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The Deathless Devil / Tarkan Versus the Vikings

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The Deathless Devil (1973)
Tarkan Versus the Vikings (1971)

From the bizarre world of Turkish pop cinema our friends at Mondo Macabro have uncovered, polished up, and released to DVD a couple of real doozies that should leave viewers equally bewildered and delighted.

First, let's start with my favorite film from this demented double feature, the delirious epic that is, Tarkan Versus the Vikings!

Hidden beneath a ridiculous matted mop of a wig, our hero Tarkan, with his two trusty wolves (who are actually just dogs) escorts the fetching Hun princess Yorka to a lightly guarded Hun fort. Shortly after their arrival, Tarkan starts with the crazy talk when he says, with a piercing stare, "Water sleeps, the enemy doesn't," Which begs the question; is something afoot, or is Tarkan's wig merely one size too small? Although the latter might be true, Tarkan's cryptic non sequitur proves prophetic when an army of be-wigged Vikings storm the Hun's fort. Thus begins a battle in which dogs are hurled through the air before latching viciously onto meaty Viking throats or unsuspecting ankles, and, amidst the clashing of weapons, women, children, and even infants meet their fate in a deliriously over-the-top fashion.

Tarkan is wounded during the battle, but is revived by one of his wolves (Kurt) only to discover that his other wolf (Kurt's father) has been brutally killed by those damned Vikings. But which damned Viking? Henceforth Tarkan vows to find the Viking who killed his dog (which will be tough since the Vikings keep reusing the same wigs whenever one of them dies) and avenge his death! Oh, and slightly lower on Tarkan's to-do list, our hero also plans to rescue the kidnapped Hun princess - if it's not too much trouble that is. Of course, over the course of the film trouble comes in many guises, some of those being: deadly snake-pits, a Chinese seductress, a face-eating falcon, a giant rubber octopus, not to mention an orgy wherein sweat and blood flow as abundantly as the tangled tresses of an orange Viking wig.

Tarkan Versus the Vikings is the kind of movie I can attempt to briefly describe, but which you must simply experience for yourself. Although the film does borrow freely from multiple sources (listen for the musical themes from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Once Upon a Time in the West to pop up in weird places - which would be any frame in the film ) everything is haphazardly tossed into a Turkish blender, resulting in a transcendently harebrained, but singular, concoction. Though at times repetitive, the film is quite action-packed and filled with the kind of whacky violence that is most likely to garner a lot of chuckles. The film's many shortcomings, which are also chuckle inducing, are more often charming than annoying and really add to the overall oddball nature of the film. In short, Tarkan Versus the Vikings is just a lot of fun, and should prove quite enjoyable for fans of trashy Turkish pop cinema.

The second feature, The Deathless Devil, while odd in its own right, is not quite as enjoyable as Tarkan Vs. the Vikings. At the beginning of the movie, the film's protagonist Tekin should be stunned to learn that his father was actually a famed, lame mask-wearing crime fighter named Copperhead, who was killed by his arch nemesis, Dr. Satan. However, never one to let a shocking and silly revelation get him down, Tekin appears rather nonplussed by the news, and quickly dons his father's silly mask, along with the name Copperhead, and picks up where his father left off - doing battle with the evil mustachioed one.

The Deathless Devil features some nifty stunt work, a truly annoying and "clueless" sidekick (who thinks that he's Sherlock Holmes and that he's funny), bad dialogue/acting, horrendous art direction, crappy costumes, a ludicrous story (I'm not even sure the word story really applies here) and a big cheesy robot. All of this might equal fun, and there is a good time to be had, yet I felt The Deathless Devil was lacking in comparison to Tarkan Vs. the Vikings, and simply wasn't quite as entertaining. Nevertheless, it makes a decent double feature, and leaves one hoping that Mondo Macabro will continue to dig up some more of these Turkish delights!

All things considered, Mondo Macabro does an admirable job bringing these two ultra-obscure films to DVD. In addition to the two short Pete Tombs essays that accompany each film, and the Mondo previews trailer, the disc includes a really nice documentary entitled "Turkish Pop Cinema" which highlights films and filmmakers from Turkish cinema's abundantly interesting past. Also, the DVD menu is structured to look like a comic book page, with scenes from both films playing in each panel; a great idea that perfectly captures the essence of these two wild films.

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