influenced by a Japanese production "Kairo," the whole thing left a bad taste in our mouths.


ARAF (2006)
Biray Dalkıran, another first time director, comes from a background in the commercial industry. His movie "Araf" was unanimously cited as the worst movie of 2006 by critics. (Maybe first time directors taking on a genre that is as difficult as horror is the reason for all these unfortunate movies). "Araf" tells the story of a young woman who is forced to have an abortion after she finds out she is pregnant as a result of an illicit relationship. The component of horror in the movie begins when the aborted fetus comes back to find its mother.


GEN (2006)
Twenty one-year-old Togan Gökbakar's Hollywood-inspired movie "Gene," (Gen) borrowed a little from Kubrick's "The Shining" in terms of its exploitative storyline, which can be applied well as we see in movies like "Identity" (Kimlik). In the storyline, two homicide detectives and a new resident doctor are stranded in a mental institution and try to find their way out of this mystery. "Gen" resembled a bad episode of the "X-Files," and although when compared to its former two counterparts had a "Citizen Kane" feel to it; with its bad acting and unconvincing story line, fell short of expectations.


The Taylan siblings, leaving their first movie attempt "Okul" (School) and the accompanying teenage spirit behind them, presentedus with "Küçük Kıyamet." (Minor Judge-ment Day) The movie that premiered at the end of 2006 deals with a family that lives in Turkey's south who suffers from multiple earthquakes and decides to move to a desolate town's even more desolate home.



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